Copland the Populist

( 1 )

Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Andrew Farach-Colton
Following up on their Grammy-winning Stravinsky album, Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francsico Symphony look homeward with a recording devoted to three of Aaron Copland's most popular works: "Billy the Kid," "Appalachian Spring," and "Rodeo." It shouldn't surprise anyone that Tilson Thomas, a dynamic advocate of 20th-century music and a brilliant conductor of dance music, crafts superb interpretations of these quintessentially American ballets. But unlike most maestros -- such as Leonard Slatkin, whose high-voltage performances of these scores are now available on a budget-priced two-CD set -- Tilson Thomas's approach to these much-played scores is ...
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Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Andrew Farach-Colton
Following up on their Grammy-winning Stravinsky album, Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francsico Symphony look homeward with a recording devoted to three of Aaron Copland's most popular works: "Billy the Kid," "Appalachian Spring," and "Rodeo." It shouldn't surprise anyone that Tilson Thomas, a dynamic advocate of 20th-century music and a brilliant conductor of dance music, crafts superb interpretations of these quintessentially American ballets. But unlike most maestros -- such as Leonard Slatkin, whose high-voltage performances of these scores are now available on a budget-priced two-CD set -- Tilson Thomas's approach to these much-played scores is exceptionally refined. The recording is titled "Copland the Populist," but it could just as accurately have been called "Copland the Colorist." Tilson Thomas's meticulous attention to detail demonstrates that the composer was not just a vivid orchestral painter, but a remarkably subtle one as well. The opening of "Appalachian Spring" sounds so dewy-fresh that every note seems to glisten. "Billy the Kid" is grandly dramatic, as befits this tale of the Wild West, but it's the quiet moments -- the images of vast prairies, big skies, and lonely souls -- that are most memorable. Even the "Hoedown" from "Rodeo," a pops concert staple, has a glittering vibrancy worthy of Debussy despite the hearty "yee-hahs" of the San Francisco musicians. The orchestra plays with flair and finesse throughout, and RCA's recording is as expansive as Copland's musical landscapes.
Barnes & Noble - Jim Svejda
The most impressive recording yet released in this Copland centennial year of 2000, Copland the Populist appropriately features three of the composer's most popular works -- "Appalachian Spring," "Billy the Kid," and "Rodeo" -- in breathtaking performances by the San Francisco Symphony conducted by Michael Tilson Thomas. Although the versions of both cowboy ballets have a fair claim to being the most exciting and idiomatic since Leonard Bernstein's, the "Appalachian Spring" is even more special. Instead of the familiar suite, Tilson Thomas performs the rarely heard complete ballet, including the spellbinding music -- arguably the finest in the show -- that accompanies the scene with the Revivalist. In short, the composer could hardly hope to receive a more thrilling birthday present.
All Music Guide
First of all, these are the familiar suites from Billy The Kid and Rodeo, not the complete ballet scores. This CD does feature, however, the full Applachian Spring score, in its later orchestral version. Those issues aside now, one can confidently declare that Tilson Thomas continues to turn out recording after recording that demonstrate his absolute mastery on the podium. Without doubt, he is among the top two or three American conductors before the public today.

Here, he gives us a Billy The Kid that may be the best version yet. It surpasses, if only marginally, Copland's own with the London Symphony Orchestra from the late 1960s. Tilson Thomas captures that cowboy-western idiom to perfection with elastic rhythms, a near-flawless balancing of instrumental timbres, and a seemingly intuitive sense for finding the essence and spirit of the score.

Nothing ever sounds excessive or pedestrian here. The Gun Battle sequence comes across with as much power and drama as I've ever heard, far surpassing Tilson Thomas' other great American rival, Leonard Slatkin, not only in this section but in most of the piece. It should be noted that Slatkin recorded the complete ballet, but when comparisons are made in those sections which are basically the same in the Suite, Tilson Thomas is clearly preferable. His Celebration after Billy's Capture comes across with verve and color in this quite zany dance episode, and the opening and closing sequences are riveting, as well. A splendid Billy then, maybe definitive!

Applachian Spring is also excellent here, though it would be hard to declare it the best. Again, Tilson Thomas is pretty much on target, but the slower episodes, while atmospheric, may be a tad ponderous. Still, this is an impressive achievement. Rodeo is another effort that must be ranked at or near the top of the heap. Again, I favor this version over Copland's and a plethora of others I've heard. Buckaroo Holiday and Hoe Down are especially noteworthy in this performance. You can quite vividly picture the images the music depicts, and the crowd cheering added near the close of the middle section of the latter number add to the jovial atmosphere.

The San Francisco players are in splendid form throughout and BMG's sound is vivid and full. Tilson Thomas' Mahler Seventh and Prokofiev Romeo and Juliet excerpts were first-rate achievements. This one must be counted with those. ~ Robert Cummings, All Music Guide

Gramophone - Andrew Achenbach
They’ve already dazzled us with ‘Copland the Modernist’...now Michael Tilson Thomas and his stunning San Francisco band champion ‘Copland the Populist’ and those three great ballet scores of 1938-44.... Boasting some handsomely opulent, exhilaratingly expansive sonics, this is one corker of a release.'

First of all, these are the familiar suites from Billy The Kid and Rodeo, not the complete ballet scores. This CD does feature, however, the full Applachian Spring score, in its later orchestral version. Those issues aside now, one can confidently declare that Tilson Thomas continues to turn out recording after recording that demonstrate his absolute mastery on the podium. Without doubt, he is among the top two or three American conductors before the public today.

Here, he gives us a Billy The Kid that may be the best version yet. It surpasses, if only marginally, Copland's own with the London Symphony Orchestra from the late 1960s. Tilson Thomas captures that cowboy-western idiom to perfection with elastic rhythms, a near-flawless balancing of instrumental timbres, and a seemingly intuitive sense for finding the essence and spirit of the score.

Nothing ever sounds excessive or pedestrian here. The Gun Battle sequence comes across with as much power and drama as I've ever heard, far surpassing Tilson Thomas' other great American rival, Leonard Slatkin, not only in this section but in most of the piece. It should be noted that Slatkin recorded the complete ballet, but when comparisons are made in those sections which are basically the same in the Suite, Tilson Thomas is clearly preferable. His Celebration after Billy's Capture comes across with verve and color in this quite zany dance episode, and the opening and closing sequences are riveting, as well. A splendid Billy then, maybe definitive!

Applachian Spring is also excellent here, though it would be hard to declare it the best. Again, Tilson Thomas is pretty much on target, but the slower episodes, while atmospheric, may be a tad ponderous. Still, this is an impressive achievement. Rodeo is another effort that must be ranked at or near the top of the heap. Again, I favor this version over Copland's and a plethora of others I've heard. Buckaroo Holiday and Hoe Down are especially noteworthy in this performance. You can quite vividly picture the images the music depicts, and the crowd cheering added near the close of the middle section of the latter number add to the jovial atmosphere.

The San Francisco players are in splendid form throughout and BMG's sound is vivid and full. Tilson Thomas' Mahler Seventh and Prokofiev Romeo and Juliet excerpts were first-rate achievements. This one must be counted with those. ~ Robert Cummings, All Music Guide

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Product Details

  • Release Date: 5/16/2000
  • Label: Rca
  • UPC: 090266351121
  • Catalog Number: 63511
  • Sales rank: 23,836

Tracks

Disc 1
  1. 1 Billy the Kid, ballet - Aaron Copland & Michael Tilson Thomas (21:17)
    Composed byAaron Copland
    Conducted byMichael Tilson Thomas
    Performed byMichael Tilson Thomas, San Francisco Symphony
  2. 2 Appalachian Spring, complete ballet (original version for 13 instruments) - Aaron Copland & Michael Tilson Thomas (35:56)
    Composed byAaron Copland
    Conducted byMichael Tilson Thomas
    Performed byMichael Tilson Thomas, San Francisco Symphony
  3. 3 Rodeo, selections from the ballet - Aaron Copland & Michael Tilson Thomas (19:15)
    Composed byAaron Copland
    Conducted byMichael Tilson Thomas
    Performed byMichael Tilson Thomas, San Francisco Symphony
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Album Credits

Performance Credits
Michael Tilson Thomas Primary Artist
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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Beautiful Music

    I almost didn't purchase this title, because it didn't have ''Fanfare for the Common Man''. ''Fanfare'' was what drew me to Copland, it's soaring phrasing moving me everytime I heard it on the radio. But, after listening to the openings of ''Appalachian Spring'' and ''Rodeo'', I felt assured that this CD contains more of the beautiful style and resonance heard in his ''Fanfare''. Copland's music is bold and refreshing, and Michael Tilson Thomas definitely knows how to tap the raw emotion out of it. The San Francisco Orchestra delivers top notch versions of these treasured classics. Even though I have to look for the ''Fanfare'' somewhere else, I am glad I purchased this title to start my Copland collection, and you will be, too.

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews