Aaron Copland: Music for Films
St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, Leonard Slatkin, conductor, RCA Victor Red Seal 09026-61699-2 (one CD) .
Aaron Copland might be called the national landscape painter of American composers; he is best known for evocative panoramas like Appalachian Spring and Billy the Kid . He painted classic American scenes in the music he wrote for Hollywood in the 1930s and 1940s too, as is winningly shown here. The movies represented on this disc are The Red Pony , Our Town , The Heiress , Of Mice and Men , and The City ; the views portrayed include a California ranch in the morning, the New England countryside, New York City in both the 185Os and the 1930s, and Thornton Wilder’s hushed fictional village of Grover’s Corners. Copland wrote that when he was composing the music for the documentary The City , “I learned the most basic rule: A film is not a concert; the music is meant to help the picture.” He also learned that the typical overripe, post-Wagnerian Hollywood sound was not for him. He composed movie music in a plainspoken, broad-spirited, sometimes nostalgic voice that stands strongly, warmly on its own and seems perfectly matched to the ail-American scenes he portrays. The topnotch American conductor Leonard Slatkin leads the St. Louis Symphony in glowing performances.