Probably the American Classic, although Aaron Copland thought it could never become popular. Funny how these things work out. You can see his point: lots of new, unfamiliar sounds, a small chamber group (originally), a ballet by the formidable Martha Graham that relatively few would see. On the other hand, it's so full of highly inspired, songful music, you know instantly why it became so well-beloved. The smartest thing Copland did in his career was to extract a suite for full symphony orchestra. The suite is a much tighter piece than the full-length ballet, and this version became world-famous. As good as the suite is, I prefer the original full-length chamber work. Copland jettisoned a lot of good music to make the suite. Also, in a curious way, the smaller group provides all the color of the orchestra. I listen to both versions.
Copyright © 1995 by Steve Schwartz.
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