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DAVID THOMPSON is impressed by
'Copland Connotations - Studies and Interviews'


Like the music of the man it honours, this symposium provides a wide range of riches, and appeals to many levels of musical appreciation. It is an essential addition to the Copland bibliography, as one would confidently expect from a project masterminded by Peter Dickinson, whose tireless and knowledgeable evangelism in the cause of American music in general, and the music of Copland in particular, is deservedly well-known. He has assembled some fascinating material here, from scholars on both sides of the Atlantic. Some are household names in the field, but Dickinson has also enlisted some exciting new blood, and the result is an enlightening read at the cutting edge of contemporary scholarship.

The book is arranged in five convenient sections, and the reader therefore has the choice of working through the related articles section by section, or of treating the book as a chocolate box of delights, and dipping in according to the fancied flavour of the moment. My own impatience to sample tantalising titles deeper in the book led me to take the latter course.

'Copland Connotations - Studies and Interviews' - edited by Peter Dickinson
'Copland Connotations - Studies and Interviews' - edited by Peter Dickinson

The range and scope of the material is considerable. It could hardly be otherwise if it is to give a rounded perspective of an artist of such infinite variety. Copland's lifelong quest to create music of personal truth and integrity led him seriously to appraise and embrace virtually every musical avenue of the twentieth century, to separate the wheat from the chaff, and to make the resulting harvest unmistakably his own. Superficially, a 'popular' work such as Appalachian Spring, which can bring down the house as readily as a Tchaikovsky finale, seems light years away from the uncompromisingly tough nut that is Connotations, a work which so bemused large sections of the expectant Great and Good at its première. But the voice that speaks to the educated ear is recognisably and unmistakably the same. One of the great achievements of this book, considered as a whole, is that it shows us how and why this is so.

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Copyright © 23 February 2003 David Thompson, Eastwood, Essex, UK


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