From the recording Aaron Copland, Quiet City (excerpt from the CD)
It’s April 1939, and Aaron Copland brings his baton down as the curtain rises for the Group Theatre in New York City. It’s the dress rehearsal of Quiet City, an Irwin Shaw (1913-1984) play that never made it to opening night. “My career in the theatre has been a flop,” lamented Copland. Copland’s incidental music for that play languished in obscurity. He used some of the music in a concert version of Quiet City for trumpet, English horn, and string orchestra and some in his film score Our Town. But the remainder of the score – along with a number of wonderful themes and motifs – has not been heard until now, over 70 years later. This world premiere recording resurrects the unpublished score of Copland’s incidental music for Quiet City, in a new adaptation by composer, arranger and saxophonist Christopher Brellochs. During his doctoral studies Brellochs obtained a copy of the unpublished manuscript to Quiet City from saxophonist and historian Paul Cohen. The score was handwritten by Copland, included cues and actor’s lines, and called for a chamber ensemble of trumpet, saxophone (doubling on clarinet), clarinet (doubling on bass clarinet), and piano. Here was never before heard music ofthe highest quality, by an iconic American composer. Brellochs immediately began to work on ideas to give this music a new life, crafting a concert version that preserved the original instrumentation and included all the original music. No new material was written. The music was reorganized for concert purposes and a few orchestration changes were made to achieve a balanced chamber quality (this included moving some melodiesfrom the trumpet, and eliminating the doubling in the saxophone). Paul Cohen provided invaluable advice and feedback throughout the crafting of this new chamber version. The Aaron Copland Estate and Boosey and Hawkes, Copland’s publisher, embraced Brellochs’ newly reconstructed adaption of unknown Copland which will be published in 2011. In the catalogue, “Quiet City” sits alongside other concert versions of Copland’s works for the stage including “Appalachian Spring”, “Rodeo”, and “Billy the Kid”. The exclusive right and opportunity to make a world premiere recording led to a search for other unrecorded works by American composers. The results of that search include the whirlwind composition “Sound Moves Blues” by Robert Aldridge, the charming “Suite for Trumpet, Alto Saxophone, and Piano” by Seymour Barab and the invitation to guest artist Paul Cohen to contribute recordings of works by Leo Ornstein, Walter Hartley and Lawson Lunde. Every work on the CD Quiet City features world premiere recordings of prominent American composers.