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NPR's Top Ten Copland CD Picks
(As chosen by the staff of Performance Today)

  • Piano Music: The Cat & The Mouse; 3 Moods; Petite Portrait; Passacaglia; Four Piano Blues; Sentimental Melody; Piano Variations; Sunday Afternoon Music; The Young Pioneers; Piano Sonata; Midsummer Nocturne; Piano Fantasy; Down a Country Lane; In the Evening Air; Night Thoughts; Two Pieces. Leo Smit, piano. (Sony SM2K 66345)
    Leo Smit, Copland's long-time friend and regular keyboard collaborator, offers these knowing performances of the central core of his piano works, along with many delightful diversions.

  • Fanfare for the Common Man; Lincoln Portrait (Philadelphia Orchestra conducted by Eugene Ormandy with narrator Adlai Stevenson); Three Dances Episodes from Rodeo, An Outdoor Overture (Cleveland Pops conducted by Louis Lane); The Red Pony Suite (St. Louis Symphony Orchestra conducted by Andre Previn). (Sony SBK 62401)
    The best Lincoln Portrait, coupled with Previn's exuberant recording of The Red Pony (his classical conducting debut on disc), make this mid-priced recording a winner.

  • Concerto for Clarinet and String Orchestra; Quiet City; Dance Panels. New York Chamber Symphony conducted by Gerard Schwarz with clarinetist Davis Shifrin. (EMI CDC 7 49095 2)
    The rarely heard Dance Panels from 1962 is the standout here. Clarinetist Shifrin does a fine job with the Benny Goodman-commissioned Concerto for Clarinet and String Orchestra, though he is out-jazzed by a Richard Stoltzman performance not available on any all-Copland collections.

  • The Tender Land Suite; Three Latin-American Sketches; The Red Pony Suite. The Phoenix Symphony conducted by James Sedares. (Koch International Classics 3-7092-2 H1)
    A warmly winning performance of the sweetest music from Copland's heartfelt opera, spiced with the tart brevity of Copland's late-in-life Latin sketches propels this "minor league" orchestra recording into the major leagues.

  • Fanfare for the Common Man; Appalachian Spring Suite; Rodeo; Billy the Kid Suite. New York Philharmonic conducted by Leonard Bernstein. (Sony MK 42265)
    Nobody did Copland with more authority than Bernstein and these zest-filled recordings, made at the height of Bernstein's tenure in New York, are simply the best.

  • Grohg; Prelude for Chamber Orchestra; Hear Ye! Hear Ye!. The Cleveland Orchestra and the London Sinfonietta conducted by Oliver Knussen. (Argo 443 203-2)
    Superb readings of Copland with an edge; none are major works in his catalogue but all are revealing of a serious side of the man too rarely heard.

  • Symphony for Organ and Orchestra; Dance Symphony; Short Symphony; Orchestral Variations. St. Louis Symphony Orchestra conducted by Leonard Slatkin. (RCA/BMG 09026-68292)
    Concerto for Piano and Orchestra; Orchestral Variations; Short Symphony; Symphonic Ode. San Francisco Symphony Orchestra conducted by Michael Tilson Thomas with pianist Garrick Ohlsson. (RCA/BMG 09026-68541-2)
    Two wonderfully conducted and expertly played collections of Copland's "modern" music. Each conductor has a personal vision of Copland and is perfectly in sync with his orchestra.

  • Symphony for Organ and Orchestra; Symphony No. 3. New York Philharmonic conducted by Leonard Bernstein with organist E. Power Biggs. (Sony SMK 63155)
    Copland's consciously epic Third Symphony requires a true believer to work on every level and Bernstein supplies the necessary fervent devotion. This recording offers the best argument for this work as a Great American Symphony.

  • Old American Songs (arranged for chorus); Canticle of Freedom; Four Motets. Utah Symphony and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir conducted by Michael Tilson Thomas. (Sony MK 42140)
    A fine collection of Copland's writing for voices that offers a real voyage of discovery for those who known Copland only through his splashy orchestral pieces.

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