52,943 reviews
and more.. and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here



International mailing

  Founder: Len Mullenger             Editor in Chief: John Quinn               Contact Seen and Heard here  

Some items
to consider

£11 post-free anywhere
Normal service resumed


100th birthday of Mieczyslaw Weinberg on December 8, 2019.
Renate Eggbrecht has recorded all 3 violin Sonatas

Bruno Monteiro (violin)

More Preludes to Chopin
Kenneth Hamilton (piano)

Gloriæ Dei Cantores


Recordings of the Month


Beethoven Piano Concertos

Stradal Transcriptions

LOSY Note d’oro

Scarlatti Sonatas Vol 2



Feinberg Piano Sonatas

Schoenberg Violin Concerto

Early Keyboard

Nun Danket Alle Gott
Now Everyone Thanks God


Support us financially by purchasing this from

George ANTHEIL (1900-1959)
Violin Sonata No.1 (1923) [27:10]
Violin Sonata No.2 (1923) [9:13]
Violin Sonata No.3 (1924) [18:02]
Violin Sonata No.4 (1947-48) [24:21]
Alessandro Fagiuoli (violin)
Alessia Toffanin (piano)
rec. 2016/17, Teatro OPSA, Sarmeola, Padova
C-AVI MUSIC 8553239 [78:49]

His Violin Sonatas chart as starkly as any other genre the staging posts in George Antheil’s development from Futurist to neo-romantic. The subtext is the exceptional rapidity with which he absorbed and projected new selves very early in that process, as the vast differences in size, intent and significance between the three sonatas written in 1923-24 illustrate.

His four-movement First Sonata was dedicated to Olga Rudge, the violinist later to become Ezra Pound’s companion. The acme of the percussive early 20s, whether chordal or ostinati the sonata is saturated in Stravinsky’s barbaro inheritance, Rite-rich but inclining just as much to L’Histoire du Soldat. Its rhythmic insistence is accompanied by a near-obsessive sense of spinning repetition, giving the first movement the force of a vortex. After which the North African suggestiveness of the second moment, scalar, and very evocative, comes as a kind of bizarre balm, to be intensified by the misterioso third movement. The finale returns to the pent-up percussiveness that began the sonata, full of piano clusters, taut bowing and an almost exhausting vehemence.

The rapid conjunctions of moods in the sonata, along with sustained periods of percussive repetition do not in any way prepare one for the Second Sonata, dedicated to Pound, and a larky nine minutes of Antheil-the-debunker. This is a sarcastic collage of a work, a kaleidoscope of popular ballads played on the violin only to be battered and buffeted by the piano. Bar-room ragtime reigns. A few percussion repetitions do remind one of the earlier sonata before Antheil lets the violin and a drum (uncredited – but played here by the pianist?) take the music off into an indeterminate sound world; Tango? Arabic? It’s anyone’s guess.

The following year his single-movement Third Sonata returns to Stravinsky and the idée fixe of obsessively spiraling figures. But this time the music is slightly clearer in its neo-classical affiliations, and a mood of reflectiveness slips in more overtly than before. It’s more conventional, without a doubt, and perhaps its satisfactorily achieved final measures are more obvious than one would expect from Antheil at this point. But perhaps, too, the frenzy of the first two sonatas was impossible, and undesirable, to replicate.

He returned to the genre during 1947-48 writing a Fourth Sonata. This time the spirit is cocksure with a whistling insouciance; a boulevardier’s strut. Tartness remains but it has been effortlessly incorporated into the fabric of the music to such an extent that, for instance, he unveils a Passacaglia-Variations of sonorous breadth. And while vestiges of Stravinskian methodology remain in the finale too, they are more than counter-balanced by a kind of jovial swing and an easy-going lyricism.

These wide-ranging stylistic traits are not easy to encompass but the Fagiuli-Toffanin duo really get to grips with Antheil in this forthright sequence of performances. They are admirably suited to the music and project its bewildering variety with requisite boldness.

Jonathan Woolf

Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical

Nimbus Podcast

Obtain 10% discount

Special offer 50% off
15CDs £83 incl. postage

Musicweb sells the following labels

Altus 10% off
Atoll 10% off
CRD 10% off
Hallé 10% off
Lyrita 10% off
Nimbus 10% off
Nimbus Alliance
Prima voce 10% off
Red Priest 10% off
Retrospective 10% off
Saydisc 10% off
Sterling 10% off

Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
Rob Barnett
Editor in Chief
John Quinn
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger