Copland: Appalachian Spring (Complete Ballet); Hear ye! Hear ye!

Reviewed on Thu 13 Oct, 2016

Copland's 1934 ballet Hear ye! Hear ye! is set in a Chicago courtroom, its colourful mix of urban jazz, madcap humour, sleazy burlesque and serene grace blazing the trail for Bernstein's popular stage-works.

Composed for the American dancer and choreographer Ruth Page (1899-1991), Copland's 1934 ballet Hear ye! Hear ye! is set in a Chicago courtroom, its colourful mix of urban jazz, madcap humour, sleazy burlesque and serene grace blazing the trail for Bernstein's popular stage-works. Although suffering from a dearth of truly memorable material, it certainly makes for both intriguing and entertaining listening, and, suffice to say, Slatkin and his Detroit colleagues are on roistering form. It's paired with a comparatively rare outing for Appalachian Spring played absolutely uncut and in its guise for full orchestra. Slatkin's own 1988 Saint Louis Symphony version for EMI Angel (now Warner Classics) was very fine and so, too, is this immensely spirited Naxos newcomer: not only is the playing polished, lithe and dedicated, his unhurried conception again displays all the poetry, spontaneity and fresh-faced wonder one could desire (the magically soft closing pages are deeply touching). Even the slightly dry acoustic of Detroit's Orchestra Hall is aptly reminiscent of the theatre pit. An excellent coupling.
–Andrew Achenbach