Copland: Symphony No. 3 & Three Latin American Sketches / Slatkin, Detroit Symphony

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Premiered in 1946, a year after the end of World War II, Copland’s iconic Third Symphony was described by the composer as ‘a wartime piece- or, more accurately, an end-of-war piece- intended to reflect the euphoric spirit of the country at the time.’ The fourth movement, heard on this recording in its original uncut form, opens by quoting one of his most well-known pieces, Fanfare for the Common Man. Copland described the Three Latin American Sketches ‘as being just what the title says. The tunes, the rhythms and the temperament of the pieces are folksy, while the orchestration is bright and snappy and the music sizzles along.’ The Detroit Symphony Orchestra is known for trailblazing performances, visionary conductors, collaborations with the world’s foremost musical artists, and an ardent commitment to Detroit. As a community-supported orchestra, the continued success and growth of the institution is driven by generous giving by individuals and institutions at all levels. Esteemed conductor Leonard Slatkin became the DSO’s twelfth Music Director, endowed by the Kresge Foundation, in 2008. With growing attendance and unwavering philanthropic support from the Detroit community, the DSO’s performances include Classical, Pops, Jazz, Young People’s, and Neighborhood concerts, and collaborations with high-profile artists from Steven Spielberg to Kid Rock.


Leonard Slatkin can always be counted on to offer a new take on familiar classics. He recorded an excellent Copland Third for RCA back in his St. Louis days, and this performance is almost identical in terms of tempo and expression—but not quite. Copland’s publishers, Boosey and Hawkes, in their infinite wisdom and desire to make a buck or two, have republished the composer’s Third Symphony with its original ending. If you have an older score, you might still find it there. Later printings removed the bits that Copland cut at Leonard Bernstein’s suggestion.

Now we can all hear definitively that those cuts were a good idea. The finale is already one of the most earsplitting essays in populist pomposity in the entire symphonic literature. Don’t get me wrong: it’s a blast as it stands and I wouldn’t change a note. The original, in comparison, sounds gratuitously, unconvincingly prolonged (sound clip), and before we start blathering about the revision not representing Copland’s intentions, let’s note that both of the composer’s own recordings of the symphony—made decades apart—observe the cuts (there are two, actually, one very tiny).

That said, this is in every respect a terrific performance, excitingly played and conducted, powerfully recorded, and with a nice bonus in the form of the Three Latin American Sketches. As a collector, I am happy to have the opportunity to hear Copland’s first thoughts, but one fine recording of them is enough.

-- (David Hurwitz)

Product Description:

  • Release Date: June 09, 2017

  • Catalog Number: 8559844

  • UPC: 636943984420

  • Label: Naxos

  • Period: 20th Century

  • Composer: Aaron Copland

  • Conductor: Leonard Slatkin

  • Orchestra/Ensemble: Detroit Symphony Orchestra


  1. Symphony No. 3

    Composer: Aaron Copland

    Ensemble: Detroit Symphony Orchestra

    Conductor: Leonard Slatkin

  2. Three Latin American Sketches

    Composer: Aaron Copland

    Ensemble: Detroit Symphony Orchestra

    Conductor: Leonard Slatkin