TOCH
 

 

TOCH:  Piano Concerto No. 1, Op. 38.  Peter Pan, A Fairy Tale for Orchestra, Op. 76.  Pinocchio, A Merry OvertureBig Ben, Variation Fantasy on the Westminster Chimes, Op. 62.
Todd Crow, pianist; NDR-Hamburg Symphony Orch/Leon Botstein, cond.
NEW WORLD RECORDS 80609 (F) (DDD) TT:  66:56

This is the ninth CD to date of music by Ernst Toch (1887-1964; see my October 2002 review of the eighth). On New World (rather than cpo as 1-8 are), it is all-orchestral; Leon Botstein conducts the NDR-Hamburg SO, recorded in January 2002—a year later, that is, than Telarc's Botstein collection of music by contemporaneous Max Reger (review) The piteous tale of Toch's roller-coaster career can be read in the review of his Cello Concerto and shorter pieces. Whereas that cpo CD concentrated on his earlier works, this one covers three decades: the turbulent '20s, represented by an amiably atonal Piano Concerto No. 1; then Toch's progressively fallow '30s, although the 1935 Pinocchio, A Merry Overture for the Los Angeles Philharmonic and its then-music director Otto Klemperer, remains his most "popular" work; and finally the "serious"  '50s, following a massive heart-attack, although the three-movement Peter Pan, A Fairy Tale of 1955- 56 is true to title - i.e. programmatic - which the five symphonies published to date on cpo are not.

Big Ben, Variation Fantasy on the Westminster Chime is a post-atonal, pre-Hollywood work composed on shipboard for New York, commemorating the Tochs' stay in London during 1933- 34. It is as felicitous in a gauzy way as Pinocchio is antic, and Peter Pan's three movements are prankish. But, as I wrote of the eighth cpo CD, they quit the memory almost as soon as each work ends. The Piano Concerto is a three movement confection of a different color—call it moderated atonalism. Although I cared only for portions, in particular the middle Adagio movement, Todd Crow provides a yeoman solo performance throughout and Botstein contributes pace-matching leadership of an orchestra steeped in the polyglot styles of 20th-century Austro-German music. The team of Rolf Beck (Producer), Gerald G–tze (Tonmeister), Gunther Beckmann (Engineer) has given all of these pieces a companionable ambience and amplitude. Kudos, too, for Kyle Gann's lucid annotation

For Tochsters, this release will be as welcome as the earlier ones, especially since it provides a contemporary performance of Pinocchio. However, unless you know all the music beforehand, caution might be a watchword. Despite his reputation in various musical circles, I'd still characterize Toch as a first-rate second-level composer. You are welcome to disagree.

R.D. (February 2003)

TOCH:  Piano Concerto No. 1, Op. 38.  Peter Pan, A Fairy Tale for Orchestra, Op. 76.  Pinocchio, A Merry OvertureBig Ben, Variation Fantasy on the Westminster Chimes, Op. 62.
Todd Crow, pianist; NDR-Hamburg Symphony Orch/Leon Botstein, cond.
NEW WORLD RECORDS 80609 (F) (DDD) TT:  66:56

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This is the ninth CD to date of music by Ernst Toch (1887-1964; see my October 2002 review of the eighth). On New World (rather than cpo as 1-8 are), it is all-orchestral; Leon Botstein conducts the NDR-Hamburg SO, recorded in January 2002 - a year later, that is, than Telarc's Botstein collection of music by contemporaneous Max Reger (.review The piteous tale of Toch's roller-coaster career can be read in the review of his Cello Concerto and shorter pieces. Whereas that cpo CD concentrated on his earlier works, this one covers three decades: the turbulent '20s, represented by an amiably atonal Piano Concerto No. 1; then Toch's progressively fallow '30s, although the 1935 Pinocchio, A Merry Overture for the Los Angeles Philharmonic and its then-music director Otto Klemperer, remains his most "popular" work; and finally the "serious"  '50s, following a massive heart-attack, although the three-movement Peter Pan, A Fairy Tale of 1955- 56 is true to title- i.e. programmtic - which the five symphonies published to date on cpo are not.

Big Ben, Variation Fantasy on the Westminster Chime is a post-atonal, pre-Hollywood work composed on shipboard for New York, commemorating the Tochs' stay in London during 1933- 34. It is as felicitous in a gauzy way as Pinocchio is antic, and Peter Pan's three movements are prankish. But, as I wrote of the eighth cpo CD, they quit the memory almost as soon as each work ends. The Piano Concerto is a three movement confection of a different color - call it moderated atonalism. Although I cared only for portions, in particular the middle Adagio movement, Todd Crow provides a yeoman solo performance throughout and Botstein contributes pace-matching leadership of an orchestra steeped in the polyglot styles of 20th-century Austro-German music. The team of Rolf Beck (Producer), Gerald G–tze (Tonmeister), and Günther Beckmann (Engineer) has given all of these pieces a companionable ambience and amplitude. Kudos, too, for Kyle Gann's lucid annotation.

For Tochsters, this release will be as welcome as the earlier ones, especially since it provides a contemporary performance of Pinocchio. However, unless you know all the music beforehand, caution might be a watchword. Despite his reputation in various musical circles, I'd still characterize Toch as a first-rate second-level composer. You are welcome to disagree.

R.D. (February 2003)