Fine music by an underrated composer
Evan Wilson | Cambridge, Massachusetts United States | 02/16/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Ernst Toch once described himself as the most forgotten composer of the 20th century. While this might have been true during the 70s and 80s, it appears that there is a mini-revival of his music among recording companies. In addition to a symphony cycle on CPO, we've had recordings of some of his chamber works and now this disc of his cello music.If you've never heard Toch's music, this disc is a fine place to start. He really does not fit into any of the "schools" of music in the 20th century. On the page, his music looks something like that of Richard Strauss, with several distinct lines interweaving with each other. Unlike Strauss, though, Toch valued clarity so he rarely employed huge orchestras. (The Cello Concerto features a chamber orchestra of only 9 players!) Toch is also more chromatic than Strauss, but he never loses touch with tonality. There is also a nostalgic quality to his melodies that harkens back to the Viennese musical culture of the 19th century.All added up, this disc includes a Cello Concerto that really ought to be played more. While not up to the level of Elgar's work, this concerto contains much memorable music and is a workout for the player. Of the other two pieces, the solo cello pieces from late in the composer's career are more conservative and memorable. The sonata is also a fine piece.The playing and sound of this disc are fine, if not top of the line. In any case, if you're interested in remebering an unjustly forgotten 20th composer, this disc may interest you."