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Jason Victor Serinus
Secrets of Home Theater and High Fidelity, November 2011

those wishing to dive deeper into Copland’s legacy, and an oeuvre that captures the “pep and zip of American life,” this DVD is a nice place to start. © 2011 Secrets of Home Theater and High Fidelity Read complete review

Stephen Estep
American Record Guide, November 2011

This is a solid documentary, and it stays interesting and doesn’t get stale.

The performances are good…and the sound…is…satisfactory…this is a good Copland portrait.

To read the complete review, please visit American Record Guide online.

Dave Saemann
Fanfare, November 2011

This DVD is a very enjoyable…Wolff lead a lovely performance…Stella Doufexis also gives a lovely rendition of three of the orchestrated Emily Dickinson songs.

…this is a good biography with a healthy dollop of beautiful music. It adds to my appreciation of Copland…

Walter Simmons
Fanfare, November 2011

This is an excellent overview of Copland—his life, his musical style, and his place in the history of American music…

…this is an informative introduction to Copland and his music…

George Dorris
Ballet Review, October 2011

we get substantial chunks from some key works, mostly played by Wolff and the hr-Sinfonie orchester in Frankfurt, often filmed in striking locations…we hear a bit of Rodeo, dance is mainly represented by Appalachian Spring, including Graham and company in a scene from it…this film provides a solid place to start. © 2011 Ballet Review

Kirk McElhearn
MusicWeb International, August 2011

It’s difficult to give an overview of the life and works of a composer as important as Aaron Copland in one hour, but this 2001 documentary does a good job of it. While some of Copland’s music is well known—especially to Americans, who will easily recognize the now-clichéd Fanfare for the Common Man, or the happy melodies of Appalachian Spring—much of his music has been forgotten. Throughout his career, he had an importance and influence on American classical music unmatched by anyone other than, perhaps, Leonard Bernstein.

This documentary features a narrative voice-over, shots of old photos, a handful of filmed interviews with the composer, and a number of interviews with Copland’s biographer, Howard Pollock. Together with some obligatory shots of cars driving through New York City, and the oddity of the interviews with Pollock being mostly filmed on the subway, the documentary includes a number of excerpts of Copland’s music performed by the Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra, whose conductor Hugh Wolff gives his opinions on the music.

Unlike many documentaries, the musical excerpts here are long enough to get a feel for the works, even if the viewer is unfamiliar with them. Nevertheless, they are but excerpts, and one hopes that these snippets will lead viewers to seek out some of Copland’s music to hear works in full.

While the biographical information imparted in this hour is limited, the film achieves a good balance between interview, voice-over and music. Those who are unfamiliar with Copland will come away with a better understanding of what he was about. Aficionados of his work will find this superficial, but this is an ideal documentary for a library or music school wishing to offer an overview of Copland’s music to its patrons., July 2011

Children might be more inspired if they could watch Andreas Skipis’ documentary, Aaron Copland: Fanfare for America, for this is the story of a Russian-Jewish New Yorker who overcame a whole set of challenges in life to become one of the best-known and most popular composers of Americana. Various compositions by Copland are heard (in excerpts) during the 60-minute film, which also includes an interview with the composer himself and comments by his biographer, Howard Pollack, and conductor Hugh Wolff. It is fun to see musical celebrities engaging with Copland’s works—Martha Graham dancing Appalachian Spring, Leonard Bernstein conducting A Lincoln Portrait, Benny Goodman playing the Clarinet Concerto (which he commissioned)—but the excerpts are too short to give the full effect of the music or of these particular performances. Nevertheless, the film has many attractive elements, even though (like so many works about Copland) it gives short shrift to his later, more difficult, less accessible works—focusing on pieces that have become iconic but beyond which Copland moved many years before his death in 1990. Intended for adults, Skipis’ film should also appeal to at least some children, who may enjoy the jazzy rhythms of the musical selections and the story of an unlikely purveyor of heartland Americana.

Anne Shelley
Music Media Monthly, July 2011

This disc is a reissue of the 2001 television documentary that provides a whirlwind survey of Aaron Copland’s life, with much of the juicy bits coming from interviews with Copland biographer Howard Pollack. We learn that Copland had a carefree, middleclass childhood in Brooklyn and that he traveled to Paris to study with Nadia Boulanger; he also traveled throughout Europe and was exposed to other composers both personally (Stravinsky) and musically (Mahler). There is some very special footage here, of Bernstein conducting “Lincoln Portrait” and of Copland conducting a performance of his clarinet concerto featuring Benny Goodman. Copland himself is interviewed several times; in one clip, he speaks about being approached by Mr. Durand after performing one of his early piano works. The famed French publisher pitched a low-ball offer to the budding composer, who accepted and signed away all his rights to the work for under $50. Throughout the documentary, interviewees espouse Copland’s temperance and modesty, and likewise the film itself is mellow and undramatic to the point of being disengaging—it has a cinematic presentation whose flow is interrupted by enjoyable but lengthy musical interludes. The narration is in German, and subtitles are provided in several languages. As might be expected from a made-for-TV documentary, the content is aimed at a very general audience, making this film a potentially good fit for a humanities curriculum.

Hank Zauderer
My Classical Notes, June 2011

Aaron Copland (1900–1990) is best known and loved for the well-known compositions he wrote 1936–49, such as “Appalachian Spring”, “Billy the Kid” and “Rodeo”. Less frequently heard is Copland’s Clarinet concerto, which is one of my great favorites.

Copland was one of the first to capture the essence of American life in sound. Together with Gershwin, Charles Ives and Leonard Bernstein, he created music that mirrored the world in which he lived.

This documentary looks at how a first generation New Yorker of Russian-Jewish parents came to write the amazing and accessible music that established a distinctively American sound.

“Fanfare for America” looks at Copland’s life and career with archive film and specially-shot footage as well as music extracts from his compositions. An interview with Aaron Copland is included and his biographer, Howard Pollack, as well as American conductor Hugh Wolff, a leading exponent of his music, both contribute to the program. The film shows a clip of Benny Goodman playing the Clarinet Concerto he commissioned from the composer, as well as footage of Leonard Bernstein conducting the patriotic Lincoln Portrait for speaker and orchestra, and of Martha Graham dancing in “Appalachian Spring”.

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