Much as his music was (and is) beloved in this country, Aaron Copland's conducting was panned to varying degrees throughout his career, and he never was especially noted for it. Besides the pick-up Columbia Symphony Orchestra, the composer worked mostly in London to record his own music, and was well liked there. The present Everest recording, brought to us by the good folks at the Countdown Media Group, is arguably the greatest that Copland ever made, full of intensity, excitement, and real purpose.
That's not to say the composer was a total failure on the podium, but aside from a breathtaking Appalachian Spring on RCA and a few decent – even classic – Columbia readings, most of his renditions were already being bettered by his colleagues and contemporaries. But this London 3rd is something entirely different. The playing isn't perfect, but that almost adds to the attraction; there's a brashness and spontaneity that neither the composer as conductor nor the London Symphony were especially known for. The recorded sound also surpasses what Copland regularly received from Columbia Records, allowing the slightly acidic winds and thundering percussion to make a positive impact. I listened on a regular CD, but I've no doubt that it sounds great on iTunes as well, where it will hopefully be available forever.
Frankly, everyone involved had a right to be proud. The composer manages to successfully convey his unique sound to his London forces, and they responded with maximum effort. It's a performance that every Copland fan needs to hear, especially fans that don't usually warm to the composer's own efforts with a baton. You can purchase this from Amazon's on-demand service or Apple's iTunes. Whichever way you choose, make this a priority.
Copyright © 2013, Brian Wigman