Aaron Copland s little-known opera The Tender Land takes place on a farm in the American South during the Depression. The composer later wrote, I was trying to give young American singers material that they do not often get in the opera house... The result was closer to musical comedy than grand opera. The suite that Copland extracted from The Tender Land is in three movements, with the second and third linked without pause. The 1926 Piano Concerto, like Gershwin's Concerto of the previous year, is a 1920s New York piece brassy, exuberant, ever confident in its bluesy swagger. Copland composed two sets of Old American Songs, originally for voice and piano but heard here transcribed for chorus and orchestra.
Benjamin Pasternack... plays with command and force. The close balance emphasises the shallow piano but provides a keen, edgy brilliance, suiting Copland s preference for a sound that is lean, percussive and rather harmonically severe . --Gramophone