Toch: Tanz-Suite; Cello Concerto

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COMPOSERS: Toch
LABELS: CPO
WORKS: Tanz-Suite; Cello Concerto
PERFORMER: Susanne Müller-Hornbach (cello); Mutare Ensemble/Gerhard Müller-Hornbach
CATALOGUE NO: 999 688-2
Despite his prominent position in German musical life during the Twenties, Ernst Toch has not yet enjoyed the same degree of exposure as other major composers of the Weimar Republic. One may argue that he is not quite as accessible and interesting a figure as Weill, nor does he manifest the same degree of versatility as Hindemith or Krenek.

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Yet the present disc surely contradicts such impressions. The Dance Suite, a large-scale six-movement chamber work composed in 1923, is a brilliantly conceived piece. Using the limited forces of violin, viola, double bass, flute clarinet and percussion, Toch constructs a most appealing set of dances utilising the maximum degree of textural and emotional contrast.

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The Cello Concerto, composed a year later, enjoyed the advocacy of Emmanuel Feuermann, who played the work over 60 times before the Nazis came to power. Like the Tanz-Suite it’s an attractive work that sustains one’s interest throughout its four extended movements. Performances of both pieces are technically impressive, though cellist Susanne Müller-Hornbach could have delivered a more strongly characterised account of the solo part in the Concerto, and she makes somewhat heavy weather of the double-stopping in the cadenza at the outset of the Adagio. Erik Levi