The Aaron Copland musical exhilaration known as "Appalachian Spring" is a complex theme woven through 30 minutes of thematic changes. When performed well, the score invokes images of calm, spiritual golden hues in later contradiction with the epic reds, greens, and earth tones of a frontier as yet not fully explored.
The Sarasota Orchestra's performance last night took us from those soft amber notes all the way to the excitement of the richer parts of its lyrical palette.
If any audiophile spouts off about the ease and reliability of Copland's score dedicated (Along with "Rodeo") to the concept of America, spank them with a bassoon. It is a difficult number and one that requires both an unobtrusive touch and a passionate explosiveness. Jeffrey Kahane's tightly choreographed conducting of his dozen musicians achieved just that.
The piece opens with the sweet, airy strains of the the strings and flute, transporting us to the frontier of a new life, just past the Eastern Seaboard of the United States. By the time Kahane guided the orchestra through the final notes, the audience traveled the width of the new continent and founded the heartland.
This is a credit to both Copland for the score, and to Kahane and the orchestra for the perfect execution and interpretation of it.
There are recordings of "Appalachian Spring." Studio versions which come close to the creative moments created by the Sarasota Orchestra. But none of them will duplicate the perfect interlude in time achieved by Kahane and his musicians.
As it should be.