TOCH: Miniature Overture; Peter Pan; Notturno; Jeptha–Rhapsodic Poem (Symphony No. 5) – The Louisville Orchestra/ Robert Whitney and Jorge Mester (Miniature Overture)First Edition

by | Jul 27, 2005 | Classical Reissue Reviews | 0 comments

TOCH: Miniature Overture; Peter Pan, Op. 76; Notturno, Op. 77;
Jeptha–Rhapsodic Poem (Symphony No. 5), Op. 89 – The Louisville
Orchestra/Robert Whitney and Jorge Mester (Miniature Overture)

First Edition FECD-0035  45:40 (Distrib. Albany)****:

The name of Ernest Toch (1887-1964) first impressed me in my collegium
musicum class at SUNY Binghamton, with our singing of the composer’s
witty Geographical Fugue, with its emphatic TI-BET!  Performances
of the Pinocchio Overture confirmed my assessment of Toch as a thorough
classicist with a virile idiosyncratic capacity for color and
nuance.  The film score to Gary Cooper’s fanciful Pete Ibbetsen
also caught my attention. The graceful charm and orchestral facility of
the present group of Toch pieces only continues to make me wonder why
the musical airwaves are so bereft of this composer’s fine and
varigated talent.

The big work of this Toch group is the 1962 score Jeptha, the
composer’s one-movement Symphony No. 5, recorded 1965. Somewhat n the
style of the Sibelius Seventh Symphony, the darkly airy score develops
its opening motives into an extended lament with woodwind interludes,
the darker explosions of color sounding like a film score by Alex
North. On the opposite end of the spectrum is the 1932 Miniature
Overture, recorded 1969 by Jorge Mester, a C Major contrapuntally
active piece whose brevity does not prevent its having a quirky, airy
development. The Peter Pan Fairy Tale for Orchestra (1956) owes less to
James M. Barrie than to the MacDowell Colony landscape of New Hampshire
for its never-land sense of rapture and timelessness.  In three
brief movements, the work is non-programmatic, simply three facile
segments of lithe energy recorded in 1960 by the ever-sympathetic
Robert Whitney. From the same time and venue comes the Notturno (1954)
recorded 1954 by Whitney, another elfin piece in the manner of a darker
Mendelssohn, here employing a chamber music sonority with selective
percussion to evoke moody nostalgia. Each of these performances is a
world premiere, the sound (mono and stereo) quite pointed, so the
audiophile and musicologist has here a disc of singular import.

–Gary Lemco

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