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Copland:Billy the Kid and Rode

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.3 out of 5 stars 4 reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Bernstein still reigns supreme, but... 8 Mar. 2008
By Jeffrey Harris - Published on
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
There is no comparison between this album and Bernstein's recordings of the same music. Bernstein is more rhythmically pointed and "punchier". When those cowboys dance, Bernstein makes it exuberant! Bernstein is also much more evocative in "Billy the Kid". Copland once said that Bernstein was the best conductor of his music, and this recording does not alter that fact.

Having said that, there is some music here that Bernstein did not see fit to include in the suites he recorded, and I enjoy hearing that music. Additionally, it's nice to hear these smoother, more self-conciously pretty performances every once in a while. You will hear some orchestral details here that are easy to miss in Bernstein's more lively renditions. I marvel at how beautifully this orchestra plays, and at how good it sounds on record!

This is available very inexpensively used, and it makes a nice second version of these pieces, assuming that the unsurpassed Berstein recordings are already on your shelf.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Cuba, Mexico, And The Old West...In Baltimore 7 Dec. 2012
By Erik North - Published on
Format: Audio CD
The "American Sound" of classical music in the 20th century was defined by many great composers: Charles Ives; William Schuman; Samuel Barber; George Gershwin, and many more. And at the head of them all is the so-called "dean" of American composers, namely Aaron Copland. He managed this by utilizing folk or folkloric material into a style uniquely rooted in the American soil, whether it be in the quiet spaces of the Appalachians in Pennsylvania (his 1943 ballet "Appalachian Spring"), small-town USA (as was the case for his score for the 1940 film version of Thornton Wilder's play "Our Town"), or for John Steinbeck (his score for the 1938 film "The Red Pony"). Copland, in short, helped to define what American classical music would mean for the world. This is especially the case on this 1993 recording of four of Copland's most intriguing pieces by David Zinman and the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra.

The two big pieces here are the absolute complete scores Copland wrote for two ballets set in the wide-open spaces of the West, "Billy The Kid" and "Rodeo". Both works had been known already in their forms as orchestral suites, especially in Leonard Bernstein's justly famous 1961 recordings with his New York Philharmonic; but it wasn't until Leonard Slatkin and the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra recorded them for EMI in 1985 that people heard the ballet scores in their unabridged form. Zinman and his orchestra take Slatkin's approach and give renditions of those scores that rank right up there with the Slatkin/St. Louis versions. And in every note, the look, the feel, and the textures of the Old West comes through, both in audio terms and in the mind of the listener.

But the two works sandwiched between those two scores aren't exactly small potatoes either. "El Salon Mexico", which Copland composed over a four-year span from 1932 to 1936 and had it premiered in Mexico City in 1937 with Carlos Chavez conducting, is a vigorous symphonic tone poem utilizing Mexican folk music melodies and some mariachi influences in the orchestration; those influences would re-emerge in his later "Latin American Sketches." And "Danzon Cubano", like Gershwin's "Cuban Overture", utilizes elements of Cuban music for an energetic homage to Cuba, not as has been perceived by the media for all the wrong reasons over the last fifty-plus years, but as a nation whose culture we have learned and borrowed a lot from, and actually enjoyed.

There's a lot to be said for Zinman's stewardship of the Baltimore Symphony, which truly became an American powerhouse under his tenure in the 80s and 90s, and which continues under Marin Alsop's direction today. This recording of four Copland masterpieces is proof positive of Zinman as a conductor of consummate skill, the orchestra as a great presence in the American classical music field, and of Baltimore itself as a city full of pride for this great cultural institution.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Zinman's Copland 1 Dec. 2010
By Midge - Published on
Format: Audio CD
I have to agree with Jeff. The Bernstein is the best recording ever and it will never be surpassed. The Zinman is a good runner-up, however, especially with Baltimore's solid brass playing and the Argo label's spectacularly recorded bass drum! An extra added bonus is the inclusion of music you normally don't hear in recordings of Rodeo and Billy the Kid.
5.0 out of 5 stars Zinman elicits beautiful and spirited playing from the Baltimore 18 Jan. 2016
By Riesgo DelFiasco - Published on
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Zinman elicits beautiful and spirited playing from the Baltimore. Sound is superb. My favorite recording of these works, by far.
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