AARON COPLAND - Billy the Kid

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AARON COPLAND - Billy the Kid - El Salón México - Rodeo - An Outdoor Overture - Colorado Symphony - Andrew Litton (Conductor) - 7318599921648 - Released: January 2016 - BIS SACD-2164

If you're hankerin' (pun intended) for the sound of music that evokes the spirit of the pioneers and paints, in broad strokes, vivid images of the Wild West, these iconic ballet scores and orchestral works by Aaron Copland (1900-1990) should do the trick. This music would have fit right in as the background soundtrack to some of the biggest Hollywood westerns. The picture on the cover of this CD is exactly what Introduction: The Open Prairie from Billy the Kid aims to evoke. The sound of the Colorado Symphony, natural and wide open, fits this music like a glove, and conductor Andrew Litton is not afraid to expose, and even ramp up, the "hokeyness" inherent to some of the movements. This is Copland at his best played up to the hilt. Drunkards leaving a frontier town saloon, a starlit canopy over an open corral, the explosive sounds of a gun fight, the lazy sensual nature of a Mexican dance, and the exhuberant energy of a hoe-down. It's all there, and by looking past the "big" country aspects, Litton does a great job of fleshing out the details, and even playing the honky-tonk piano himself for the Ranch House Party. These impressive pieces have seen more than their fair share of definitive recordings by Bernstein, Dorati, Slatkin, Tilson Thomas, and Copland himself, but this new recording should have no problem joining those ranks, and even enjoys the bonus advantage of yet another exceptional BIS engineered sound recording. You can almost smell the leather off the saddles!

Jean-Yves Duperron - February 2016