COPLAND: Rodeo (complete ba;;et). El Salón Mexico. Danzon Cubano.
Detroit Symphony Orch/Leonard Slatkin, cond.
NAXOS 8.559758 TT: 70:13

COPLAND: Hear Ye! Hear Ye! Appalachian Spring (complete ballet).
Detroit Symphony Orch/Leonard Slatkin, cond.
NAXOS 8.559806 TT: 72:29

TCHAIKOVSKY: Piano Concerto No. 2 in G Op. 44. Concert Fantasy im G, Op. 56.
Eldar Nebolsin, piano. New Zealamd Symphony Orch/Michael Stern, cond.
NAXOS 8.573462 TT: 72:20

SPOHR: Symphony No. 3 in C minor, Op. 78. Symphony No. 6 in G, Op. 116.
Slovak Philharmonic Orch/Alfred Walter, cond.
NAXOS 8.8.555533 TT; 63:09

Both of these new Copland disks are welcome additions to the composer's discography. Leonard Slatkin has recorded all of these before, but these new versions are with the Detroit Symphony, an orchestra of which he has been Music Director sine 2008. Obviously the union has been felicitous. He is at his best in this repertory, and here we have two well-filled disks containing four complete ballets: Appalachian Spring, Rodeo and Billy the Kid along with the lesser-known Hear Ye! Hear Ye! This is a ballet written for famous dancer/choreographer Ruth Page in 1934 and premiered by her in Chicago the following year. There are 18 brief scenes including many lively dances. In the score, Copland utilizes some of his earlier works; he was not very pleased with it and soon withdrew it. The ballet takes place in a Chicago nightclub where a male dancer is murdered, and in the trial three witnesses give entirely different accounts of what happened. It is given a fine performance by Slatkin and his orchestra, and as a bonus we have El Salón México, Danzon Cubano amd Dance Panels. A fine convenient collection for Copland collectors. Recordings were made in Orchestra Hall at the Max M. and Marjorie S. Fisher Music Center in Detroit.

The first time I heard Tchaikovsky's Concert Fantasy for Piano and Orchestra was the early Decca recording with Peter Katin and Sir Adrian Bouilt conducting the London Philharmonic recorded in 1958 in the early days of stereo. You can hear it on Pristine Classics. That brilliant performance set a standard for the work, a very unjustly neglected major Tchaikovsky concerto, and few have matched it although there are superb recordings by Stephen Hough and Peter Donohoe. There also is an outstanding video with Mikhail Pletne. This Naxos disk is not competitive in any way. The Concerto fares better than the Concert Fantasy, but neither impresses, and the recorded sound is unexceptional. Collectors have numerous competing versions that are far superior. If you don't know these two Tchaikovsky works, you should investigate them. And if you are interested in a superb SACD recording of Concerto No. 2, check out the Chandos issue with Xayin Wang, coupled with the Khachsaturian concerto (REVIEW).

Naxos continues their admirable series of the ten symphonies of Louis Spohr (1784 - 1859) with this reissue of Symphonies 3 and 6 with the Slovak State Philharmonic directed by Alfred Walter. There is a second disk containing symphonies 1 and 5 (Naxos 8.555500). All were recorded 1990 - 1991 iu Kosice's House of Arts. This site has praised previous issues of symphonies 2 and 9 (REVIEW). This is an inexpensive way to acquire these important symphonies.

R.E.B. (November 2016)