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ANTHEIL: Symphonies Nos. 4 and 6 / McKonkey's Ferry

4.1 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews

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Audio CD, July 28, 2009
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Editorial Reviews

ANTHEIL: Symphonies Nos. 4 and 6 / McKonkey's Ferry by Theodore Kuchar

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5:27
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6
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8:57
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Product Details

  • Orchestra: National Symphony Orchestra of Ukraine
  • Conductor: Theodore Kuchar
  • Composer: George Antheil
  • Audio CD (July 28, 2009)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Naxos
  • Run Time: 68 minutes
  • ASIN: B00004NK2J
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #132,946 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By scarecrow VINE VOICE on May 9, 2000
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
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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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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Years ago I learned that Antheil was the `bad boy of (American) music', so I wondered how his music should sound. Well, if this is a bad boy, he definitely has become more boy than bad. For my ears this are well-crafted symphonies with sometimes-piquant harmonies and a jazz-rhythm here and there.
But they gave me great pleasure in these very good performances. For me it's unbelievable that Naxos can give us such great series like these American Classics, almost for nothing. I hope they will record one or two of Antheil's ballets too. And in the meantime CPO is doing a great job by recording all of Antheil's symphonies in exemplary performances.
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The American infant terrible, George Antheil, is most famous for his outlandish mechanically-driven composition Ballet Mecanique. His serious concert music have not received much acclaim in the past, but now with Naxos' American Classics series, they may come into their own. Featured on the disk are his 4th and 6th Symphonies and his concert overture, McKonkey's Ferry.

Depicting George Washington's famous image as he crosses the Delaware River on Christmas night, 1776, Antheil composed the frigid McKonkey's Ferry, an American-based concert overture. The work is an aggressive, if not a bit rough-edged piece, that relies on a regularly falling melody and perpetual motion. In a minor mode throughout, Antheil shows the struggle of Washington's crossing with great imagination and musical imagery. A classic of Antheil's repertory.

His Symphony No. 4, subtitled 1942, is also a somewhat gloomy work, based around the inevitable outbreak of World War II. A brusque statement by unison brass and eventually piano, open the first movement; eventually the opening gives way to an expansive march, relying on bassoons, piccolos, and fanfares. Antheil combines the two ideas into a sort of mocking march to build to a dissonant climax; all dissolves into a quiet unrest. The second movement begins with a familiar sounding melody, almost Russian in nature, but one which is definitely tragic, almost march-like as well. A romantic interlude dispels the minor march for a while, with great leaps of yearning melodies, before the disquiet of the opening melody from the first movement returns. A dissonant and angry scherzo takes up the third movement. After a section of music put into fugue, a grotesque, dance-like feel evolves into an odd-fitting slow march to end the movement.
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