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Copland / Appalachian Spring (1945 Suite): 2/2

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Uploaded on Dec 30, 2011

Aaron Copland (1900-1990)

Appalachian Spring (1945 Orchestral Suite)

00:00 - Allegro: Solo Dance of the Bride
02:49 - Meno mosso. Transition scene to music reminiscent of the introduction.
05:08 - Doppio movimento: Variations on a Shaker Hymn
08:28 - Moderato: Coda

Antal Dorati conducts the London Symphony Orchestra. Recorded by Mercury in 1961.

"Appalachian Spring (Ballet for Martha) was written in 1943-44, to satisfy a commission from the Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge Foundation, and first performed by Martha Graham and her company at the Coolidge Festival in the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., October 30, 1944. The orchestral suite, recorded here, omitting certain sections of the ballet and rescored for concert performance, dates from the spring of 1945. The same year the work won both the Pulitzer Prize for music and the New York Music Critics Circle Award for stage works of the previous season.

"Copland described the action of the ballet as concerning 'a pioneer celebration in spring around a newly-built farmhouse in the Pennsylvania Hills in the early part of the last century. The bride-to-be and the young farmer-husband enact the emotions, joyful and apprehensive, their new domestic partnership invites. An older neighbor suggests now and then the rocky confidence of experience. A revivalist and his followers remind the new householders of the strange and terrible aspects of human fate. At the end the couple are left quiet and strong in their new house.'

"The music of Appalachian Spring explores still more inventively the vein of lucidity opened by the works just preceding. With one exception, however, it does not make use of pre-existing tunes; like Bartók and Falla, Copland has distilled the character of folk music and imbued the entire fabric with its essence. The one exception is a Shaker hymn, 'Simple Gifts,' found in Edward D. Andrews's collection, which forms the basis of a set of variations in the seventh of the eight sections of the ballet suite.

"Here is the same openness of texture that characterized Billy the Kid, though the melodic and harmonic formations are more often triadic than quintal or quartal. The tunes themselves savor of folklore, though of a somewhat sophistical variety. The dancelike tunes in particular make use of jagged leaps and frequently irregular rhythms, which somehow never negate their 'barn dance' quality. ... Appalachian Spring is mainly reflective and subtle. Even in its more athletic pages--the dance of the revivalist and his flock, and the joyful dance of the bride--it remains relatively subjective.

"The scores of few ballets are sufficiently integrated to make concert performance meaningful without knowledge of plot and choreography. Copland's Pennsylvania 'rite of spring' is one of the few; its musical values are sufficient by themselves to keep it in focus. The orchestral suite can, and does, stand on its own feet." - Halsey Stevens

Painting: The White Birch, Thomas Wilmer Dewing

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