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Aaron Copland: Billy the Kid; Rodeo; An Outdoor Overture; El Salon Mexico / Colorado SO, Andrew Litton

Album Summary

>Copland, Aaron : An Outdoor Overture, for orchestra or band
>Copland, Aaron : Billy the Kid, ballet
>Copland, Aaron : El Salón México, for orchestra
>Copland, Aaron : Rodeo
Performer Conductor Ensembles Composer

Notes & Reviews:

Having taken up the post of music director with the Colorado Symphony in 2013, Andrew Litton has chosen a highly fitting programme for the orchestra's first recording on BIS: the Wild West, its folk music, traditions and legends loom large in Aaron Copland's ballet scores Billy the Kid and Rodeo. The two works were the result of the composer's search during the early 1930's for a new musical language. Copland himself described his reasons for this as follows: 'An entirely new public for music had grown up around the radio and the phonograph. It made no sense to ignore them and to continue writing as if they did not exist. I felt that it was worth the effort to see if I couldn't say what I had to say in the simplest possible terms.' In the two ballets, this new direction can be felt in the immediacy of the music, but also in Copland's use of cowboy tunes. A similar approach, but with Mexican themes, characterizes the slightly earlier El Saln Mxico, inspired by a visit to a dance-hall in Mexico and the atmosphere he experienced there. Whereas these three works belong to the most popular in Copland's entire production, the opening piece, An Outdoor Overture, is something of a rarity - especially on disc. Composed in the same year as Billy the Kid, the overture was part of an educational campaign with the slogan 'American Music for American Youth' and its snappy rhythms and colourful orchestration will have made it as successful in its original purpose as it is here, as a curtain raiser. The Colorado Symphony is obviously enjoying itself in this all-American programme, as is its conductor andrew Litton, who joins the revelry as honky-tonk pianist in the Celebration section of Billy the Kid and the Ranch House Party in Rodeo, before bringing the disc to a rollicking end in that ballet's closing section, Hoe-Down.

Gramophone Magazine, January 2016
These lively performances make a useful collection.

American Record Guide, May/June 2016
The Colorado Symphony sounds like a solid mid-sized orchestra. Its ensemble is tight, with excellent soloists and a good deal of effective interplay and handing off of lines. These performances can be thought of as a great pit orchestra's take on the works, and BIS's sound does full justice to them. Litton, who has done wonders for that group as well as the orchestras of Bournemouth, Dallas, and Bergen, has given up his Music Director post in Denver to take over the New York City Ballet.

Zinman's romantic performances of the two ballets on Argo are on a grander and more symphonic scale and played by what sounds like a subtly more mature Baltimore Symphony (Nov/Dec 1994). Antal Dorati's Billy on Mercury with the London Symphony has wonderful nobility, elegance, and sound. Slatkin's St Louis recordings for EMI are complete Naxos recording of Rodeo with the Detroit Symphony is good if you like the discmates (Mar/Apr 2014). Choice between Litton, Zinman, and Dorati depends on stylistic preference. I would not be without any of them, but if forced to pick one it would be Litton, which is an outstanding addition to the Copland discography.

Notes & Reviews:

Recording information: Boettcher Concert Hall, Denver, Colorado, USA (11/2014).



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Works Details

>Copland, Aaron : An Outdoor Overture, for orchestra or band
  • Performer: Andrew Litton (Piano)
  • Conductor: Andrew Litton
  • Ensemble: Colorado Symphony
  • Running Time: 8 min. 28 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Form: Orchestral
  • Written: 1937-1941

>Copland, Aaron : Billy the Kid, ballet
  • Performer: Andrew Litton (Piano)
  • Conductor: Andrew Litton
  • Running Time: 23 min. 48 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Form: Ballet
  • Written: 1938

>Copland, Aaron : El Salón México, for orchestra
  • Performer: Andrew Litton (Piano)
  • Conductor: Andrew Litton
  • Notes: Composition written: 1933-36.
  • Running Time: 11 min. 33 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Form: Ballet
  • Written: 1933-1936

>Copland, Aaron : Rodeo
  • Performer: Andrew Litton (Piano)
  • Conductor: Andrew Litton
  • Running Time: 21 min. 3 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Written: 1942