The title reflects the fifteen-minute length of this one-movement work. It is a tightly integreated composition of 1932-1933, the years when Copland was nearing the end of his first mature creative period. The orchestration of the work is also small-scale; doing without a full-sized brass section, Copland here is less brash-sounding than in other works of this time. The music has a high degree of rhythmic flexibility. In fact, the rhythms in it are so complex that it was rejected by the Boston Symphony Orchestra as being too difficult. (It was premiered by Carlos Chavez in Mexico City.) This is not the broad and expansive Copland of Billy the Kid or Appallachian Spring. Although the music is smooth-sounding and not difficult to listen to, it is also rather cerebral, much given to motive development and rhythmic innovations. Because it was not receiving orchestral performances, Copland recast the Short Symphony in 1937 as a Sextet, in which form it is also highly successful.
Description by Joseph Stevenson
- Presto e ritmico
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