Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

Music Webmaster
Len Mullenger:

Symphony No.4 (1944) 31.36

Statements (1935)
LSO/Eugene Goossens (Antheil): Copland (Copland)
rec 1958, Walthamstow Town Hall, London
EVEREST EVC 9039 [49.41]
Amazon US

The outrage engendered by Antheil's Ballet Mecanique has softened with the passage of the years. Looking back, the music of Leo Ornstein and Otto Luening retains more of its talent to shock than Antheil's early effusions. The fourth symphony is a product of World War 2. Its Moderato is a manic mixture of Shostakovich (think of the populist Fifth and Seventh symphonies), Tchaikovsky (surely the composer had heard a performance of the fourth symphony before writing the commanding opening of the movement) and de Falla (as also in the ballet Captain of the World). The ghostly allegro has the distinction of a theme akin to the 'windscreen wiper' music in Herrmann's Psycho. A Hollywood composer, Antheil in the andante central section of II, surrenders to the sort of lyricism also embraced by Hugo Friedhofer in The Best Years of Our Lives. The movement is said to reflect horrors such as Lidice but the poignancy is epidermal by comparison with Martinu's Lidice. The scherzo is light and quirky and the shadow of Shostakovich hangs over the movement as it does in the final Allegro non troppo. Other voices include Bliss Things to Come and Prokofiev. Ideas flow in proud, blatant and triumphant Mahlerian profusion, The sense of some grand and arrogant Toreador's march is as strong here as it is in the ballet Captain of the World (winningly done on Centaur with Symphony No.5).

The Copland is in six capsule length movements. Militant: more strident and martial than we expect from Copland; Cryptic: rugged with much of the brass; Dogmatic: terse and explosive; Subjective: an emotion-drained hesitant prayer for strings minus double basses; Jingo (a circus squawl) and Prophetic (it could easily have been dubbed 'Apocalyptic') touching on Quiet City in its trumpet solo and then moving as close as the piece ever comes to Appalachian Spring before staring quietly into eternity.

Sound quality is good though rather stressed by comparison with the best of the Everest 35mm originals. A nice disc though short on playing time.


Rob Barnett


Rob Barnett

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