With exceptionally vivid sound, bright and immediate, giving a realistic sense of presence, the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra's collection makes for a very distinctive Copland record of four works in which the composer is at his most approachable. The version of Appalachian Spring recorded here is neither the usual orchestral suite nor the ballet version, but a combination of the two which I cannot remember hearing on record before. In this version, published in 1958, Copland simply makes the same cuts as in the orchestral suite, but keeps the light, transparent scoring of the 13-instrument ballet version, though on his authority the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra augment the string section. The result is a delight, with each instrument cleanlyRead more identifiable, underlining the wide-open-spaces freshness of Copland's inspiration. The rhythmic bite is sharpened with the prominent piano giving the texture a distinctive colouring. The extra strings add a degree of sweetness without inflation.
The scale of performance in the other works, too, is most winning. The jaggedly obvious Stravinskyan echoes in the first movement of the Short Symphony are underlined by the closeness of the performance. Though this work, written between 1931 and 1933, uses triple woodwind, horns, trumpets, piano and strings, the absence of heavy brass and percussion prompted the composer himself to suggest that it is ''an enlarged chamber orchestra''. That is just the impression that a performance on the Orpheus scale conveys, with the relatively intimate acoustic of the Performing Arts Center at New York State University, Purchase, concentrating the sound, adding to the impact, though without aggression.
The hushed musical city-scape of Quiet city on this scale may not be quite so mistily evocative as with a full orchestra, but the intensity is if anything even greater, particularly when the trumpet and cor anglais soloists are so characterful. The Three Latin American Sketches date from several decades later. The second and third were written for the 1959 Spoleto Festival, and in 1971 Copland added the first to make the present effective triptych of fast, slow, fast, with the Latin-American rhythms of the final ''Danza de Jalisco'' particularly catchy.
In all this music the cutting edge of Copland's invention is enhanced in performances as immaculately drilled as these. Though there is nothing heartless about them there is a consistent sense of corporate purposefulness, of live communication made the more intense by the realism of the recording.
-- Edward Greenfield, Gramophone [8/1989] Read less
Works on This Recording
Appalachian Spring: Suiteby Aaron Copland Orchestra/Ensemble:
Orpheus Chamber Orchestra
Period: 20th Century Written: 1944-1945; USA
Quiet Cityby Aaron Copland Performer:
Raymond Mase (Trumpet),
Stephen Taylor (English Horn)
Orpheus Chamber Orchestra
Period: 20th Century Written: 1939; USA
Featured Sound Samples
Appalachian Spring: Suite
Three Latin American Sketches: 3. Danza de Jalisco
Average Customer Review: ( 1 Customer Review )
An Audiophile Must HaveJune 21, 2015By jim F. See All My Reviews"My wife and I keep coming back to this recording over and over. This is an example of the high fidelity recording matching up with the highest quality of these musicians. The individual instruments are so clearly reproduced on this recording. The Appalachian Spring composition is so delightfully emotional and sentimental that I end up literally crying by the end or more than once. You won't need a high definition recorded version - as this is one the finest CDs that I own among 1,000+. So glad to see that it is back in print. I use it as a reference recording for any system or digital file comparison."Report Abuse