Shallow Copland Third from Wilson and the BBC Phil

Review by: David Hurwitz

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Artistic Quality: 7

Sound Quality: 9

This release is billed as Orchestral Works 4, and Symphonies Vol. 3, which strikes me as a bit of overkill, especially given the fact that Copland’s output was not that large. Never mind. The performance of the Third Symphony is swift and light, with the slow movement coming off best because it requires the least amount of rhetorical emphasis. It’s not a bad performance, but with the likes of Bernstein and Slatkin already available in two recordings each, never mind the composer’s own versions (Everest better than Sony), you can’t help but feel that this outing is superfluous.

The BBC Philharmonic remains one of the least interesting ensembles around: always professional, but always bland. Just listen to that phlegmatic central climax in the finale, before the coda. It should shock with its dissonance and acerbity–all the more given the springy pleasantness of the music that precedes it. Not here. Wilson’s choice of Copland’s less effective original ending, which Slatkin recorded for Naxos and which I never hoped to hear again, doesn’t help.

As for the remainder of the program, well, Letter from Home and Down a Country Lane are cute but ephemeral. Connotations, on the other hand, is a major work and, like the symphony, it’s well played but needs more gruffness and angularity. You get the sense listening to these performances that the artists are sincere about what they are doing, but they simply haven’t rehearsed the program long enough to convey a full sense of commitment to the cause. Good sound, but this disc is nothing to get excited about.



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Recording Details:

Reference Recording: Symphony: Bernstein (Sony); Slatkin (RCA)

  • COPLAND, AARON:
    Symphony No. 3; Connotations; Letter from Home; Down a Country Lane

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