George Antheil Serenades have international appeal

CPO has released a lot of George Antheil: all six symphonies; both piano concertos; and an opera. This release features his two serenades. Also included are two additional works; the ballet suite “Dreams,” and Antheil’s orchestrated piano piece, “The Golden Bird.”

The first serenade premiered in 1948, the second in 1950. If you only know Antheil through the Ballet mecanique, you might be surprised. If you’re familiar with his symphonies, you may also be surprised — for a different reason.

These works have none of the Ballet mecanique’s aggressive cacophony. They’re quite tonal. In style, they reminded me very much of Bohuslav Martinu. That’s especially true for the second serenade, with Antheil’s use of the piano as an orchestral instrument.

In the 1940s Antheil’s symphonic style began incorporating American musical traditions (and even American subjects). The end result is music that somewhat resembles Copland’s. But the serenades don’t. To me, they have more of an international sound (you know, like Martinu).

Fawzi Haimor and the Württenbergische Philharmonie Reutlingen deliver credible performances of these works. The ensemble has a smooth, cohesive sound. The instrumental soloists perform with competent artistry. All in all, they present the music well, and I enjoyed the recording.

George Antheil: Seranades 1 & 2
The Golden Bird; Dreams
Wüttenbergische Philharmonie Reutlingen; Fawzi Haimor, conductor
CPO 555 196-2 

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