The themes of these two pieces are almost opposites yet the music is quite similar — presumably why they have been paired — both pieces being bouncy and crisp, the liveliness of the speakeasy life portrayed in the first piece (Hear Ye!) matching the crispness of the pioneer life in Spring.
Hear Ye! Hear Ye! describes a court scene, where different witnesses (nightclub hostess, honeymoon couple, waiter) give accounts of a murder in a nightclub. There is happiness, tension, sensuality and a snatch of the Wedding March, the only common factor to each tale being the gunshots.
Appalachian Spring is his most famous work — Copland was awarded the 1945 Pulitzer prize for music for it. The piece incorporates Simple Gifts, a Shaker song written in 1848 by Joseph Brackett better known to us as Lord of the Dance.
This is a fine live performance (Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Detroit, 2013). Listening to some rock bands’ latest albums, it can be hard to say much about them: Foals deliver predictable high quality rock with a distinctive sound and you expect no less. Similarly, this is archetypal Copland played well; it’s probably one of the better performances of the work around, too, so there’s little to say in a review of this length.
Out on Naxos, 8.559806.
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