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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars noble music for the common man
As I write the English composer Matthew Arnold has been dead only a few weeks. He has been described as writing chamber music for orchestra. The same can be said of Aaron Copland. There is a simplicity and incisiveness to his orchestration, and the impression that he was happiest with smaller forces. He sounds most at home in works like the original score of Appalachian...
Published on 11 Oct 2006 by Bernard Davis

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1 of 27 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Symphony No 3
I originally heard this on Classic FM and wanted it for the third movement alone.
Published on 26 May 2009 by Joseph E. Dickinson


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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars noble music for the common man, 11 Oct 2006
This review is from: Copland: Symphony No. 3 / Billy the Kid Suite (Audio CD)
As I write the English composer Matthew Arnold has been dead only a few weeks. He has been described as writing chamber music for orchestra. The same can be said of Aaron Copland. There is a simplicity and incisiveness to his orchestration, and the impression that he was happiest with smaller forces. He sounds most at home in works like the original score of Appalachian Spring for 13 instruments and the 10 minute long Quiet City for clarinet, trumpet, saxophone and piano. Certainly there is a rare beauty to his slow passages where just a few instruments interweave.

Both works here find Copland in similar musical territory to that of his best known work Appalachian Spring. Passages of slow slanting strings are interrupted by explosions of orchestral birdsong, which are quickly hushed to make way for that exquisite interweaving of a few wind instruments which are soon joined by the characteristic strings.

For music composed 60 years ago this sounds surprisingly contemporary. The simplicity of the slow string passages is not so far from that of the `holy minimalism' of Arvo Part, and when the music speeds up it is easy to see how much the likes of John Adams, and other `post minimalists' have taken from its pulsing energy. He also managed to achieve, and made sound natural and effortless, a style that is popular and folk inspired without the folk music of any particular country being recalled. This is music ideal to expressing the coming together of the people of many nations which is the essence of the USA.

Symphony No 3 centres around his 3 minute `Fanfare for the Common Man', which only appears at the start of last movement, much as the hymn tune `simple gifts', now better known as `Lord of the dance' only appears about two thirds of the way through Appalachian Spring. But in both cases everything has been leading up to the moment that the main theme is revealed. In fact the last movement of the symphony is developed along the lines of a conventional first movement. This also appears to be characteristic of Copland. His music is often about building up to the main theme as much as it is about stating and developing it. Here he does both, with three movements of preparation followed by one of development.

The music of the Billy the Kid Suite, from the Ballet of the same name, is not so different. There may be snatches of classic `western music', but they are not taken up for long before they are transmuted into elements of Copland's overall style.

These are enjoyable performances with good sound. It is obvious that we are not listening to one of the world's major orchestras, what they lack in richness of tone, and overall sheen, they make up for with a lovely sense of detail, essential to playing Copland's music.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Wide Open Spaces From a Small Room, 19 Jun 2013
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Mr. A. R. Boyes "Alan Boyes" (Newcastle, England) - See all my reviews
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A star is taken off for the rather muddy, dry and quite constricted sound. It isn't so bad but it is the last thing you want when faced with the open textures of Copland in Billy the Kid and the Third Symphony. The piano is almost inaudible in the Scherzo of the symphony and other percussion instruments sound muffled.

Apart from that the performances are excellent. Billy the Kid comes off very well. The symphony is very good too though I do find the a little rushed. The New Zealand Symphony Orchestra once again turn in high quality performances for Naxos: they're not to be underestimated.

These performances are more than a match for most but the sound engineers haven't got it quite right. One other point is that this coupling is inspired: having Billy the Kid as the opening track helps to point the thematic similarities between the two works with the Symphony opening as if it is a continuation and extension of the ballet. It's very effective and sound reservations aside this is an excellent recording and thoroughly recommended.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A bargain, 7 Dec 2011
This review is from: Copland: Symphony No. 3 / Billy the Kid Suite (Audio CD)
This is a very good performance of Copland 3 at bargain price . The New Zealand symphony may not be the NYPO but they play their hearts out in a very good performance at budget price . If you can afford I would say try and get one of the rather expensive deleted NYPO/Bernstein records floating about but this is a performance that should not disappoint .

Billy the Kid is good fun too.
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1 of 27 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Symphony No 3, 26 May 2009
By 
Joseph E. Dickinson (Sothport, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Copland: Symphony No. 3 / Billy the Kid Suite (Audio CD)
I originally heard this on Classic FM and wanted it for the third movement alone.
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Copland: Symphony No. 3 / Billy the Kid Suite
Copland: Symphony No. 3 / Billy the Kid Suite by Aaron Copland (Audio CD - 2002)
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