The Brooklyn-born Aaron Copland imagined America's hinterlands so vividly that his music seeped into the territory: It's hard to drive through the West without hearing a jaunty strain of Copland in your mind. Like a master draftsman sketching a scene in a few deft strokes, Copland captured the pioneer fantasy in short, spare but immensely rich sketches.
What's often forgotten about Copland is that his nostalgia for a pre-industrial America was combined with a mass-media sensibility. He wrote his Depression opera "The Tender Land" specifically for television (though when the composer fell afoul of Senator Joseph McCarthy, NBC canceled plans to air it) and he composed "The Red Pony" suite as a soundtrack for the movie with Robert Mitchum and Myrna Loy.
The Phoenix Symphony, under James Sedares, brings plenty of crisp detail to Copland's jaunty rhythms and bow-legged melodies.