Rodeo (Four Dance Episodes) / The Red Pony (Suite) / Prairie Journal / Letter from Home
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|7. I. Morning On The Ranch|
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|9. III. A: Dream March|
|10. III B: Circus Music|
|11. IV. Walk To The Bunkhouse|
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|13. VI. Happy Ending|
This Copland collection is devoted specifically to works inspired by the spacious landscape of the American prairie. The Suite for the 1948 film of John Steinbeck's novel The Red Pony, depicts life on a ranch in California. The composer described the musi
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
'Prairie Journal' (earlier called, and sometime still listed as 'Music for Radio') was written in 1937 for CBS (along with commissioned works by Roy Harris, Howard Hanson, Louis Gruenberg, Walter Piston and William Grant Still). Initially called simply 'Music for Radio' there was a contest for naming it and the winner was 'Saga of the Prairie.' Copland took this suggestion to heart and renamed it 'Prairie Journal.' It is an eleven-minute evocation of the agrarian west with bustling themes, catchy rhythms, and eventually the serenity of approaching night on the prairie. This is a work worthy of being programmed more than occasionally.
'Letter from Home' was commissioned during wartime 1944 and conjures up the feelings of a soldier, far from home, receiving a letter from the folks (or perhaps the girlfriend). It has a plaintive tune first sung by the clarinet and then harmonized in an almost dreamy style. A melancholy trumpet tune recalls a similar passage in Appalachian Spring. (I wonder if this piece has ever been choreographed? It would be suitable for a solo dance, I should think.)
Of course, the dance episodes from 'Rodeo' are extremely well-known, and their hair-trigger rhythms are given a marvelously alive performance here by the crack Buffalo Philharmonic under Joann Falletta. Almost as well known are the excerpts from one of Copland's film scores, 'The Red Pony.' This has always been a great favorite of mine and I approve of the way Falletta and her orchestra manage the alternation of nostalgia, exciting, and parodic elements of the score. One might quibble some at the occasionally awkward tempo shifts, but generally speaking this is a performance that can stand with the best, including those of Leonard Bernstein.
Sound is excellent. My only complaint is the slightly short timing of the CD -- 59:55 -- and wish there could have been another selection. There would even have been time, for instance, for a performance of the 'Billy the Kid' suite. Ah, well, what we get here is certainly worth the budget outlay.
It is already been mentioned, in the other reviews, of the need for space in Copland's music. The music must be allowed to breathe, and to display the composer's rich use of harmonic and orchestral color, as well as rhythmic excitement.
This CD allows it in spades. Balance, intonation, and color are all delightfully presented in this recording. Rhythms are tight and focused, but not at the expense of sonic depth. That one can purchase this at such a bargain-basement price removes any reason not to order it immediately.
Ms. Falletta, the Buffalo Philharmonic, and the Naxos team are to be commended in providing us with such an excellently-produced disc. Do not hesitate; hit that order button!