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Anthiel: Symphonies 1 & 6

G. Antheil Audio CD
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)

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Anthiel: Symphonies 1 & 6 + Symphony 4 & 5 + Symphony 3: American
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Product Details

  • Composer: G. Antheil
  • Audio CD (May 16, 2000)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Cpo Records
  • ASIN: B00004SYHF
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #53,323 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. Symphony No. 1 - Zingareska: Innocente
2. Symphony No. 1 - Zingareska: Vivo, all zingaresco, poi 'ragtime'
3. Symphony No. 1 - Zingareska: Doloroso Elevato
4. Symphony No. 1 - Zingareska: Ragtime
5. Symphony No. 6 - After Delacroix: Allegro molto marcato
6. Symphony No. 6 - After Delacroix: Larghetto
7. Symphony No. 6 - After Delacroix: Allegro
8. Archipelago: Rhumba

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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bad Boy just had Bad Rep August 22, 2000
The self-styled "bad boy of music", George Antheil, turns out to have had the famous attribute of the bad girl- namely, when he was good, he was very VERY good. At least, that's my feeling after listening to the first in the Hugh Wolff/cpo series of his complete symphonies. It's an eye (or ear-) opener, especially after the Ensemble Modern (RCA) recording of the Ballet Mechanique and other bits and pieces. The Symphonies 1 & 6 show Antheil to have been a deft hand with an orchestra and, while not giving himself over completely to "quirkiness", retains enough of that boisterous quality to bring the well-worn symphonic form to life, especially in the 1st. I look forward to the rest of the series. Wolff and his Frankfurt Orchestra play superbly and reveal the detail of Antheil's inspiration with greater clarity (in No.6) than Kuchar on a new Naxos release, although the Naxos is still a good buy. Who said everything worth hearing had already been recorded? This issue (like so much else in the cpo catalogue) proves them wrong.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
In his (in)famous autobiography "Bad Boy of Music", written in 1945, George Antheil has a lot to say about his first Symphony. No wonder: a "first" will always have a special significance to its author, and it was also the first big symphonic piece of Antheil to get a performance - and by a major symphony orchestra to boot. Completed in the early months of 1922, prior to Antheil's departure to Europe (rather than in 1923 as indicated on the back cover), under the tutelage of his composition teacher Ernest Bloch, it was programmed by no less than Stokowski for his new Philadelphia season, but ultimately was premiered by the Berlin Philharmonic (not bad either!) under the German conductor Rudolph Schulz-Dornburg (and not "Schultz von Dornberg", as Antheil approximately reminisces in 1945). Antheil writes endearing pages (Chap. 6) about how it feels for a young composer to hear HIS own orchestral composition rehearsed and performed for the first time: "even though I live to be a thousand years old I ill never forget the first morning's rehearsal of my First symphony!" I was, then, curious to hear it and see if I would recognize the passage he had orchestrated "one day after canoeing on the Delaware River", the part where the odor of blooming honeysuckled got entwined into the orchestration, the parts which he now felt, on hearing the music, sounded too much like Bloch.

Indeed, Bloch and "Schelomo" are very much the driving influence in the first movement, integral with the somber, brooding cello melody (0:12 and again 0:49). The idiom is a late-Romanticism verging on impressionism, with sensuous and sinuous melodies and lush orchestration; composers like Loeffler, D'Indy, Ibert ("Ports of Call"), Suk ("Azraël") also come to mind.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Two Must Hear Symphonies November 20, 2000
George Anthiel could be called the fourth American composer. During his life, he was the fourth most hear composer, after Gershwin, Copland and Barber. The First and Sixth are exgaging works of this talented man. The First is original on concept and orchestration. Anthiel keeps you on the edge of your seat with the unpredicatable turns his music takes. One has no trouble believing it was great fun to write this work. The Sixth reminded me of Shostakovich and Prokofiev. It is a symphony inspired by Delacroix rather than meant to depict his paintings.
Anthiel set out to become the bad boy of music, and he succeeded. However, it is the musician and not the bad bod that comes out in these two symphonies. Since this is Anthiel's centenary (July 8) we should become acquainted with his music for it is rich and rewarding, and as entertaining as his life is to read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Splendid music in excellent performances June 2, 2012
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George Antheil's one-hit wonder was the Ballet Mécanique. Although Antheil was a first-rate composer, it should be mentioned that most of his other works - the symphonies in particular - will sound somewhat conservative by comparison, at least in terms of means of expression and harmonic language. They are nevertheless chockful of fascinating ideas, imaginative developments, energy, color and spirit. Stylistically both symphonies here appear to be somewhat indebted to Russian contemporaries - the first symphony has touches of Petrouchka, and the sixth sounds very much indebted to Prokofiev, yet both of Antheil's works are unmistakably American.

The first symphony was written in 1922, and was apparently a success with musicians and audience but not critics. It would certainly have sounded original at the time; mischievously diverting, whirling, dancing and glittering - which suggests that the subtitle may be understood in some kind of generic way, since there is little actually gypsyesque about the music. Formally, the music employs various blocks that are piled together and juxtaposed rather than traditional symphonic development, but Antheil avoids making the music sound episodic. The opening movement is somewhat impressionistic and (evocatively) picturesque; the second is marked ragtime (hard to discern) and is wonderfully engaging; the third is poignant and heart-on-sleeve - but deliberately over the top, however, and it exudes tongue-in-cheek irony. The Ragtime fourth movement (again, hard to hear much ragtime here) is buoyant and jolly. Overall it may be an exaggeration to call it a masterpiece, but Antheil's first symphony is a very compelling, deeply enjoyable work well worth hearing.
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