Copland wrote music for several movies, jumping from entertainment to documentaries and back. This CD contains music from both, some pieces recorded for the first time.
From Sorcery to Science is a light, almost frivilous, piece that does to various forms of "medicine" what Saint-Saens did to zoo animals. A witch's cauldron being stirred by dancing strings, the percussion-heavy medicine man, and so on so forth. The music is short, but so was the documentary.
The City is perhaps the most well-known of this collection of movie music, thanks especially to the Music for Movies compilation. I saw this movie in a course I took on Planning Theory; one of my classmates described it as "Fantasia for Planners." The movie was music-heavy with little narration, and, as is typical of these suites based on movie music, contained additional material to the base pieces presented here; but not much is missed in terms of new material. The documentary was long, drawn out, and repetitive, but nevertheless had its elements of humor. The movie promoted New Urbanist type communities opposed to conventional suburbs and inner-city density, this being a somewhat revolutary idea for its time.
The Cummington Suite: if any of this music sounds familar, don't be surprised. Copland borrowed themes from Down A Country Lane and Sunday Afternoon Music (or was it vice versa?), both solo piano works. It does have a smattering of new material, though. Simple, populous style Copland.
The North Star is a war-like piece, with increasing tensity as the piece prograsses. Reminds me a bit of Prokofiev's Alexander Nevsky, but not nerely to the level of depth and drama. Interestingly, Ira Gerswin wrote the lyrics to the Song of the Guerillas.
Also be sure the look into the Red Pony and Something Wild, two of Copland's other movie scores. And we're still waiting for more music from Of Mice and Men; there are two pieces from this movie in Music for Movies, just enough to make you want more.