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Capital of the World / Undertow / The Combat

Antheil , Schuman , Banfield , Levine Audio CD
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Audio CD (August 19, 1997)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Angel Records
  • ASIN: B000002SAT
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #519,202 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. Capital Of The World - Abridged: The Street, Paco Into Shop; Imaginary Bullfight; Owner; Enrique; The Seamstresses
2. The Pompous Bullfighter; Tubercular Bullfighter; The Bullfighter Assistants; Cowardly Bullfighter; The Cafe Crowd; The Bullfighter Thinks Back; Paco Helps T.B. Bullfighter; Seamstress And Picador ( Furruca); Prostitutes With Paco - Solo Dance - Roy Fitzell
3. Paco Back In Shop; Paco Practices Bullfighting; The Knives Fight & Paco's Death
4. UNDERTOW: Opening - The Transgressor Is Born
5. UNDERTOW: The Transgressor Approaches Manhood
6. UNDERTOW: A Group Of Hoodlums Rush Past
7. UNDERTOW: Entrance Of Volupia
8. UNDERTOW: Polyhymnia Urges Salvation
9. UNDERTOW: Entrance Of Ate - Flirting With The Transgressor
10. UNDERTOW: Drunken Women Mock The Bridal Couple
11. UNDERTOW: Ate Returns With The Hoodlums
12. UNDERTOW: The Drunken Women Interrupt - Ate Escapes
13. UNDERTOW: The Transgressor & Medusa - Love And Death
14. UNDERTOW: Alone, The Transgressor Writhes In Fear
15. UNDERTOW: Finale - The Transgressor Atones For His Fatal Act
16. The Combat: Opening - Entrance Of Clorinda
17. The Combat: Tancred's Dance - Prince Of The Christian Warriors
18. The Combat: Clorinda And Two Christian Warriors Engage In Combat
19. The Combat: Clorinda Plea For Peace
20. The Combat: Return Of Tancred
See all 24 tracks on this disc

Editorial Reviews

These works have to rank as three of the most unjustly neglected dance-theater pieces of the American classical repertoire of this century. The main work here, Capital of the World (1953) by George Antheil is a curiously understated work (for Bad Boy Antheil), but it retains a kind of Old World nostalgia. (It's based on the Hemingway story of the same name.) William Schuman's Undertow (1945) is an eerie ballet in a classical setting and is about one man's hatred for women and his downfall. All the works on this disc, including the Banfield, resonate with the memory of WWII. In mono, but worth it. --Paul Cook

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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dazzling Ballet Music May 3, 2005
Unless you are a balletomane - and no, I'm not one either - the three works on this CD will be unfamiliar. Now out of print, this well-transferred mono EMI disc (just about identical to my old Capitol LP) is worth a search in the used bins at your local CD store. Judging from the $50 "1 used & new" asking price here, it has already become a collector's item. I agree with most of Paul Cook's Amazon editorial review, but these ballet scores rank a little differently in my own affections.

"Capital of the World" by George Antheil (1900-1958) is based on a Hemingway story about a young Spanish boy who goes to Madrid with dreams of becoming a famous bullfighter. Virgil Thomson called this work "the most original, striking and powerful American ballet score with which I am acquainted." As with all the works on this CD, Joseph Levine delivers a top-notch reading (slightly abridged), clearly superior to the only recorded competition on a Centaur CD. I think this is one of Antheil's best compositions: it doesn't have the excessive reliance on Prokofiev/Shostakovich imitation that afflicts many of his symphonies.

"Undertow" by William Schuman (1910-1992, probably America's finest symphonist) was described as unfolding "like the confession of a neurotic to a psychiatrist. Its tortured hero, frustrated by his infantile love for his mother, writhes eerily through the ballet, doomed to hate the women who most attract him." My advice: ignore the pretentious plot and just listen to the music. I think it is has finer craftsmanship than the Antheil, and while sometimes dissonant it's always tonal: some of Schuman's finest music.

But my genunine affection for this CD and its LP antecedent lies in "The Combat" by Raffaello de Banfield (born 1927 in England).
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Other than giving detailed synopses of the three ballets featured here, the uncredited liner notes, presumably reproduced from the original two LPs (Antheil and Banfield came together, Schuman was paired with Copland's Billy the Kid, now on Copland: Billy the Kid (Complete Ballet), etc.), are totally un-informative about the composers, compositions and performances. The Dance Company called, in the 1940s and early 1950s , the "Ballet Theatre" started off in 1937 as the "Mordkin Ballet" and was renamed in 1956 the "American Ballet Theatre" - which is familiar territory to people even remotely interested in ballet, since its artistic director from 1980 to 1989 was Mihail Baryshnikov. From 1950 to 1958 the Ballet Theatre orchestra was conducted by Joseph Levine (1911-1994), a former student of Joseph Hofmann (piano) and of Fritz Reiner and Arthur Rodzinsky (conducting) at the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia. In the 1950s he made a number of recordings of ballet music with the Ballet Theatre Orchestra for Capitol, some of which have been reissued in this EMI Fds series (the one mentioned above, and I've also reviewed Offenbach/Dorati: Suites from Bluebeard and Helen of Troy; Meyerbeer: Les Patineurs). These three were recorded in 1953 and 1954, in mono sound lacking spaciousness.

George Antheil and William Schuman of course need no introduction, but their respective ballet might. Antheil's Capital of the World is a late composition (1953) of the erstwhile bad boy turned conservative upon his return to America in the early 1930s.
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