Seems like I've been waiting my whole life for this recording. I came of age with the classic Bernstein recording on Columbia from a half century ago and have never found a version the equal of that. I saw Slatkin conduct this long-lost version with the LA Philharmonic a decade ago and have been itching to get my hands on this. Why did it take so long!?
First of all; the recording is simply superb, a wonderful sense of presence and depth reveals lots of individual parts I've never heard before. The massed brass and horns simply shine through. Is it the equal of that Bernstein
Copland: Symphony No. 3 - Symphony for Organ & Orchestra
recording ? Not quite. While Leonard Slatkin handles this music with the reverence it deserves his tempi sometimes seem a bit deliberate and inflexible. That old Bernstein recording had a muscular propulsive quality that I've never heard equaled since, certainly not in Bernstein's own late DG recording. This music is the embodiment of the American empire at its absolute peak of greatness and optimism. Perhaps it takes a young conductor to fully capture those qualities. Maybe we'll have to wait for Dudamel or one of the younger generation to tackle it.
For now though, we finally have a recording of the symphony as Copland originally envisioned it, with its grandiose finale intact. Shame on Bernstein for persuading him to change even a note!