The recording of Copland's The Tender Land is alone worth getting this disc. The rest of the vocal works are just a bonus, a very good bonus! Copland directs a definitive account of his opera, and in this compressed version leaves out all the spoken parts of the full length opera, no doubt depriving us of a lot of good music but on the other hand giving listeners a very concise version that is even stronger musically (although dramatically a little lacking in logic because of the missing parts - for example without knowing of the confrontation during the party scene you would find the boys' departure the next morning puzzling, and the CD notes does not elaborate on the plot, which is about the only negative thing you can say about this set). Listening to the opera in this abridged version gives you the feeling of one hit after another, there is not a single weak point in the score and Copland has a gift for word-setting that can turn clumsy texts such as "girls come and go, some are good, some are not so good" into goosebumps stuff (a lovely dedication to Laurie sung by Grandpa). Other high points include the stunning transformation of the traditional Walls of Zion into the quartet piece The Promise Of Living and a rollicking Party Scene, which contains the best in Copland's clever orchestration and rythmic vitality - it seems all of the composers best traits have all come together in this work. Martin's Act 2 Song 'Laurie...You Know, Laurie' is a rare gem or an aria and beautifully sung. Other hidden gems include the comical 'We've Been North'. The cast is impeccable and the entire performance is flawless. Add to that one of those scores that simply win you over from start to finish, and you can't but fall in love with this music. I once thought that nothing could better Appalachian Spring but that was before I discovered this neglected work.