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<<  -- 2 --  Peter Dale    AMERICAN VOICES

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The music tends to episodic evolution rather than thematic development. This may be a structural weakness but it is also the opportunity for complementing and contrasting moods to achieve what an unkind critic might call composites rather than compositions. For my part, I'm missing the tension of truly symphonic argument but I'm enjoying the bold abrasion of irony and sardonic humour, and I'm not feeling merely indulged by the occasional contemplative eddies, warm lyrical cameos [listen - Antheil CD track 7, 1:30-2:30], out of the mainstream of the prevailing thrusts of energy.

McKonkey's Ferry is a sort of Tone Poem: George Washington crossing the Delaware on Christmas Night 1776. It's a strong, characterful piece [listen - Antheil CD track 1, 0:00-1:00].

The sleeve notes begin with an epigraph from The New World Telegram of January 1949 suggesting that if Antheil is not quite an American Shostakovich (he isn't; he hasn't Shostakovich's grip upon symphonic drama nor anything like the stamina and grit of his conscience, though the dry martialism certainly has a similar flavour) then it was still possible that the Russians might begin calling Shostakovich a Russian Antheil. I don't know about that, but both composers might relish the irony of an almost Russian Orchestra bringing this largely forgotten American music back to Western ears. The National Symphony Orchestra of The Ukraine play very well indeed. Theodore Kuchar negotiates the restless tempi (and innumerable changes of tempi) with absolute conviction. The recording is a little close and dry, but perhaps it suits the music to be like that. Certainly both the music and this disc are well worth listening to.

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Copyright © 2 September 2000 Peter Dale, Danbury, Essex, UK

 

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CD INFORMATION - NAXOS 8.559033 - GEORGE ANTHEIL

PURCHASE THE ANTHEIL DISC FROM AMAZON

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CD INFORMATION - NAXOS 8.559034 - PAUL CRESTON

PURCHASE THE CRESTON DISC FROM AMAZON

PURCHASE THE CRESTON DISC FROM CROTCHET

 

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