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Copland: Rodeo, Dance Panels... / Slatkin, Detroit

Release Date: 06/25/2013 
Label:  Naxos   Catalog #: 8559758   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Aaron Copland
Conductor:  Leonard Slatkin
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Detroit Symphony Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

In the late 1980s, Naxos released a perfectly decent bargain version of Rodeo, recorded in Bratislava under the direction of Stephen Gunzenhauser. Listening to it again it’s still very enjoyable. However, the label has steadily progressed over the years and in this latest offering Rodeo isn’t just a good bargain version. It’s a very good version at any price and should be snapped up by anyone remotely interested in the music of Aaron Copland.

In Rodeo Leonard Slatkin doesn’t match the snappy, hard driven virtuosity of Bernstein on CBS - nobody does - but many find that disc lacking in relaxation and quite wearing. The general approach in Detroit is somewhat more laid-back - refined, even - but that doesn’t imply that the
Read more execution isn’t rhythmically tight. This is playing of the highest calibre and time and again Slatkin reveals details that can be hidden or glossed over in other recordings. The timings for the opening Buckaroo Holiday are 7:00 (Bernstein) and 7:55 (Slatkin). In listening to both, putting the hair-raising Bernstein virtuosity to one side for a moment, I find the Slatkin to be more engaging and involving. It doesn’t just pass you by; it draws you in. From the opening bars you hear a deep sonorous bottom end, full-toned brass, clean string sound and biting transients. Later on the throatily realistic double bass section introduces some trombone playing that just about stays this side of becoming tasteless. The glissandi are pretty outrageous but it’s a piece that’s full of fun at the end of the day. The extended version of Saturday Night Waltz includes an entertaining honky-tonk piano solo. Corral Nocturne is suitably sensuous and the concluding Hoe-Down clocks in at 4:47 compared to 3:06 (Bernstein), 3:16 (Gunzenhauser) and 3:18 (Johanos/Dallas, a fine disc on Vox). These timings are somewhat misleading. Admittedly, Slatkin does take the music at a slightly slower tempo than usual but he also includes a substantial section of music that isn’t to be heard in the other recordings. It brings Rodeo to a very satisfying conclusion.

I have never heard Dance Panels before and quite frankly I’m amazed that such a great piece has been so overlooked. The music is closer to the sound-worlds of Quiet City and Appalachian Spring and makes a welcome contrast to the preceding Rodeo. The music is gentle, ruminative and sophisticated in nature. Even in the more invigorating passages such as the Scherzando of the third movement and the mercurial Con brio of the fifth section (a percussion showcase) the orchestration remains controlled and the very opposite of brash. The woodwind excel throughout and there are some gorgeous sonorities and beautiful tunes. This is Copland at his finest and it’s quite a find. I challenge anyone not to fall for this music.

The two fillers are despatched with aplomb. El Salón México is superb, opening as it does with its sleazy trumpet solo and cheeky bassoons. Slatkin yet again demonstrates that music such as this doesn’t have to be fast and furious to make its mark. The slow sections conjure up scenes of lazy days in the sun and that’s what Mexico, as pictured by the composer, should be all about isn’t it? The playing is never over the top. It’s done with great taste and refinement but there’s not one boring bar to be heard. All the orchestral soloists have a field day. The closing bars are as thrilling as you could wish for. The concluding Danzón Cubano, one of Copland’s real pot-boilers, brings the disc to a rousing end.

In summary, this is a great CD featuring top recommendations for Rodeo and El Salón México and a wonderful rarity in the shape of Dance Panels that I urge everyone to hear. The Detroit Orchestra, in superb form for their inspirational conductor, are captured in spectacular and beautiful sound.

– John Whitmore, MusicWeb International Read less

Works on This Recording

Rodeo: Four Dance Episodes by Aaron Copland
Conductor:  Leonard Slatkin
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Detroit Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1942; USA 
Dance Panels by Aaron Copland
Conductor:  Leonard Slatkin
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Detroit Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1959/1962; USA 
El salón México by Aaron Copland
Conductor:  Leonard Slatkin
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Detroit Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1932-1936; USA 
Danzón Cubano by Aaron Copland
Conductor:  Leonard Slatkin
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Detroit Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1942; USA 

Sound Samples

Rodeo: I. Buckaroo Holiday
Rodeo: II. Corral Nocturne
Rodeo: III. Ranch House Party
Rodeo: IV. Saturday Night Waltz
Rodeo: V. Hoe Down
Dance Panels: I. Introduction: Moderato (Tempo di valzer) - Espressivo un poco rubato
Dance Panels: II. Allegretto con tenerezza (Un poco rubato)
Dance Panels: III. Scherzando - Moderato
Dance Panels: IV. Pas de trois: Lento
Dance Panels: V. Con brio
Dance Panels: VI. Con moto
Dance Panels: VII. Molto ritmico - Coda - Come prima - Moderato
El salon Mexico
Danzon cubano: Danzon Cubano

Customer Reviews

Average Customer Review:  2 Customer Reviews )
 Classy!! May 28, 2016 By Henry S. (Springfield, VA) See All My Reviews "I am in total agreement with James Johnson's opinion of this excellent recording. By any standard, Leonard Slatkin's Detroit Symphony Orchestra ranks as one of American's premiere ensembles, and its affinity for these iconic Copland works is easy to understand and appreciate. What a fine performance this is! Never mind that most of the program consists of orchestral 'chestnuts' (Rodeo, El Salon' Mexico, Danzon' Cubano), which any classical music fan worthy of the name will instantly recognize. Two things give this CD a special quality- Leonard Slatkin's superb interpretation of these wonderful compositions and the demonstration quality sound produced by the DSO and the Naxos audio engineers. An added bonus is Copland's lesser known ballet Dance Panels, which deserve to be heard just the like other works. You may own other Copland recordings, but few are likely to surpass this one, so by all means consider adding this real jewel to your collection. Recommended." Report Abuse
 Beautiful recording December 4, 2013 By James A. Johnston Sr (Lake Orion , MI) See All My Reviews "Slatkin, DSO,and Orchestra Hall-Detroit Shine! First class recording,world class orchestra and world class conductor" Report Abuse
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