This disc, recorded in 1957 (Copland) and 1960 (Grofe) and here released as hybrid SACD derived from three-track recordings, offer a further remarkable example of the recording quality achieved by the engineers at that time. This, heard through good modern surround playback equipment, makes it hard to believe that such sound was possible given the recordings’ vintages.
The conductor, Morton Gould, clearly had a complete affinity with the intentions of all of these pieces and his empathy with the music is particularly apparent on this disc. At the time of recording great care was taken to produce as authentic a recording as possible bearing in mind the intentions of the composers as seen through the prism of Gould, a fellow composer of some repute. Consequently various adjustments were made to the layout of the Grofe Grand Canyon Suite to optimise the effects but without distorting the musical content.
Equally, and following the cause of creating an authentic atmosphere. a honky-tonk piano was used in the Rodeo ‘Honky-Tonk’ interlude. More importantly perhaps, the two Copland suites are full of swagger laced with wistful longing as appropriate, along with vivid portrayals for the two scenarios as they develop. This amounts to a vividly characterful delivery of both the Copland and Grofe suites which make a rewarding joint programme.
This disc offers authentic-sounding performances of iconic Western music played with vivid style and recordings to match.
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