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A Copland Celebration Vol 2 - Chamber Music & Rarities

Release Date: 11/07/2000 
Label:  Sony   Catalog #: 89326   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Aaron Copland
Performer:  Earl CarlyssAaron CoplandClaus AdamRaphael Hillyer,   ... 
Conductor:  Andre Kostelanetz
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Juilliard String Quartet membersJuilliard String QuartetNew York Philharmonic
Number of Discs: 2 
Recorded in: Mono & Stereo 
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This CD is reissued by ArkivMusic.

Notes and Editorial Reviews

This set was the first CD release of many rare Copland recordings, many involving the composer himself. Copland enthusiasts will not want to be without it.

...Sony, who have come in for considerable stick in some quarters, have here done a regal job... The great attraction of these sets is the harvest of previously CD-unavailable tapes. The following receive their first CD release here: ...Vitebsk, Piano Quartet, Lincoln Portrait, Dickinson Poems, Old American Songs... The two Billy extracts played by Oscar Levant appear for the first time on any commercial medium... The sets were issued in Copland centenary year (2000) and merit attention here... Discographical documentation is good and background notes (in English
Read more only) are by Copland biographer, Howard Pollack...


Copland is the pianist in all four works and in three of them he is joined by the Juilliard or at least by three members of the Quartet.

Vitebsk [11.37] shows Copland light years distant from the sharp freshness of Appalachian Spring. This speaks more of winters and pogroms and does so in the choleric and impatient accents of kletzmer and Shostakovich. Just once [7.07] did I catch the 'old' Copland. Delivered with malevolent precision by the composer with members of the Juilliard.

The Sextet (about 15 mins) is just as busy as Vitebsk but less 'fractured'. It draws its strengths from the ballet scores - I thought most often of Billy The Kid. Respite from the intersection of vigorous dance motifs comes in a lento that rises to a scale-descending oration in which bell tones are suggested by the interplay of Harold Wright's clarinet and Copland's piano. It is an arrangement of the Short Symphony (1932-3).

The Piano Quartet [c. 20 mins] rears up from serious sunless realms towards cloudless skies and then sinks shiveringly back into dissonant anxiety and protest with Copland clearly relishing the exposed piano notes punched out in defiance. Rather like Vitebsk this is a work of occluded or at least strained tonality. Normal service is restored in the Non troppo lento (valiant choice for a finale) that subtly stalks and claws its way up to a lyrical statement.

The Duo is modestly titled. It is in three movements (running c. 13 minutes) each unassumingly titled: Flowing; Poetic, somewhat mournful; Lively, with bounce. While the other three works come from sessions in 1966 this one is from two 1972 dates. Elaine Shaffer is not as fruitily toned as some flautists but she endues her primo role with great feeling. The outer movements give us instantly recognisable vintage Copland (Appalachia clearly seen) while the central movement leaves us in the tonally-challenged shadowlands.


Carl Sandburg's sing-song delivery in Lincoln Portrait is affecting. With his sibilant-emphasised speech and his unusual word accenting this may not suit everyone. Still and all I found this registered very freshly in a work I have heard in many versions. Kostelanetz and the NYPO perform with fervour.

The Portrait was commissioned by Kostelanetz. He and Sandburg premiered the work in Cincinnati on 14 May 1942. The work tapped into the spirit of the times and was performed throughout the USA and beyond. Cincinnati was also the scene of the premiere of Fanfare for the Common Man, less than a year later, on 12 March 1943.

I have always been a sucker for works with orator and orchestra. Do hear this already throat-lumpy work intoned with unHollywoodlike modesty and the occasional fallible stumble by one of America's foremost poets. Sandburg's poetry inspired several of the tone poems of Chicago composer, Leo Sowerby.

Stepping away from grandeur we come to the microcosm of Martha Lipton in the Dickinson Songs. The 1952 original is not in pristine condition. Rumble and a low level rough hiss are there but Lipton's dark-hued voice is preserved in good condition without distortion. Across the three volumes this is the only work to be duplicated albeit with a different singer. Both versions are with the composer at the piano. The Lipton is mono (1952) while the Adele Addison is stereo (1964).

Warfield in the American Songs [both sets] is in resonant voice though inclined to wobble on longer notes. Consciously folksy by contrast with the artsong edge of the Dickinson songs they are disarming and the strength of Warfield is his sincere delivery - no trace of embarrassed pastiche. Operatic delivery or condescension would flatten these songs. Seeger and Peter, Paul and Mary are a toddler's step away from this style. I loved The Little Horses. Zion's Walls shares a linkage with The Promise of Living from the opera The Tender Land - a work we will come back to. These versions, accompanied by the composer, are in mono from 1951 and 1953. A decade or so later he recorded the orchestral arrangement of both sets. These are on volume 3.

In 1949 Oscar Levant best known for his Gershwin and Tchaikovsky, not to mention his Hollywood connections, went into the Columbia 30th Street studios in 1949 to record three extracts from Billy the Kid. These are arrangements made by Lukas Foss. The Open Prairie has been issued before. Levant trips along in a tart combination of Shostakovich and Kurt Weill in the Celebration Dance - one can hear where Kapustin might have absorbed some of his influences.

-- Rob Barnett, MusicWeb International
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Works on This Recording

Vitebsk by Aaron Copland
Performer:  Earl Carlyss (Violin), Aaron Copland (Piano), Claus Adam (Cello)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Juilliard String Quartet members
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1929; USA 
Date of Recording: 10/28/1966 
Venue:  Columbia 30th Street Studios, NYC 
Length: 11 Minutes 37 Secs. 
Sextet for String Quartet, Clarinet and Piano by Aaron Copland
Performer:  Earl Carlyss (Violin), Claus Adam (Cello), Raphael Hillyer (Viola),
Aaron Copland (Piano), Harold Wright (Clarinet), Robert Mann (Violin)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Juilliard String Quartet
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1937; USA 
Date of Recording: 10/27/1966 
Venue:  Columbia 30th Street Studios, NYC 
Quartet for Piano and Strings by Aaron Copland
Performer:  Claus Adam (Cello), Raphael Hillyer (Viola), Robert Mann (Violin),
Aaron Copland (Piano)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Juilliard String Quartet members
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1950; USA 
Date of Recording: 10/28/1966 
Venue:  Columbia 30th Street Studios, NYC 
Length: 21 Minutes 15 Secs. 
Duo for Flute and Piano by Aaron Copland
Performer:  Elaine Shaffer (Flute), Aaron Copland (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1971; USA 
Date of Recording: 12/1972 
Venue:  Columbia 30th Street Studios, NYC 
Lincoln Portrait by Aaron Copland
Performer:  Carl Sandburg (Spoken Vocals)
Conductor:  Andre Kostelanetz
Orchestra/Ensemble:  New York Philharmonic
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1942; USA 
Date of Recording: 03/16/1958 
Venue:  Columbia 30th Street Studios, NYC 
Length: 13 Minutes 55 Secs. 
Language: English 
Poems (12) of Emily Dickinson by Aaron Copland
Performer:  Martha Lipton (Mezzo Soprano), Aaron Copland (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1949-1950; USA 
Date of Recording: 1950-52 
Venue:  Columbia 30th Street Studios, NYC 
Length: 27 Minutes 46 Secs. 
Language: English 
Old American Songs by Aaron Copland
Performer:  Aaron Copland (Piano), William Warfield (Baritone)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: USA 
Date of Recording: 08/18/1953 
Venue:  Columbia 30th Street Studios, NYC 
Length: 23 Minutes 41 Secs. 
Language: English 
Notes: Composition written: USA (1950 - 1952). 
Billy the Kid: The open prairie by Aaron Copland
Performer:  Oscar Levant (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1938; USA 
Date of Recording: 09/01/1949 
Venue:  Columbia 30th Street Studios, NYC 
Length: 2 Minutes 53 Secs. 
Notes: Transcribed: Lukas Foss 
Billy the Kid: Street in a frontier town by Aaron Copland
Performer:  Oscar Levant (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1938; USA 
Date of Recording: 09/01/1949 
Venue:  Columbia 30th Street Studios, NYC 
Length: 1 Minutes 37 Secs. 
Notes: Transcribed: Lukas Foss 
Billy the Kid: Celebration (after Billy's capture) by Aaron Copland
Performer:  Oscar Levant (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1938; USA 
Date of Recording: 09/01/1949 
Venue:  Columbia 30th Street Studios, NYC 
Length: 1 Minutes 54 Secs. 
Notes: Transcribed: Lukas Foss 

Sound Samples

Vitebsk, Study on a Jewish Theme for Piano Trio
I. Allegro vivace
II. Lento
III. Finale
I. Adagio serio
II. Allegro giusto
III. Non troppo lento
I. Flowing
II. Poetic, somewhat mournful
III. Lively, with bounce
A Lincoln Portrait
I. Nature, the gentlest mother
II. There came a wind like a bugle
III. Why do they shut me out of Heaven?
IV. The world feels dusty
V. Heart, we will forget him
VI. Dear March, come in!
VII. Sleep is supposed to be
VIII. When they come back
IX. I felt a funeral in my brain
X. I've heard an organ talk sometimes
XI. Going to Heaven!
XII. The Chariot
The Boatmen's Dance (Minstrel Song, 1843)
The Dodger (Campaign Song)
Long Time Ago (Ballad)
Simple Gifts (Shaker Song)
I Bought Me a Cat (Children's Song)
The Little Horses (Lullaby)
Zion's Walls (Revivalist Song)
The Golden Willow Tree (Anglo-American Ballad)
At the River (Hymn Tune)
Ching-a-ring Chaw (Minstrel Song)
I. The Open Prairie (Piano Arrangement)
II. Street Scene in a Frontier Town: a) Cowboys amble by (Piano Arrangement)
V. Celebration Dance (after Billy's Capture) (Piano Arrangement)

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