Copland Conducts Copland – Los Angeles Philharmonic and Benny Goodman – Naxos Blu-ray 

It’s a thrill to see Copland conducting his own works, even if the audio and video are not up to modern standards 

Copland Conducts Copland (1976) with the Los Angeles Philharmonic and Benny Goodman / This concert was filmed in the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in Los Angeles/ Naxos Blu-ray NBD0068V Stereo Tracks and an upscaled NTSC video recording. TT: 58:44 (3/18/18) ****:

When I saw this disc arrive in the mail I was wondering how I could see the great Aaron Copland conducting in high resolution video from a concert in 1976. Alas, it wasn’t possible, but there aren’t a lot of video tapes of Copland conducting his own works, so this disc, with compromised video (by modern standards) and a rather thin stereo recording is still a treat, and something that lovers of American music and Copland in particular will cherish.

It’s fair to say that Copland is the best interpreter of his own works as anyone, although there is much from Leonard Bernstein and a few others to be admired.

The disc contains the Copland we might expect:

Fanfare for the Common Man
El Salon Mexico
Clarinet Concerto (with Benny Goodman)
Hoe-Down from Rodeo
Suite from The Tender Land (with the Roger Wagner Chorale)

Each piece begins with some words by Copland about the work to be heard, and there’s some insights from the master about how each composition came to be. The Clarinet Concerto features Benny Goodman, who in fact was first to perform the work after it was written. It’s a lovely piece, and quite stirring to see Goodman and Copland together.

The video is plain old NTSC from the 70s, and it has been upscaled to 1080i, but no matter. This is Copland in the flesh, with the very fine Los Angeles Philharmonic, so the performances are just fine. With Copland conducting, perhaps definitive.

Audio-wise this is a listenable sound track with good stereo separation, but you won’t confuse it with a modern high resolution multi-channel recording.

I think it is great that Naxos found these tapes and offered this rare concert recording to music lovers. Highly recommended.

—Mel Martin

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