Leonard Slatkin, who has done such outstanding service for American music, upholds the Copland tradition with potent, sympathetically argued accounts of the big ballets. The performances by the Saint Louis Symphony could hardly be bettered, and the recordings stand out for their solid sound as well. Slatkin does both Billy the Kid
in full, restoring some delightful music in both scores that is missed when only the suites are presented. In Rodeo
, for example, it comes as a delicious surprise to hear the Saloon-piano interlude before the "Saturday Night Waltz"--and Slatkin insists on an out-of-tune upright--just the right touch. These are idiomatic, persuasive accounts, thrilling in their buildups and potent in their climaxes. Even Appalachian Spring
is done in full, though in its version for full orchestra. The treatment here is gentle, and while Slatkin generates less voltage than Bernstein, his reading has nobility and an engaging warmth. The recordings were made at a rather low level, but have a wonderful ambience and extraordinary dynamic range. Unfortunately, the individual scenes of both Billy the Kid
and Appalachian Spring
are not separately banded. --Ted Libbey
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