BOSTON — Cast your eye over the orchestral landscape, and the big picture could be seen as one of institutional malaise: deficits, labor strife, cowardly programming. All of which makes it imperative to celebrate those ensembles that, through luck, skill and diligence, pull off what the symphonic behemoths too rarely achieve: diverse repertoire and financial equilibrium.
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How did composers react to the violence of The First World War? In the last show in our series on the Great War, we’re listening to the sounds that emerged from its ashes. In Vienna concert halls and New York jazz clubs, from Maurice Ravel’s piano elegies to Igor Stravinsky’s explosive symphonies, we’re coursing through the composers who defined a modern era, reacting to the terrible violence of total warfare through art.
...we have a fascinating dichotomy here, a piece composed by a white expatriate American premiered by an all-African-American orchestra in the composer's native land.
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With this audacious release BMOP/sound is the first to give us a modern day hybrid, CD(2)/SACD(2/5.0), recording devoted to one of the most off the wall works ever composed by a twentieth century American. His name was George Antheil (1900-1959, see the newsletter of 8 June 2011), and the piece is his Ballet pour instruments mécaniques et percussion more commonly known as Ballet Mécanique (1925). Written while he was living in Paris, it was to accompany a Dadaist film of the same name, and is by today's standards a sonic happening.
This is my first encounter with the Boston Modern Orchestra Project, and I am mightily impressed. The music on this admittedly brief disc is performed with such verve and evangelical intensity that it makes the visit to George Antheil’s sadly underrated or arguably overrated world supremely worthwhile.
Snappy new recordings of the music of Milton Babbitt and George Antheil from the Boston Modern Orchestra Project, while cellist Christ Wild’s disc offers a fascinating journey through some richly diverse musical soundscapes.
Le Boston Modern Orchestra Project et son directeur musical Gil Rose frappent un grand coup avec cet enregistrement de la version originale (1924) du Ballet pour instruments mécaniques et percussion de l’Américain George Antheil pour seize pianos mécaniques (ici, huit Disklavier), huit percussionnistes et deux pianos réguliers (plus sirènes et moteurs d’avion!). Heavy metal avant la lettre, et pas qu’un peu!
George Antheil was quite a character in the music of the first half of the last century. He authored a book, Bad Boy of Music, which is still in print. He was at the noisy premiere riot of The Rite of Spring in Paris and reported that he wasn’t a bit concerned for himself because he had a loaded pistol in his pocket. After moving to Hollywood to escape the Nazi, like so many other composers in Europe, he continued his career writing scores for the movies.