John Wilson / BBC Philharmonic Orchestra

Copland: Orchestral Works, Vol. 4 - Symphonies

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This is the fourth in the BBC Philharmonic's series of Copland's orchestral music under conductor John Wilson, and it retains the strengths of the earlier releases. One of those strengths is the exposure of Copland works that have fallen into obscurity, generally for no good reason, and that virtue is on special display here. The two short pieces at the end of the program, Letter from Home and Down a Country Lane, the latter arranged for school orchestras, are rarely played, and both are marvelous examples of Copland's melodic gift. The Connotations of 1962, one of Copland's few ventures into the 12-tone system, has also been avoided by programmers who have a host of tonal, broadly popular Copland scores from which to choose. Wilson gets the key challenge with this work, which is to find the characteristic Copland beneath the modernist overtones. The Symphony No. 3 from the mid-1940s, performed in its original version, is not exactly rare, but the reworked Fanfare for the Common Man in the finale is less common than the freestanding work itself. The symphony suggests an American Shostakovich, minus the folk elements (which Copland studiously avoided) and the sardonic edge. The BBC Philharmonic may not have the silken quality of the Koussevitsky-era Boston Symphony for which the work was composed, but it comes close; sample the clean string work in the slow movement. Another fine Copland release from across the pond.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1 18:47
Third Symphony (Original version)
2 9:26
3 7:44
4 9:06
5 13:02
6 5:43
7 2:16
blue highlight denotes track pick