They Didn't Ask Me (dr_phil_physics) wrote,
They Didn't Ask Me
dr_phil_physics

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That Perfect Moment

I suppose everybody has That Story. Some magical moment which, at least for a while, changed their life.

For me it happened in high school. Greensboro NC. Some middle of the weekday. My mother was having a meeting that night, probably her Preceptor Chapter of the Beta Sigma Phi sorority. So I had to clear out of the front of the house. My father probably was outside in his shop. I was in my room. Now, I didn't have a stereo or even much of a radio in my room. But because I was back in my room, I had borrowed the kitchen radio and had it tuned to probably the Wake Forest classical station.

And they started playing something which simply blew me away. I had been typing on the old Royal portable typewriter with the chemical keyboard. And at some point I just stopped and listened. For forty minutes.

Aaron Copland's Third Symphony, Leonard Bernstein conducting.

I wrote down the title and I'm not sure when I got the album, but I think it was the Fall and so I put in the request for Christmas. My mother was always big on getting lists of things we wanted and it was pretty rare in those days to find something that wasn't in the Nikon catalog. Or maybe my birthday. Either way, when I got it I played it a lot. I believe this was my senior year in high school. As I prepared to go to Northwestern, I didn't have the money for a stereo -- it had all gone into Nikon equipment -- but I did buy a $29 Panasonic portable cassette tape recorder and some quality Memorex tapes and put it in front of our stereo at home and recorded several favorite albums. Including the Third Symphony.

Some day I will track down that tape. Our dachshund Nikki came by to check out what I was doing on the floor, and you can hear her tags jangling. It's the only known sound recording I have of her.

Later I made a better tape when I did get a stereo. And in the CD era, I ended up getting two versions -- a London Symphony recording with Copland conducting, but it just wasn't the same, and a St. Louis Symphony recording, which was better. But still not Bernstein. I since had read that Bernstein did Copland better than anyone, including Copland. And I have to agree.

The other day I decided I should either rip my St. Louis CD or see if I could find the Bernstein recording on Amazon. It was a mixed bag of things, but then I realized I'd searched it as "Aaron Copland's Third Symphony" and not "Copland Symphony no. 3". And that's when I found it -- not the same album I had from high school, but the same recording.

Copland: Symphony No. 3 - Symphony for Organ & Orchestra.

Product Description (Amazon.com)
Leonard Bernstein's performance of Copland's Third Symphony has had to wait a long time before finally appearing on CD. Part of the delay no doubt stemmed from the fact that DG released a second, later recording with the same orchestra, in digital sound. Comparing the two versions, both of which are very good, one prefers this first performance. Not only does the music move a bit more quickly, with sharper rhythms and a stronger sense of the dance (never far from Copland's musical thoughts), but the sonics are more naturally pleasing. The coupling is a terrific performance of the early Organ Symphony, which the composer wrote for his teacher, Nadia Boulanger. --David Hurwitz
Here's the crazy part.

The MP3 album in $9.99. The CD album is $7.29. But if you buy the CD you can get an AutoRip MP3 of the album, for download immediately when you order. Why buy the MP3? (Other than possibly being not quite as good an MP3 recording, but who knows?) On top of that, if I ordered Slow Boat Free Prime Shipping, I would get a $5.99 credit for Amazon market basket service or something like that. Don't know if I can use it, but I'm still saving big bucks over the MP3 pricing and I can wait on the CD itself, because I've got the AutoRip MP3.

As a bonus, there's also Copland's First Symphony, written twenty years earlier in 1926 and the organ part is played by E. Power Biggs himself -- I am a huge fan of his.

This is WIN multiplied.

I used to joke that the Third Symphony should be titled Aaron Copland's Greatest Hits, and if you know any of the Copland music, you'll recognize everything from Rodeo to Fanfare For The Common Man. At Northwestern, I was afraid that the music majors and aficionados I knew would make fun of this as overblown schmaltz, but in general they respected the work. They just didn't agree with me that it was The Finest Symphony Ever -- and I can respect that. Like everything else artistic, it's going to be a matter of taste.

They only had four copies this evening, and only two an hour or so ago. So someone else bought it today. (grin) But if you've never heard this, and you're into classical music, I highly recommend this recording. Not sure you even want to spend $7.29 if you have Amazon Prime? The Wikipedia article linked up at the top has links to a video of the whole symphony.

UPDATE 4/2/2015 -- A padded envelope arrived today from Amazon. Hmm... what had I ordered that was thin? Oh, it's the CD I got free for buying the MP3. (grin)

Dr. Phil
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Crossposted on LiveJournal
Tags: classical, mp3, music
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