Aaron Copland's finest works
When Aaron Copland died on Dec. 2 (at 90, of complications following a series of strokes), the treasure he bequeathed, above all, was the possibility that an American classical composer could earn worldwide respect. The rest of the legacy is easily sampled; splendid recordings exist, under the composer's own skilled direction and that of Leonard Bernstein who, from a musical standpoint at least, could have passed for Copland's twin:
''Billy the Kid,'' ''Rodeo,'' and ''Appalachian Spring'' Copland, with the London Symphony Orchestra. The popular masterworks, conducted with flair and almost audible pride.
Sextet, Piano Quartet, Piano Variations Gilbert Kalish, pianist, with the Boston Symphony Chamber Players. Strong, gritty works that handsomely represent Copland's inward style.
Symphony No. 3, ''Quiet City'' Bernstein and the New York Philharmonic. Powerful, passionate, deeply colorful music that will endure as long as Americans take pride in their artistic heritage.