Antheil: Symphony No. 3; Capital of the World; McKonkey’s Ferry; Tom Sawyer; Hot Time Dance

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COMPOSERS: Antheil
LABELS: CPO
ALBUM TITLE: Antheil
WORKS: Symphony No. 3; Capital of the World; McKonkey’s Ferry; Tom Sawyer; Hot Time Dance
PERFORMER: Frankfurt RSO
Hugo Wolff
CATALOGUE NO: 7770402
In 1936, the versatile George Antheil

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spent the proceeds of his column

of advice to the lovelorn in Esquire

magazine on a tour of the southern

and western United States. His

American Symphony was written

mostly during this trip, though it was

revised in the 1940s and remained

unperformed for some time even

after that. It’s effectively a travel

diary, mixing hymns, tangos, jazz

rhythms and down-home songs à la Stephen Foster with echoes of

Mahler, Sibelius and Shostakovich,

in what might politely be called an

episodic manner. Certainly, for all its

attractions along the way, it doesn’t

begin to hang together as a fourmovement

symphony.

In this latest instalment of CPO’s

Antheil series, it’s coupled with less

ambitious works from the 1940s

and 1950s. The overture McKonkey’s

Ferry, inspired by the famous

painting of Washington crossing

the Delaware, has uncomfortable

moments of Soviet-style tubthumping.

More successful is a

suite from the ballet Capital of the

World, based on a Hemingway short

story set in Madrid, which gains

in coherence from the consistent

use of Spanish colouring. The

performances are generally idiomatic

and confident, if occasionally a

little stolid; the recording, though

exaggerated in its front-to-back

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perspective, is clear. Anthony Burton