Copland: Before the LP

Copland: Before the LP front cover
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Aaron Copland was active as a pianist throughout most of his musical career, giving up piano performance only after 1970, when he concentrated on conducting. He continued to record performances of his own music through much of the LP era, although only as a collaborator in chamber works and his Piano Concerto.

The present CD collects for the first time all of Copland’s pre-LP recordings. While most of them have been issued on LP or CD before, they have never all been available in one place. Further, they are now presented in splendid new transfers by Mark Obert-Thorn, who was able to locate copies of all of the originals including the ultra-scarce New Music Quarterly side. The piano roll of “The Cat and the Mouse” is published in any audio recording for the first time.

Copland said he had never performed any other composer’s piano music in public. But his technique was strong enough to support the powerful performance of his Piano Variations and, later, of his Piano Concerto. This restoration of his earlier piano recordings is a valuable document of a major composer showing how his own music should go. His collaborators in these recordings include two major violinists, Jacques Gordon and Louis Kaufman, and Copland’s long-time friend and collaborator, the composer and pianist Leo Smit.

Royalties on this CD are being paid to Copland House, an award-winning creative center for American music based at Aaron Copland’s National Historic Landmark house near New York City (

Copland Before the LP reviewed at Music Web International

Click here to listen to an interview with Aaron Copland, conducted by Parnassus Records’ Leslie Gerber


The Early Recordings C 1928 – 1949		76:29
1	Le chat et la souris (Scherzo humoristique) (1920)	(3:28)
	Recorded 1928   Ampico B Reproducing Piano Roll #68153
2	Piano Variations (1930)			(10:58)
	Recorded April 2, 1935 in New York City		
	Columbia 68320/21-D in album X-48	(XCO 17111-2, 17112-1 & 17113-1)
3	Vitebsk (1929)			(11:36)
	Ivor Karman (violin); David Freed (cello)  Recorded April 5, 1935 in New York City
	Columbia 68741/42-D in album X-68	(XCO 17117-2, 17118-1 & 17119-1)
Two Pieces for Violin and Piano (1926)		
4	No. 1: Nocturne			(4:36)
5	No. 2: Ukulele Serenade			(3:45)
	Jacques Gordon (violin)	Recorded April 22, 1935 in New York City
	Columbia 68321-D & 68742-D (XCO 17326-1 & 17325-1)
6	Vocalise (1928)			(4:09)
	Ethel Luening (soprano)	Recorded 1935 in New York City
	New Music Quarterly Recordings Vol. 3, No. 1 (R-574)	
7	Danzón Cubano (1942)			(6:58)
	Leo Smit (piano)   Recorded 1947 in New York City	Concert Hall AL (CHS 136/7)
Sonata for Violin and Piano (1943)		(18:21)
8	I Andante semplice			
9	II	Lento		(4:24)
10	III	Allegretto giusto		(6:41)
	Louis Kaufman (violin)	Recorded 1947 in New York City	
	Concert Hall album C-10 (CHS 356/60)	
Two Pieces for Violin and Piano (1926)	
11	No. 1: Nocturne		(4:31)
	Louis Kaufman (violin)	Recorded 1947 in New York City	
	Concert Hall album C-10 (CHS 361)	
Four Piano Blues (1948)		(8:24)
12	No. 1: Freely Poetic (for Leo Smit)	(2:13)
13	No. 2: Soft and Languid (for Andor Foldes)	(2:20)
14	No. 3: Muted and Drugged (for William Kapell)	(2:36)
15	No. 4: With Bounce (for John Kirkpatrick)	(1:15)
	Recorded May 23, 1949 in London   Decca K 2372 (AR 13657-1 & 13658-1)	

Aaron Copland (piano) (in all items)

Producer & Audio Restoration Engineer: Mark Obert-Thorn; Executive Producer: Leslie Gerber

Special thanks to Peter Bay, Jim Cartwright’s Immortal Performances, Inc., Michael Gartz, Donald Manildi, Karl F. Miller and the International Piano Archives at the University of Maryland (IPAM) for providing source material.

Track 1: (P) 2016 Pierian Recording Society
Transfer by Kenneth K. Caswell From the Collection of Kenneth K. Caswell
Transfer done on a 5’8” 1929 Chickering Ampico “B” Grand

PACD 96057

Parnassus CDs are distributed in the U.S. by Alliance and elsewhere by alto distribution and associated distributors.