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Symphonies Nos. 4 & 6

Antheil Audio CD
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
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Product Details

1. McKonkey's Ferry (Washington At Trenton); A Concert Overture
2. Symphony No. 4: I. Moderato - Allegretto
3. Symphony No. 4: II. Allegro
4. Symphony No. 4: III. Scherzo: Presto
5. Symphony No. 4: IV. Allegro non troppo
6. Symphony No. 6: I. Maestoso - Allegro molto; marcato
7. Symphony No. 6: II. Larghetto
8. Symphony No. 6: III. Allegro

Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
4.1 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Forgotten American Master March 31 2001
Format:Audio CD
George Antheil (1900-1959) is forgotten today. If the music on this CD is typical, then that is a real shame. Antheil's two symphonies (excellently recorded by the National Symphony Orchestra of Ukraine under the direction of Theodor Kuchar) are real finds. They actually make a more immediately enjoyable listen than most of Prokofiev's efforts in the form (the superb 1st and 5th symphonies excepted of course). The 6th Symphony is particularly good. Indeed as a composer I find (based on these works anyway) Antheil more interesting and enjoyable than Howard Hanson (and I like Hanson). And he is head and shoulders above more respected composers of the "hyper-complex noisemaker" school - such prolix note spinners as Milton Babbitt, and Elliott Carter. This CD is an excellent value and well worth your time. A good CD of Antheil's piano music (and he was an excellent pianist) is available on Con Legno CD expertly performed by Benedikt Koehlen. The piano music is of a more aggressively "modern" tone than the orchestral music on this CD.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Beat drums, beat! Blow, trumpets, blow! Oct. 3 2000
Format:Audio CD
Naxos' "American Classics" series has been uneven, not in the quality of the performances or in the engineering, but in the choice of repertoire. The symphonies by George Templeton Strong and Meredith Wilson vanish quickly from memory; Piston's violin concerti and Lees' Fourth Symphony, on the other hand, stand out as remarkable works and as valuable additions to the recorded catalogue. Despite some reservations, the disc of symphonic music (two symphonies and an overture) by George Antheil (1900-1959) belongs to the second category. Since everyone tells the story of Antheil's transformation from the "bad-boy" composer of the 1925 "Ballet Méchanique" to the relatively conservative symphonist of the 1940s and 50s, I'll skip it. Suffice it that Antheil recognized that he needed to connect with audience, that the symphony was the public concert-utterance par excellence, and that he could write them fluently. Symphony No. 4 dates from 1942 and is a "war symphony." Maybe more accurately it is a kind of symphonic pep-rally to stoke the morale of American audiences. Mind you, I find nothing wrong with that. (What else was Copland's "Lincoln Portrait" or Harris's Fifth Symphony?) While obviously echoing the musical vocabularies of the Soviet school (Shostakovich and Prokofiev), Antheil's Fourth manages to be a rollicking good, thoroughly march-oriented, blazingly brassy, echt American exercise in cinematographic triumphalism. It sounds for all the world like the classy soundtrack for a vintage Department of Defense film about "Our Boys in North Africa" or "The Allied Landing in Sicily." You can imagine, in your mind's ear, one of those 1940s newsreel voices narrating the action. Read more ›
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Format:Audio CD
It is seldom thought about, but the American tradition of serious music has a well documented repertoire of symphonists; Copland,Mennin,Schuman,Bernstein,Roy Harris, Hanson,Diamond,Corigliano,Harbison, and Antheil.Many of these symphonies were written during the War,(we always had some international conflict), and American was thought of even then as the savior from Fascism, as policeman of the world, and the content of these symphonies for the most part adopted this triumphantism, but it also looks at and commented on the horrors and ambiguities of War, and that perhaps America's role had an air of anxiety,brutality and opaqueness attached to its face. Especially if you are an outsider looking in. These Antheil Symphonies are again great marvelous works but hardly ever played. The Chicago Symphony has yet to do one, and I can't phanthom the reason except the time honored one the reason of politics. These orchestral works are the late Antheil, he died in 1959, after having literally a thunderous start of a career hanging out with the avant garde in Paris during the Twenties with James Joyce, Ezra Pound, Picasso, and Erik Satie, all who attended his piano solo concerts. This popularity came to an end by the time of the Depression, when he retuned to the States as a War correspondent, and writer of a column, settling in Hollywood writing film scores. All these works here are powerful,with the brass proclaiming itself unencumbered by anyone. But then the gentle Antheil also introduces in quick succession of isolated colours of the flute,almost like Yankee Doodle. Read more ›
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4.0 out of 5 stars Powerful but unsubtle compositions March 19 2000
Format:Audio CD
The Naxos release of George Antheil's <Symphony No. 4, Symphony No.6, McKonkey's Ferry> (8.559033) gives a quotation comparing this American's music with that of Shastakovich. Indeed without being told the composer of the 4th Symphony, I might have guessed (at least) at a Russian origin. Like Shastakovich, Antheil tried to show the horrors of war (which he knew very well as a war correspondent) in musical terms; and the results are quite effective. The subtitle of the work is "1942." The cover of the CD shows Delacroix's "Liberty Leading the People," which Antheil says was his inspiration for the 6th Symphony. Finally, "McKonkey's Ferry," which opens the program, is a tone poem celebrating Washington's crossing the Delaware on Christmas Eve.
This is all new stuff to me. While I find it a bit blustery here and there--others might find more subtlety in those passages than I do-- I feel the composer did accomplish what he set out to do. And given the Naxos budget price, you too will probably find this well worth the purchase. The National Symphony Orchestra of the Ukraine is under Theodore Kuchar.
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