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Copland: Dance Symphony

4.7 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Audio CD (29 Sept. 2008)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Naxos
  • Other Editions: MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 133,295 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. Symphony No. 1
  2. Short Symphony (No. 2)
  3. Dance Symphony

Product Description

CD Description

This second Naxos disc of Copland Symphonies opens with Symphony No. 1, an arrangement of the 1924 Symphony for Organ and Orchestra. Copland was especially fond of his Short Symphony (Symphony No. 2) on account of its complex, irregular rhythms and clear textures. The so-called Dance Symphony, described by the composer as 'a large symphonic work' (hence the Symphony title), is derived from his early vampire ballet Grohg, inspired by the 1921 German expressionist film Nosferatu. Copland wrote: 'If the first movement is thin, dainty and pointed, the second movement is songful and sustained. The third movement is characterized by violence and syncopation.'


''[Marin Alsop's] typecasting as an interpreter of the American symphonists is warranted.'' --Philadelphia Inquirer

Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
The notes to this Naxos release mention that Copland wrote symphonic style works in two batches - early and late. I knew these three works, then the later Symphony no 3 but I'd love to know the names of any other works from his later period.

This recording showcases the early symphonies very well. The First symphony, as SJ Bonsor points out, removes the organ with wind instruments but failed to make the repertoire in the way that the original did to some extent. Whilst not very original stylistically, it is an impressive debut - very French with some post Sacre Stravinsky and early Prokofiev bombast thrown in. In three movements it is superbly scored and makes a convincing structure.

The Dance Symphony, whilst based on his Vampire ballet, sounds even more French with a hint of eastern exoticism. The opening movement is rhythmically nervous and exciting combined with more melancholic and lyrical material. The dream like central movement reaches a dramatic climax before the mockery, jazzy dancing and cross rhythms of the finale. Ballet based it maybe but it still works as a symphony. It is certainly as convincing as any of Prokofiev's adaptations of ballet and opera material in his Third and Fourth Symphonies.

The Short Symphony certainly more clearly anticipates the open textures and harmonies of the mature Copland but with great rhythmic complexity. The influence of neo classical Stravinsky is greatest here but this music dances in a way that Stravinsky's neo classical symphonies and concertos do not. It's for that reason that I've removed one star because The Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra pick their way through the complex rhythms rather too carefully to give it the bounce and life that it requires.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
This latest release from Naxos brings together Copland's other purely orchestral `symphonies': Whilst it is the Third symphony which is probably the best known of his symphonic output, and which undoubtedly fulfils the concept of the symphony most powerfully and cogently, these three other works are engaging and distinctive in their own right.

The Symphony No.1 is an arrangement of Copland's symphony for Organ and Orchestra from 1924. As the booklet notes point out, the arrangement was primarily made so that the work could attract a greater number of performances through employing a conventional sized orchestra, yet the irony is that the original version has generally received more outings than the arrangement (comparison between the two shows how Copland has revoiced the organ part to integrate it into the orchestral palette, yet the works can be enjoyed as separate entities, each a different `take' on the same material).

The symphony as recorded on this disc is muscular and compelling, with a typical no-nonsense clear-water orchestration, and a Stravinskian construction.

The Symphony No.2- otherwise known as the `Short symphony- is, at 15 minutes long, about the same length as Prokofiev's classical symphony. It employs an even more concentrated neo-classical Stravinskian sound world, and there are distinct echoes of the `wide-open prairie' sound of Copland's ballets.

With its complicated rhythms, this is not a work for anything less than a virtuoso orchestra and the Bournemouth Symphony do not disappoint. Alsop gives the piece a continuous onward momentum, as vital here as with Stravinsky's Dumbarton Oaks. Without such intensity, the piece would soon unravel. Instead it unfolds with a satisfying lyrical logic.
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Alsop provides some excellent interpretations here, the BSO play superbly, and it's all beautifully recorded, too! What more could you want?
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0x8d55df18) out of 5 stars 5 reviews
8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8d80db58) out of 5 stars look elsewhere (please) 18 Feb. 2010
By musique non-stop - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Slack, unidiomatic performances -- if you love Copland's music, as I do, it is painful to hear performances like these and to see them praised and bought instead of worthy ones. Slatkin Aaron Copland: Organ Symphony/Dance Symphony/Short Symphony/Orchestral Variations does all three plus the Orchestral Variations; Batiz does the Dance Symphony on a bargain collection of fine performances Copland: Appalachian Spring; Billy the Kid; Rodeo; Organ Symphony (No.1 is a later arrangement of this for practical reasons): Litton A Copland Profile, Bernstein Copland: Symphony No. 3 - Symphony for Organ & Orchestra or The Copland Collection: Early Orchestral Works, 1922-1935 (the Copland-conducted performances of the other two pieces aren't first choice but easily above Alsop's); Symphony No.2 ('Short'): Tilson-Thomas Aaron Copland: The Essence of America [Box Set] or Copland the Modernist. Many of these are as much or more of a 'bargain' than the Naxos offering here. Even if you disagree with my assessment of this recording, these alternatives are worth considering.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8d659258) out of 5 stars An extraordinary symphony not well known 27 Jan. 2009
By JAVIER Ruiz De Presa - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
The Dance Symphony by Aaaron Copland exhibits a mature composer, a master of alternate compasses or rythms (specially the third movement). The orchestra has a monumental balance and the melodies are Copland himself at his best. It's possible to see here the ground material (technics, use of woodwinds, metals, constrasts and texture) that is later to be found in -this a very precise example- Fancy Free by Leonard Bernstein. In certain way, both composers evolve through paralell paths... This is a specially good recording.

Javier Ruiz de la Presa, México
1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8d65a348) out of 5 stars Fine rendition of Copland"s lesser known symphonies. 17 Nov. 2009
By Hayward H. Siegel - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Symphony No. 1 is an arrangement of Copland's earlier and more popular Symphony for Organ and Orchestra. In fact, if you are familiar with that earlier work, as I am, you will say to yourself, upon hearing Symphony No. 1 for the first time, "Where's the organ?". Copland substituted woodwind and brass instruments, for the organ, in this later work. The Symphony is in 3 movements, slow-fast-slow. The melodies are easy to listen to, especially in the lively 2nd movement. This Symphony is well orchestrated, with less percussion, than is found in Copland's more popular pieces of music. After listening to this Symphony a few times, you will forget about the organ, and realize that this Symphony stands on its own. The Second or Short Symphony is also in 3 movements, fast-slow-fast. It is also well orchestrated, and there is much interplay of themes throughout the Symphony. The Dance Symphony is an arrangement of an earlier ballet by Copland, based on the subject of vampires. It too is well orchestrated, and is also in 3 movements. There is more use of percussion instruments in this Symphony, than in the other 2, and it sounds similar to other ballets of Copland. I highly recommend this recording to those who like Copland's music. It is hard to find recordings of these earlier and less known symphonies by him, so get it while you can.
1 of 4 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8db58c90) out of 5 stars So that's why it's Symph #3... 10 May 2009
By Stu Brown - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Yes - as alluded to by another reviewer, I always wondered, since I first heard #3 over 50 years ago, if there was a 1 and 2. Now I know, and I have heard them for the first time. Maybe I haven't been paying attention since 90% of my music listening has been chamber music from all eras. I was pleasantly suprised to stumble across this CD, and glad I did. There are pieces and parts of other Copland music, so these were precedents, and quite interesting to see how they fit into the composers history.

Maybe it's me, but I never heard of the conductor or the orchestra. But I have to say that the music presented very well - probably as good as a well known conductor and orchestra. By the way the recording was excellant audio-wise. It really exersized my dolby surround sound receiver even though not an SACD recording.

I highly recommend if you are a Copland fan - and even if you're not.
0 of 3 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8d43e474) out of 5 stars more Copland 6 Jan. 2009
By Steven L. Chenault - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I have listened to Copland's Third Symphony for years. This album answered the question of what came before. A worthwhile investment of time and money.
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