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Jean-Yves Duperron
Classical Music Sentinel, October 2009

This CD is a good introduction into the world of George Antheil. His reputation was built around the Ballet Mécanique probably because it caused the same kind of original reaction that Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring did. Although the Ballet is a good, challenging work in it’s own way, I find the other pieces on this disc more of an example of Antheil’s talent. His style is a blend of Auric, Poulenc and Stravinsky, but with an American sound. The Serenade is quite delightful, very tonal and tuneful. If you don’t know this composer, add this CD to your collection.



Royal S. Brown
Fanfare, April 2002

"Daniel Spalding leads the Philadelphia Virtuosi in an exhilaratingly energetic and stunningly well-synchronized performance recorded with exceptional fullness and thump by the Naxos engineers... Antheil's Ballet mecanique overwhelms the listener with its infectious vitality and futuristic/primitivistic enthusiasm."



David McKee
American Record Guide, April 2002

These are sprightly, energetic works -- given like performances -- that should please all tastes... The Philadelphia Virtuosi Chamber Orchestra... plays them with obvious dedication. Spalding secures execution that is galant in feeling, stylish in its turn of phrase, and yet underpinned by real affection."



Turok’s Choice, March 2002

"An excellently-performed CD by Daniel Spaulding and his Philadelphia Virtuosi."



Robert Baird
Stereophile, February 2002

"This stunning recording of Ballet Mechanique will give your audio system a workout... Another fine disc from Naxos American Classics."



Richard Whitehouse
Gramophone, November 2001

"Spalding secures a zestful performance from the Philadelphia Virtuosi... Characterful and well-prepared performances, cleanly recorded, and informative notes from Joshua Cheek. Probably the best disc yet in Naxos's American Classics series and...confirmation that the self-styled 'bad boy' Antheil's musical legacy is richer and more varied than has been suspected."



David Hurwitz
ClassicsToday.com, October 2001

"George Antheil's infamous Ballet Mecanique exists in (basically) three versions, the first of which (for lots of synchronized mechanical pianos and percussion) has only recently been premiered and recorded for the first time by the UMass Lowell Percussion Ensemble. The version that scandalized Paris audiences in 1926 actually was an arrangement for lots of normal pianos and percussion, and this version was recreated on a long out-of-print MusicMasters disc. Daniel Spalding and his intrepid ensemble take on the composer's 1953 revision for the time-honored (via Stravinsky and Orff) ensemble of four pianos and percussion, an arrangement that reduces the score by about half while preserving the most important thematic material. It's a fine work in its own right, more conventionally "listenable" than the early versions, and it's easy to understand Antheil's desire to give the music wider currency. Spalding and his ensemble play very well indeed, and the recording balances the various special effects (airplane propellers and electric bells) in such a way that they register without ever becoming totally obnoxious.

"You can't help but feel sorry for Antheil's subsequent career misfortunes. After all, no one today seriously castigates Stravinsky for not writing more Rites of Spring, and we can only view with bemusement the cold shoulder given Antheil's post 'Mecanique' production, especially considering the fact that even this notorious work was as ignored in performance as the rest of his music. Antheil clearly recognized that, like Stravinsky's 'Rite', the Ballet Mecanique was an artistic dead end, but as this disc proves, he wrote plenty of fine music both before and after it. Take the Serenade for String Orchestra No. 1. Here's a delightful piece, humorous and lyrical, full of rhythmic energy and good tunes. The Symphony for Five Instruments very cleverly balances an unusual ensemble of viola, flute, bassoon, trumpet, and trombone, and will appeal to anyone who enjoys the chamber music of Poulenc. The Concert for Chamber Orchestra (actually a wind octet), also reeks of Stravinsky and Les Six, but you'd be hard pressed to find anything by that septet of composers precisely like it.

"In short, Antheil's neglect is completely unjustified, as this and other fine recordings now appearing on Naxos and CPO clearly demonstrate. As with the Ballet, Spalding and the Philadelphia Virtuosi Chamber Orchestra play these diverse other works with affection and relish. Naxos provides them with excellent recorded sound too. A winner in every respect, this disc should go far toward supporting the ongoing rehabilitation of this seminal figure in 20th century music."



Gary Higginson
MusicWeb International, October 2001

And who better to play this music than a young and enthusiastic group from George Antheil's homeland, the Philadelphia Virtuosi Chamber Orchestra conducted by Daniel Spalding who founded the ensemble in 1991. This is their first disc for Naxos and will not be their last. They are indeed a group of virtuosi with a tremendous sense of ensemble and rapport. Spalding is a percussionist and a composer and has an ideal profile for a disc of this kind. Please let us have more from them.



Daivd Raymond
City Paper (Rochester, NY)

"[Antheil's] artistic journey is economically documented on this CD, from the Spiky Stravinskyan Symphony for 5 Instruments of the 20's, the slightly mellower Concert for Chamber Orchestra of the 1930's, and the mellifluous Americana of the Serenade for Strings of 1948...Antheil's reputation is so low, it's nice to report that these are all very appealing, if derivative, works, brightly played and recorded."



T. Hashimoto
San Francisco Examiner

"Despite his name and fearsome rep as a member of the French avant-garde (that included Man Ray, Erik Satie and Picasso), George Antheil was an American maverick. His most notorious work is the 1926 "Ballet Mecanique," not for dance but for concert performance. The summation of Antheil's adventure with "futurism," it is scored for glockenspiel, airplane propellers, gong, cymbal, woodblock, triangle, snare drum, tambourine, electronic bells, tenor drum, bass drum, two xylophones and four pianos.

You can imagine what it sounds like: demented cacophony that manages to be cheeky, hilarious and exciting. (I wish Mark Morris would choreograph a dance to it.) The other music on this disc is more conventional, even pretty: Serenade for String Orchestra; Symphony for Five Instruments and Concert for Chamber Orchestra. But make no mistake: it is the "Ballet Mecanique" that supplies the sizzle."






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8:12:57 AM, 22 October 2014
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