Dance Panels, is probably the least familiar of the works on this CD to a general audience. It was written in 1959 at the suggestion of Jerome Robbins and is scored for six woodwinds, five brass, two percussion and strings. It was first performed in Munich in 1963. Copland wrote that “it is more abstract, and it is lyrical and slower in tempo than most of my other ballet music. It does not tell a story or paint a picture of American life.”
Copland was originally attracted by Emily Dickinson’s poem The Chariot, which contains the famous line “Because I could not stop for death, he kindly stopped for me.” The original cycle, was written between 1948 and 1950; in the late 1960s, Copland orchestrated eight of the songs for the version performed here.
The Short Symphony of 1933 is unquestionably a major work; it may stand as one of Copland’s most assertive and radical expressions of his own distinctive modernism. It is now usually heard in Copland’s own 1937 rearrangement of the music for sextet. Copland was always proud of the original work and referred to it as one of his ‘neglected children’. “If I expended a great deal of time and effort on the Short Symphony, it was because I was determined to write as perfected a piece as I possibly could.”
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