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A great piece of music from a great orchestra and conductor


Aaron Copland, Symphony No. 3, "Three Latin American Sketches" performed by Detroit Symphony Orchestra and conductor Leonard Slatkin (Naxos)

Here is an argument just waiting to be had by lovers of American classical music: "Just what is the greatest American symphony?"

A lot of people – I'd venture to include myself – would nominate Copland's Third above all, even the Third and Fourth Symphonies of Charles Ives. What Slatkin tells us here is  that "what is less known is that after consultation with Leonard Bernstein, Copland made alterations to a few passages in this work. Only recently has the original version been made available to musicians."

Most striking, according to Slatkin, is the "elongated coda which adds a broader and richer palette of sonority to the already boisterous proceedings." So, then, something a little new in Copland's recording. The primal thrill of a towering performance of the Copland third  (yes, Bernstein's, for instance) is not here but this is a very good one. In any case, one of the greatest pieces of all American symphonic music, by any assay, performed by an orchestra and conductor of ideal sympathy.

3 1/2 stars (out of four)

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