Monday, June 12, 2017

George Antheil - Piano Concertos; A Jazz Symphony; Jazz Sonata (Markus Becker)


Information

Composer: George Antheil
  1. Piano Concerto No. 1
  2. Piano Concerto No. 2: I. Moderato
  3. Piano Concerto No. 2: II. Largo
  4. Piano Concerto No. 2: III. Allegro
  5. A Jazz Symphony
  6. Jazz Sonata
  7. Can-Can
  8. Sonatina
  9. Death of machines
  10. Little Shimmy

Markus Becker, piano
NDR Radio Philharmonic Orchestra
Eiji Oue, conductor

Date: 2005
Label: cpo
https://www.jpc.de/jpcng/cpo/detail/-/art/George-Antheil-1900-1959-Klavierkonzerte-Nr-1-2/hnum/2547259


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Review

Bad-boy Antheil’s jolly, jazzy piano music is a real steal

Some of this is hilarious 1920s music. George Antheil, the self-styled ‘bad boy of music’ – another American in Paris – is in fine kleptomaniac form at a time when he idolised Stravinsky and plagiarised compulsively.

The two Piano Concertos are important first recordings. The first one (1922) pilfers from Petrushka, The Rite and Les noces, veering in and out of Stravinsky at dramatic moments. In the second one (1926) Antheil derives an entire idiom from the great man’s latest works, the Concerto for Piano and Wind and the Sonata and Serenade for piano solo. The piano passagework stems from its models, especially the ubiquitous parallel thirds from the last movement of the Serenade and the dry Stravinskian staccato. At the time, sophisticated Parisians considered such overt homage to be gauche, but now the Second Concerto sounds like a neoclassical masterpiece that could almost have been written by Stravinsky himself. Antheil had his own sense of humour but these concertos also have charm – and they are well worth revival, as Eckhardt van den Hoogen’s extensive notes rightly claim.

The Jazz Symphony (1925) is not new to CD and is always a riotous delight, with its unexpected pop-tune ending, and the Jazz Sonata (1922) shows that Antheil was ahead of Gershwin in helping himself to aspects of African-American music. Both the concertos and the five piano works are played with total control and abundant zest by Markus Becker. Some of the solos are not listed in Grove and the CD booklet doesn’t clarify the confusion. But CPO, following its admirable series of the six symphonies, has provided a truly sensational contribution to the Antheil revival.Some of this is hilarious 1920s music. George Antheil, the self-styled ‘bad boy of music’ – another American in Paris – is in fine kleptomaniac form at a time when he idolised Stravinsky and plagiarised compulsively.

The two Piano Concertos are important first recordings. The first one (1922) pilfers from Petrushka, The Rite and Les noces, veering in and out of Stravinsky at dramatic moments. In the second one (1926) Antheil derives an entire idiom from the great man’s latest works, the Concerto for Piano and Wind and the Sonata and Serenade for piano solo. The piano passagework stems from its models, especially the ubiquitous parallel thirds from the last movement of the Serenade and the dry Stravinskian staccato. At the time, sophisticated Parisians considered such overt homage to be gauche, but now the Second Concerto sounds like a neoclassical masterpiece that could almost have been written by Stravinsky himself. Antheil had his own sense of humour but these concertos also have charm – and they are well worth revival, as Eckhardt van den Hoogen’s extensive notes rightly claim.

The Jazz Symphony (1925) is not new to CD and is always a riotous delight, with its unexpected pop-tune ending, and the Jazz Sonata (1922) shows that Antheil was ahead of Gershwin in helping himself to aspects of African-American music. Both the concertos and the five piano works are played with total control and abundant zest by Markus Becker. Some of the solos are not listed in Grove and the CD booklet doesn’t clarify the confusion. But CPO, following its admirable series of the six symphonies, has provided a truly sensational contribution to the Antheil revival.

-- Peter Dickinson, Gramophone

More reviews:
ClassicsToday  ARTISTIC QUALITY: 9 / SOUND QUALITY: 9
http://www.classical.net/music/recs/reviews/c/cpo77109b.php
http://www.allmusic.com/album/george-antheil-piano-concertos-nos-1-3-a-jazz-symphony-jazz-sonata-mw0001859769
https://www.amazon.com/George-Antheil-Concertos-Symphony-Sonata/dp/B000E0VNRK

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George Antheil (July 8, 1900 – February 12, 1959) was an American avant-garde composer, pianist, author and inventor whose modernist musical compositions explored the modern sounds – musical, industrial, mechanical – of the early 20th century. Spending much of the 1920s in Europe, Antheil returned to the US in the 1930s, and thereafter spent much of his time composing music for films and, eventually, television. A man of diverse interests and talents, Antheil was constantly reinventing himself. He wrote magazine articles, an autobiography, a mystery novel, newspaper and music columns.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Antheil

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Markus Becker (born 1963) is a German pianist. Becker studied with Karl-Heinz Kämmerling and gained additional inspiration with Alfred Brendel. He has been a Professor at the Musikhochschule Hannover since 1993. Following his acclaimed CD debut with the f sharp minor Sonatas of Johannes Brahms and Schumann and further recordings for harmonia mundi and EMI classics, Markus Becker recorded the first complete edition of Max Reger's piano works (Thorofon).

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