Leonard Bernstein

Copland: Music for the Theater; Concerto for Piano & Orchestra

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This disc of Sony Classical's "Bernstein Century" series delivers important collaborations between Bernstein and Aaron Copland. The affinity of these two distinctly American artists, whose lives and careers were inextricably linked from their first meeting in the 1930s until their respective deaths two months apart at the end of 1990, is highly apparent here.

Although the disc features lesser-known music from the composer's early period, each track is unmistakably Copland, showing the musical vocabulary from his twenties as remarkably individual, sometimes full of mischief and at other times deeply contemplative. Bernstein is in his element with the New York Philharmonic, particularly in Copland's vigorously syncopated passages. The Concerto for Piano is an added bonus, a rare chance to hear Copland at the keyboard in collaboration with Bernstein on the podium. Including both the modern ("Connotations for Orchestra") and the better known ("El Salon Mexico"), this release shows a vital connection between two voices closely linked in tradition, idiom, and conviction.

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