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Symphonies Nos. 4 & 6

4.1 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Composer: Antheil
  • Audio CD (April 1 2000)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Nam
  • ASIN: B00004NK2J
  • Other Editions: Audio CD
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #208,605 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
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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
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Top Customer Reviews

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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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
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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Format: Audio CD
George Antheil made a name for himself as an "enfant terrible" in Paris in the 1920s with experimental works that shocked audiences. Critical opinion of his oeuvre, however, has been decidedly mixed.
Naxos' release of pieces written in the 1940s gives us an idea of how he seasoned as he got older and tried to develop an "American" sound. The results remain mixed but there is a lot of interesting music here.
Prefacing the notes to this release is a quote from a critic commenting that Antheil might be considered the "American Shostakovich." That description is certainly accurate for the Sixth Symphony despite the inclusion of the "Battle Hymn of the Republic" in the first movement. There is also a large dollop of Prokofieff in the use of the orchestra and the harmony. Nevertheless, this is an engaging symphony with much memorable melodic content.
The Fourth Symphony, oddly enough, doesn't sound as much like Shostakovich but that isn't really a strength. This piece is a little faceless, with a lot of tunes that seem to turn the wrong direction. Despite being a War Symphony, this isn't anywhere near as powerful as the Russian masters war essays. Still, it's worth a listen.
The overture is one of those ostinato-driven, martial affairs that covers a lack of melodic interest with brash sounds. When I pick up this disc, I'm likely to program it out.
Performances are pretty good, although the Ukraine orchestra isn't a world class ensemble. (Maybe their familiarity with Shostakovich helped!) The sound is good as well.
In sum, none of the pieces here are masterworks and none have a truly "American" sound (compared to Copland, Harris etc.). Still, I'd be happy to hear the 6th in a concert hall once in awhile.
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