Search - Piano; Philadelphia Virtuosi Chamber Orchestra Guy Livingston :: George Antheil: Dreams (1935), Piano Concerto No. 2 (1926-7), Serenade No. 2 (1948)

George Antheil: Dreams (1935), Piano Concerto No. 2 (1926-7), Serenade No. 2 (1948)
Piano; Philadelphia Virtuosi Chamber Orchestra Guy Livingston
George Antheil: Dreams (1935), Piano Concerto No. 2 (1926-7), Serenade No. 2 (1948)
Genre: Classical
 
  •  Track Listings (14) - Disc #1

A concert pianist and vanguard composer, George Antheil (1900-1959) became known as the "Bad Boy of Music." The ultimate American in Paris, Antheil was an avant-garde provocateur of the first order who made his name compos...  more »

      
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A concert pianist and vanguard composer, George Antheil (1900-1959) became known as the "Bad Boy of Music." The ultimate American in Paris, Antheil was an avant-garde provocateur of the first order who made his name composing iconoclastic compositions: the loudest and brashest classical music of his time. But this album gives us three new performances-two of them world-premiere recordings-which reveal another, forgotten side of antheil, the incurable romantic. Written in 1926, after the the height of Antheil's radical period, the Piano Concerto No. 2 is an experiment in classical form. The work contains the same sudden juxtapositions and abrupt contrasts of mood as his futuristic music. But the excesses of his recent Ballet mécanique (written for 16 player pianos!) are compensated for by an almost spare, baroque orchestration and motifs that draw on Bach as much as on Stravinsky. In three movements, Antheil employs a more restrained but still exuberant style. The beautifully meditative slow movement is followed by a virtuosic and compelling toccata. Each movement ends on an overtly Bachian cadence, most obvious in the sweetly naive coda of the final movement. The ballet Dreams (1935) had a prior existence in Paris. It was called Les Songes, and Darius Milhaud wrote the original music in 1933, later discarded in favor of Antheil's score. The plot was based on a surrealist poem by the painter André Derain. An Balanchine choreographed the production for his company Les Ballets. Antheil plays sarcastically with contradictions: waltz vs. march; folk song vs. orchestral romanticism. This is mavelous ballet music, and the unexpected structural and melodic changes keep us on the edge of our seat: amused and entertained. The lack of a formal structure does not hamper Antheil; he seemed to thrive on it, both in this piece, and in many others he wrote.
 

CD Reviews

Another Fine Release (don't listen to critics)
Miles Massicotte | Bristol, CT, USA | 03/20/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I would like to take this space to quickly clarify a matter concerning Antheil. To his music I was at first dubious, especially looking at his detractors comments. But after listening to Ballet Mecanique, the Violin Sonatas, and Guy Livingston's impecable performance of the Lost Sonatas, I was soon on the bandwagon. But at the same time I wasn't sure whether I should like him or not. Everyone seemed to say that he was a charlatan and a copycat. History has treated Mr. Antheil poorly. His Ballet Mecanique was truly revolutionary, literally ahead of its time (if you don't know the story, he wrote a piece which included 16 synchronized player pianos, impossible to achieve until recently, and now the piece has been received with open arms as a hallmark and masterwork of 20th century radicalism.) Antheil was rejected here in the U.S. due to the technical failure and poor performance of the Ballet Mecanique. And that is a piece which is so chaotic if it is not played precisely perfect it would be hard to decipher anyway, hence the 1955? revision for a more conventional orchestra (nice, but the original is vastly superior.) America likes to exalt the few and kill the rest. Antheil should have far more praise than he gets. He, Stravinsky, and Schoenberg form the holy trinity of 20th century music (the latter I really don't care for as much as his followers.)

Now, concerning his romantic/neoclassic adventures. Once you get with the iconoclast program it is hard to make such a huge leap from his early insanly dense dissonant works and his latter unsettling but calm neoclassic works. But Antheil was done with that scene. He always said his heart was with traditional classical music, he just had something to say in terms of the role of mechanism in music. Upon first listen to some of his later works you might be detested. He leads you somewhere (and this is true for all his later works), and suddenly changes a few notes to the point where it sounds out of tune, jarring, horrible. It sounds stupid. But there is something oddly attractive. And so as you continue you must adapt yourself to it. Antheil waited for no one. It is in this fashion that his later music is too revolutionary. Critics cite obvious influences: Shostakovitch, Prokofiev, Copland, and above all Stravinsky. The problem lies that they use this as a means to escape unfair prosecution for not liking his pieces. They cannot discredit them really, so they call the cheap imitations of better neoclassical composers. NOT SO! In classical music, soul is rapidly dying. Listeners want easily palatable music that is stereotypical and boring, like pop music. If you want your art experience dumb and stupid, don't come to George Antheil.

As for the music on this CD, I am once again amazed at the excellent musicianship. It is as if the only classical players left with soul all worked on Antheil (and other modern composers.) Put it this way: it is hard to find a poorly played Antheil recording. This one is no exception. Hopefully soon so much of his music will be on CD that Schirmer will publish more sheet music and we'll see complete works collections (my dream!). Dreams is a fabulous piece implying its title. It is exciting, but yet I feel like I could completely zone out to it. Piano Concerto 2 is virtuostic in every aspect, brilliant. And Serenade 2 is typically beautiful of his later period. You can't sum up music in words, hence why it is music. But for Antheil lovers especially, modern music lovers with an open mind, if you like composers like Sorabji, Ornstein, the neoclassical Russians, and radical Americans you should definitely enjoy this. I give it my highest possible recommendation, and long live Antheil!"
What a Pleasure .....
Samuel Ciurca | Rochester, NY | 11/10/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)

"What a pleasure - to discover some new classical music to me and to find out that this George Antheil fellow produced so many sounds that my brain finds so fascinating. Strikes the right 'chords' with me. This is my 3rd Antheil purchase. And what a dream ......
Sam Ciurca"
A Beautiful Recording
A Customer | 09/20/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)

"A welcome addition to recordings of Antheil's music. It's good to see an increase in interest in his work; he has been neglected for too long. Hopefully the operas and film scores will be recorded someday."