Gershwin, Adams, Falla, Takemitsu, Korngold, Antheil, Honegger, Stravinsky, Copland, Shostakovich, Prokofiev, etc

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Adams,Antheil,Copland,etc,Falla,Gershwin,Honegger,Korngold,Prokofiev,Shostakovich,Stravinsky,Takemitsu
LABELS: EMI
ALBUM TITLE: Collection: Who Is Afraid of 20th Century Music?, Vol. 2
WORKS: Works
PERFORMER: Hamburg State PO/Ingo Metzmacher
CATALOGUE NO: CDC 5 57129 2
The purpose of this series, each a recording of a live concert, is clear. It is to mix the familiar and friendly with the less familiar and sometimes provocative in order to make inexperienced audiences feel that 20th-century music is attractive, exciting, worth exploring. So Ingo Metzmacher and his Hamburg players include much razzmatazz and frankly little refinement. Gershwin’s Cuban Overture sets both level and pace, and John Adams’s Short Ride in a Fast Machine and a spot of twirling Manuel de Falla keep the ball a-rolling. Then a gentle hit between the eyes with Takemitsu’s ‘Green’, from November Steps, unfamiliar non-tonal harmonies leavened by touches of soupy melody. Lest that prove too challenging, a hearty Military March by Korngold gets feet a-tapping again. Good to hear Stravinsky’s rarely played, pre-Diaghilev Fireworks (1908), predictable that the machine age should be evoked by Mossolov’s noisy, frantic socialist-realist The Iron Foundry (1928) and equally so that Ravel’s Pavane pour une infante défunte should make an appearance. The audience plainly loves every moment, but it would be wrong to claim that the pieces here are truly representative of the grand sweep of 20th-century Western orchestral music. Boulez, Schoenberg and Birtwistle still scare people stiff. Vol. 3, perhaps? Stephen Pettitt

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