Royal Philharmonic Orchestra

Copland: Fanfare for the Common Man; Billy the Kid; El Salón México; Hoe-Down from 'Rodeo'; Appalachian Spring

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This Royal Philharmonic Masterworks album does a nice job of programming an assortment of Aaron Copland's splendid orchestral works without falling into the all-too-frequent pitfall of assailing listeners with a barrage of short excerpts. In fact, with the exception of the "Hoe-Down" from Rodeo, the works heard here are complete. The album opens with the instantly identifiable Fanfare for the Common Man before continuing on to some of the most brilliant uses of American folk idioms in his music. The claims that the album cover makes regarding the performance quality are, however, overstated. Nothing here is "performed with a rarely heard abandon," nor are the individual performances certain to "excite and thrill over and over." Instead, what listeners get is a safe, solid, yet unimaginative reading of these great works. There are no glaring technical issues to be found, but there's also little excitement. The Fanfare lacks in grandeur, Appalachian Spring is not as serene and still as it could be, and El Salón México is not adequately drunken. It would also have been more helpful if the various sections of Billy the Kid and Appalachian Spring had been parceled out into individual tracks. Still, newcomers to Copland will still find this album a reasonable introduction to his works and a springboard to additional listening.

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