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BBC Philharmonic Orchestra|Antheil: Orchestral Works, Vol. 1

Antheil: Orchestral Works, Vol. 1

BBC Philharmonic Orchestra, John Storgårds

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The BBC Philharmonic has launched a highly interesting new series dedicated to George Antheil’s symphonic works, the totally underrated music of a composer who began his career with a reputation as an enfant terrible during his formative years in Europe, where he composed a succession of shockingly avant-garde works, including Ballet mécanique in 1925. In this and his other early modernist pieces, the self-styled “Bad Boy of Music” was heavily influenced by the rhythmic dynamism and crushing dissonances of Stravinsky’s early ballets, but his stylistic preoccupations would change markedly after his return to the USA in 1933. He moved towards a fundamentally tonal and melody-based style, surprising those who knew his earlier experimental music by now joining the growing ranks of US symphonists working in tuneful neo-classical and neo-romantic idioms. Antheil considered his Symphony No. 4, begun in 1942, to be a meditation on several aspects of the ongoing war: the massacre in Lidice for the second movement, while the third, a Scherzo, was “a brutal joke, the joke of war”. The Allies’ eventual triumph was adumbrated in the symphony’s dynamic finale. The work was a tremendous success with both critics and concert-goers, and Time magazine felt that the premiere was an “almost unprecedented” phenomenon: a new American symphony which “failed to bore its audience”. The Time reviewer, however, suggested strong influence of Shostakovich; particularly obvious were the apparent nods towards the Russian composer’s bombastic “Leningrad” Symphony (No. 7), first heard in the United States in July 1942. Antheil resented this implication, however, writing in his autobiography that the passage in the middle of his first movement which had most frequently been attributed to his fondness for Shostakovich had in fact been recycled note-for-note from his own opera Transatlantic published as early as 1928 (the reader can readily check that here, track 20). As Antheil was quick to point out, this music therefore had originated during a time just somewhat before Shostakovich had written even one symphony. In 1947, Antheil put the score of a new but unfinished Fifth symphony aside (the work would become the unnumbered tragic Symphony) and devoted himself instead to a completely different Symphony No. 5; this new work would have a far more celebratory nature, as its sobriquet, “Joyous”, unashamedly indicated. Antheil regarded the symphony as marking his final break from what he called “the now passé” musical modernism of the early twentieth century. In his review of the Carnegie Hall performance, music critic Virgil Thomson declared Symphony No. 5 to be Antheil’s best work to date. The album begins with the short Over the Plains (1945, here a world premiere recording), recalling the emotions that he had experienced when travelling through Texas ten years before, on which occasion he knew that one day he would write a piece celebrating not only the optimistic, pioneering spirit that the view had inspired but also the cheerfulness of the local inhabitants. © SM/Qobuz

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Antheil: Orchestral Works, Vol. 1

BBC Philharmonic Orchestra

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Over the Plains (George Antheil)

1
Over the Plains
00:07:43

BBC Philharmonic Orchestra, Orchestra, MainArtist - John Storgårds, Conductor - George Antheil, Composer

(C) 2017 Chandos (P) 2017 Chandos

Symphony No. 4 "1942" (George Antheil)

2
I. Moderato - Allegretto
00:10:59

BBC Philharmonic Orchestra, Orchestra, MainArtist - John Storgårds, Conductor - George Antheil, Composer

(C) 2017 Chandos (P) 2017 Chandos

3
II. Allegro
00:09:33

BBC Philharmonic Orchestra, Orchestra, MainArtist - John Storgårds, Conductor - George Antheil, Composer

(C) 2017 Chandos (P) 2017 Chandos

4
III. Scherzo: Presto
00:05:24

BBC Philharmonic Orchestra, Orchestra, MainArtist - John Storgårds, Conductor - George Antheil, Composer

(C) 2017 Chandos (P) 2017 Chandos

5
IV. Allegro non troppo
00:08:01

BBC Philharmonic Orchestra, Orchestra, MainArtist - John Storgårds, Conductor - George Antheil, Composer

(C) 2017 Chandos (P) 2017 Chandos

Symphony No. 5 "Joyous" (George Antheil)

6
I. Allegro
00:09:10

BBC Philharmonic Orchestra, Orchestra, MainArtist - John Storgårds, Conductor - George Antheil, Composer

(C) 2017 Chandos (P) 2017 Chandos

7
II. Adagio molto
00:08:00

BBC Philharmonic Orchestra, Orchestra, MainArtist - John Storgårds, Conductor - George Antheil, Composer

(C) 2017 Chandos (P) 2017 Chandos

8
III. Allegretto maestoso - Allegro giocoso
00:06:54

BBC Philharmonic Orchestra, Orchestra, MainArtist - John Storgårds, Conductor - George Antheil, Composer

(C) 2017 Chandos (P) 2017 Chandos

Album Description

The BBC Philharmonic has launched a highly interesting new series dedicated to George Antheil’s symphonic works, the totally underrated music of a composer who began his career with a reputation as an enfant terrible during his formative years in Europe, where he composed a succession of shockingly avant-garde works, including Ballet mécanique in 1925. In this and his other early modernist pieces, the self-styled “Bad Boy of Music” was heavily influenced by the rhythmic dynamism and crushing dissonances of Stravinsky’s early ballets, but his stylistic preoccupations would change markedly after his return to the USA in 1933. He moved towards a fundamentally tonal and melody-based style, surprising those who knew his earlier experimental music by now joining the growing ranks of US symphonists working in tuneful neo-classical and neo-romantic idioms. Antheil considered his Symphony No. 4, begun in 1942, to be a meditation on several aspects of the ongoing war: the massacre in Lidice for the second movement, while the third, a Scherzo, was “a brutal joke, the joke of war”. The Allies’ eventual triumph was adumbrated in the symphony’s dynamic finale. The work was a tremendous success with both critics and concert-goers, and Time magazine felt that the premiere was an “almost unprecedented” phenomenon: a new American symphony which “failed to bore its audience”. The Time reviewer, however, suggested strong influence of Shostakovich; particularly obvious were the apparent nods towards the Russian composer’s bombastic “Leningrad” Symphony (No. 7), first heard in the United States in July 1942. Antheil resented this implication, however, writing in his autobiography that the passage in the middle of his first movement which had most frequently been attributed to his fondness for Shostakovich had in fact been recycled note-for-note from his own opera Transatlantic published as early as 1928 (the reader can readily check that here, track 20). As Antheil was quick to point out, this music therefore had originated during a time just somewhat before Shostakovich had written even one symphony. In 1947, Antheil put the score of a new but unfinished Fifth symphony aside (the work would become the unnumbered tragic Symphony) and devoted himself instead to a completely different Symphony No. 5; this new work would have a far more celebratory nature, as its sobriquet, “Joyous”, unashamedly indicated. Antheil regarded the symphony as marking his final break from what he called “the now passé” musical modernism of the early twentieth century. In his review of the Carnegie Hall performance, music critic Virgil Thomson declared Symphony No. 5 to be Antheil’s best work to date. The album begins with the short Over the Plains (1945, here a world premiere recording), recalling the emotions that he had experienced when travelling through Texas ten years before, on which occasion he knew that one day he would write a piece celebrating not only the optimistic, pioneering spirit that the view had inspired but also the cheerfulness of the local inhabitants. © SM/Qobuz

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