Notes and Editorial Reviews
Various/Copland. CBS Masterworks 42431 [Appalachian Spring (complete ballet in original chamber scoring); Billy the Kid; Lincoln Portrait].
Although it has come to be much better known in Copland’s arrangement for full orchestra, Appalachian Spring was originally composed for a chamber-sized complement of 13 instruments, the maximum that would fit in front of the stage at the Coolidge Auditorium in the Library of Congress – where Martha Graham’s company gave the premiere of the ballet in 1944. Many listeners prefer the more vibrant and homespun sound of this original version of Appalachian Spring, with its intimate expressiveness, to the splashiness and color of Copland’s rescoring, as brilliant as it is. Here, Copland conducts a hand-picked group of New York free-lancers in what must be counted a definitive performance; the playing is energetic and expressive, the sentiment deep but not too sweet. Copland’s 1968 account of his Lincoln Portrait, with Henry Fonda as narrator, and 1969 reading of the suite from Billy the Kid round out the disc most satisfactorily. All three recordings are remarkably vivid. – Ted Libbey, author of
The NPR Guide to Building a Classical CD Collection.