Copland: Symphony No 3; Letter from Home; Down a Country Lane; Connotations

Reviewed on Mon 24 Dec, 2018

John Wilson takes a fast-paced approach to voicing the optimistic aspirations of the Third Symphony, completed in the aftermath of the Second World War.

Set aside the confusion here (and on the Chandos website) about which volume this is in John Wilson’s vivid, often illuminating Copland survey (it’s the fourth), and you’ll find yourself with a satisfying programme, at the centre of which is the original version of the Third Symphony. Caught somewhere between the oratorical richness of Leonard Bernstein (Sony) and the measured poetry of Leonard Slatkin (Naxos), Wilson takes a fast-paced approach to voicing the optimistic aspirations of a work completed in the aftermath of the Second World War. Even so, it seems underplayed and erring on the side of sentiment. Of interest is a spirited but sparkless account of the seldom recorded 12-tone-accented Connotations. The ‘fillers’ are exquisitely realised, Letter from Home conjuring the burnished ethos of Copland’s frontier romanticism, Down a Country Lane a warm, liquid and relaxed exercise in nostalgia. Characteristically vivid Chandos sound is heightened by the SACD recording.
–Michael Quinn