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Antheil: Capital of the World/Symphony 5/Archipelago
George Antheil, Barry Kolman, Slovak Philharmonic Orchestra
Antheil: Capital of the World/Symphony 5/Archipelago
Genre: Classical
  •  Track Listings (6) - Disc #1


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Fascinating example of mid-century American symphonic music!
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I came to know and appreciate Antheil's music while a student at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. "Capital of the World" was once extremely popular and this recording demonstrates why with catchy Spanish-flavored music. The Fifth Symphony "Joyous" contains infectious melodies and a strong "boogie-woogie" beat and was a favorite of critic and fellow composer Virgil Thompson. This is my personal favorite on the CD. The early "Archipelago" is Antheil's take on the "rhumba" and is very interesting. "Hats off" to Barry Kolman and the Slovak State Philharmonic Orchestra. Their obvious enthusiasm for Antheil's music results in an excellent sonic treat from this rarely-heard (and undeservedly so) composer."
Great Stuff!
Wayne A. | Belfast, Northern Ireland | 12/26/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)

"If Antheil infrequently sounds like Shostakovich or Prokofiev it's because he's consciously quoting. Otherwise, in fact, and after a long conversation with a certain conductor who was doing the Ballet Mechanique at Tanglewood, it might be that those Soviet composers instead may well have been influenced by Antheil--he was after all the "Bad Boy" during the Twenties. If one wanted to sound progressive (and not like Schoenberg or Stravinsky) George from New Jersey was your man. People tend to forget that. Listening to any of his major works I often wonder how this bizarre idea of his lack of originality ever came into being. It's like saying Berlioz was ripping off Schubert and Schumann.

Anyway, this is all posh. This music, and the symphony especially, sounds like Antheil and no one else, and why this stuff is not better known is anybody's guess. Maybe the world's just gone stupid. Antheil occupies a very unique sound world--I think for example of the weird Scherzo of the Fourth. Imagine something as unlikely as Kurt Weill and Richard Rodgers (in "Victory at Sea" mode) trying to rewrite the Bewegung movement from Mahler's Second.

Antheil's later style is uniquely kaleidoscopic, evolving as it did from his fragmented and almost minimalist approach to composition from his early radical years. He shouldn't be sitting on the sidelines--instead he should be getting serious attention. The Fourth Symphony, a phenomenal work, in particular still needs that perfect performance to get itself across to listeners. I've loved it since I was a kid and I'm still not the least bit tired of it--it's kind of the very American answer to the "Leningrad" symphony. The Fifth is an absolute hoot from top to bottom. It's loads of fun and really upbeat in the outer movements and often the writing is dazzling. Antheil never seems to run out of great ideas.

The ballet and Archipelago are not the strongest bits of Antheil I've known but they aren't pale copies of someone elses work either. I still enjoy them and perhaps better than equivalent pieces by Milhaud and Ibert. Antheil's jazziness is more sincere.

To touch on the "controversy" one more time, if anyone can find anything "Russkie" about the Fifth then they're hallucinating. The finale does interpolate the ending of Prokofiev's Fifth Symphony. There are probably a few other subtle quotations. This piece was written to celebrate the end of the Second World War. Just put two and two together--Antheil and the Russians were the only ones on this side of the conflict writing war symphonies."