Antheil: Symphony No. 3

Antheil: Symphony No. 3 "American"

by Hugh WolffHugh Wolff


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Despite all the attempts to write the "Great American Symphony," it's dubious that such a holy grail was ever truly achieved. Roy Harris and Aaron Copland came closest (in their respective Third Symphonies), but another composer announced his candidacy with his own Third Symphony: George Antheil. This erstwhile "Bad Boy of Music" attempted to forge a career back home in the United States after his heady European successes of the 1920s, and his Third Symphony (written in 1936-39 and subtitled the "American") has finally been revived in CPO's ongoing series devoted to the composer, with Hugh Wolff leading the Frankfurt Radio Symphony. It opens with the bustling, jazzy energy that's often associated with musical Americana, but the remaining movements seem more interested in bridging the gap between America and Europe: Folksy themes are juxtaposed with material borrowed -- more or less explicitly -- from Mahler and Sibelius, while the finale suggests a camaraderie with Shostakovich. It's an appealing score in many ways, yet it's overshadowed on this disc by the works that follow. Tom Sawyer (1949) and the Hot-Time Dance (1948) are sparkling and vital; either would make an irresistible curtain-raiser. A more ambitious work, McKonkey's Ferry (1948) -- named after the point where Washington crossed the Delaware -- invests its heroic subject matter with real drama, while the suite from Antheil's ballet Capital of the World (1953), based on an Ernest Hemingway short story set in Madrid, convincingly channels Spanish rhythms and moods into an exciting set of dances. Even more than his "American" Symphony, these pieces reveal Antheil as one of the most inventive and appealing American composers of his generation.

Product Details

Release Date: 11/16/2004
Label: Cpo Records
UPC: 0761203704026
catalogNumber: 777040
Rank: 127827


  1. Symphony, for orchestra No. 3 ("American"), W. 174
  2. Tom Sawyer, overture for orchestra, W. 192
  3. American Dance Suite No. 1: Hot-Time Dance, for orchestra, W. 187
  4. McKonkey's Ferry (Washington at Trenton); A Concert Overture, for orchestra, W. 188
  5. The Capital of the World Suite (3), for orchestra, W. 198

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Hugh Wolff   Primary Artist

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