Slatkin’s Always Excellent Copland Ballets

Review by: David Hurwitz

CoplandBilly

Artistic Quality: 10

Sound Quality: 10

Leonard Slatkin’s Copland is always first rate, and this release is no exception. He already recorded the complete Billy the Kid in St. Louis for EMI, but that disc could be anywhere right now, except readily available, and so if you want the entire work this performance is just the ticket. I actually prefer the full-length ballet to the suite. You get about ten minutes more music, all of it worth hearing, and the result is a work that has a more compelling range of narrative and less of that picture postcard Americana feel that just might be starting to sound a tad old. It only remains to be said that throughout the disc the Detroit Symphony plays terrifically.

Grohg is early Copland, but much of it got reused in the Dance Symphony. Inspired by the silent film Nosferatu, the music is aptly dark and spooky, with a decadent sheen similar to what we find in, say, Bartók’s The Miraculous Mandarin. That said, you can plainly hear the composer to come in such numbers as the Dance of the Street-Walker, with its angular sonorities and burlesque atmosphere. As with Billy, Slatkin proves a completely convincing guide to a remarkably assured piece of writing. The coupling of these two works also makes for a more interesting release than usual, and justifies purchase even if you already own a Billy the Kid or three. First rate sonics too.



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Recording Details:

Reference Recording: This coupling: This One


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