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American Classics - George Antheil (Ballet Mecanique)

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Antheil: Ballet Mecanique / Serenade For String Orchestra
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Audio-CD, 23. Juli 2001
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  • Komponist: George Antheil
  • Audio CD (23. Juli 2001)
  • SPARS-Code: DDD
  • Anzahl Disks/Tonträger: 1
  • Label: Naxos (Naxos Deutschland Musik & Video Vertriebs-)
  • ASIN: B00005NCYE
  • Weitere Ausgaben: Audio CD  |  MP3-Download
  • Durchschnittliche Kundenbewertung: 4.0 von 5 Sternen 1 Kundenrezension
  • Amazon Bestseller-Rang: Nr. 251.875 in Musik-CDs & Vinyl (Siehe Top 100 in Musik-CDs & Vinyl)
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Das "Ballet" mit dem an Stravinski erinnernden ryhtmischen Finessen -klanglich denkt man an Bartoks "Sonate f. 2 Klaviere und Schlagzeug" - ist eine kraftvolle Komposition! Die anderen Stücke sind auch für konservativ geprägte Hörer ein interessantes Neuland! Denn es ist eine Tonsprache, die nicht nur berieselt und einlullt.Man fragt sich, warum hierzulande Antheil fast unbekannt ist; schade um ihn!
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Amazon.com: 3.9 von 5 Sternen 9 Rezensionen
8 von 8 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
4.0 von 5 Sternen Fine illustration of George Antheil's art 13. August 2008
Von Steven Peterson - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verifizierter Kauf
George Antheil styled himself as the "Bad Boy of Music." As one listens to this CD, one is not so sure why people might have said that. He clearly was a capable composer and his music is worth listening to.

The CD is titled after one of his better known works, "Ballet Mecanique." This and the other works on this CD are played nicely by the Philadelphia Virtuosi Chamber Orchestra, under the direction of Daniel Spalding.

The "Ballet Mecanique" was first performed in France in 1926, reputedly to good reviews. As the liner notes put it, "Notorious for its orchestra of pianos, percussion, electric buzzers, and aeroplane propellers, 'Ballet' was a summation of Antheil's involvement with futurism."

What of the "Ballet"> It is a very energetic piece, a dynamic work. It is easy to listen to and enjoy. It does use strange instruments (such as buzzers and propellers) and stranger combinations of instruments; one critic referred to this work as an example of "demented modernism."

Still, the energy of this piece is infectious. One can see this as in the tradition of Stravinsky (note what other reviewers say). Piano and percussion add an interesting element to the whole of the composition.

The middle segment becomes quieter, even contemplative. Then, the energy returns for a dramatic close. It's a bit different. I tend not to enjoy more experimental music, but this surely works for me!

Also on this CD are some of his other signature pieces, such as "Serenade for String Orchestra," "Symphony for Five Instruments," and "Concert for Chamber Orchestra."

Overall, I think that this is worth a listen, exposing the listener to one of America's more intriguing composers of the early part of the century.
2 von 2 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen A killer 14. Mai 2013
Von G.D. - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verifizierter Kauf
Antheil's Ballet Mécanique certainly established Antheil's reputation as a "Bad Boy" of music at its premiere in 1924. Originally scored for a wide range of instruments and effects, from player pianos and xylophones to airplane propellers and constructed to accompany a surrealist film about machinery, what we get here is his 1953 rescoring for slightly more conventional and practical resources (two propellers, four pianos, a host of percussion instruments and electric bells). It still sounds like little else (and nothing preceding it) and has the power to take even hardened contemporary listeners aback with its otherworldly, shimmering sonorities, propulsive momentum and fizzing energy. Yet, above all, it is huge fun, and having a new, superbly played version is certainly very welcome (do also check out Naxos's release of John Antill's Corroborree, a less well-known but similarly original work).

The companion pieces are perhaps somewhat more conventional in character. The Serenade for Strings (1948) inhabits a sound world not too far removed from Prokofiev - perhaps with some of Shostakovich's sardonic wit, and certainly a sense of ominous ruminations beneath the generally buoyant surface. The Symphony for Five Instruments, on the other hand, predates Ballet Mécanique and is deeply indebted to Stravinsky, sounding very much like a counterpart to the latter's Symphonies of Wind Instruments, though Antheil adds some personal touches (especially in the middle movement); the main difference being that Antheil eschews Stravinsky's subtlety - where Stravinsky is sometimes sly, Antheil is almost naively straightforward. The Concert for Chamber Orchestra is rather Stravinskian as well, though even if it is clever in the way it combines and recombines element in a sharp, dry and emotionless language, it comes across as a bit formulaic and lacking in genuine inspiration.

As mentioned, the Philadelphia Virtuosi Chamber Orchestra performs everything with verve and ebullience under Daniel Spalding. I suppose their approach is less of a "revel in the chaos"-type of approach, but their performances are nevertheless engaging as well as deeply illuminating in how they manage to reveal the inner workings of the music without losing sense of the bigger lines. It is all really deeply fascinating, and the sound quality is clear and dry - as it should be in this music. Strongly recommended.
5.0 von 5 Sternen Five Stars 8. August 2016
Von peter - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verifizierter Kauf
Loved it
0 von 3 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
1.0 von 5 Sternen One Star 21. März 2015
Von B. Frankish - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verifizierter Kauf
Too dissonant
9 von 9 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen A symphony for aeroplane propellers, electric buzzers and numerous grand pianos? 21. Mai 2008
Von Piers Moktan - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Entertained by the weird, wacky and eclectic sounds of Frank Zappa, especially the orchestral Uncle Meat and King Kong, I subsequently learnt that his favourite composer was Edgard Varèse, famous for composing a symphony for percussion only (as well as being one of the earliest pioneers of electronic music). This struck me as such a ridiculous idea that I knew I just had to check it out (if Zappa liked it, then hell, I might too). Fortunately I had a friend with the expertise to initiate me into this intimidating foreign musical domain. And so my introduction to the wonders of twentieth century classical composition began. Stravinsky's Rite of Spring became an instant favourite, and Bartok's work soon after, followed by the scary sounds of Penderecki and Ligeti (remember those spine-chilling chorals in Kubrick's 2001?) It all made sense since I had already admired Bernard Hermann's Psycho, and discovered minimalists like Steve Reich and Philip Glass- the history was coming together from both ends.

So what about George Antheil (1900-1959)? Well, here we have a most unusually talented character. Besides work as a composer and pianist, he also mastered other disciplines and interests, writing on criminal justice, military history, and the explanatory role of endocrinology for criminal investigations, as well as patenting a torpedo guidance system and, with the actress Hedy Lamarr, a broad spectrum signal transmission system! His credentials of association with creative artists are also impeccable- in 1922 he went to Paris, where he met his idol Igor Stravinsky, as well as hanging out with Hemingway, Pound, Yeats, Picasso, and Man Ray, most of whom were apparently enthralled by his avant-garde music, which for them served as the soundtrack with which to advance their modernist manifesto.

So, finally onto Ballet Mécanique itself. This remains his most famous work, which I admit had a rather gimmicky appeal for me. After all, this is a symphony for aeroplane propellers, electric buzzers and numerous grand pianos! On its premier in Paris in 1926, the audience response was favourable, despite a leather strip flying into the audience, the propeller blowing off hats and toupées, and one audience member attempting to protect himself from the aural onslaught with an umbrella (wish I could have witnessed it)! The following year however, at Carnegie Hall in New York, his masterpiece was met with amused derision, and the discerning elite refused him their stamp of approval as a serious composer. Still, in the early days Antheil's radical work often sparked riots amongst audiences, resulting in his sobriquet as the `Bad Boy of Music' (which served as the title of his 1945 autobiography).

"Rhythmic vitality, harmonic pungency, and melodic vigor" characterise his work, and putting the gimmickry aside, it's worth reminding ourselves that a conference honoring his legacy was held in his hometown of Trenton, New Jersey in 2003, and that this rendition of his work was issued by Naxos in 2001 -all of which testifies to his enduring legacy (he does not deserve to be forgotten). Antheil's status as a great composer has surely been secured, and besides performance of the 1953 revised version of the Ballet Mécanique, this album also includes the relatively less radical Serenade for String Orchestra, Symphony for Five Instruments, and Concert for Chamber Orchestra, all of which are also fine pieces. And if anyone remembers the Walter Cronkite-narrated CBS documentary `The 20th Century', which ran from 1957-1970, then you have already heard some of the work of Antheil, who besides shocking audiences with bold musical innovations, later resorted to scoring films in order to earn a living. Far from cacophonous, Ballet Mécanique is an incredible piece, essential for anyone interested in 20th century composition (and by the way, the clockwork penguins on the cover seem peculiarly apt when one considers the fusion of mechanical and organic that characterises the instrumentation for Ballet Mécanique).
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