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Milken Archive - Toch: Cantata Of The Bitter Herbs, Etc

Release Date: 03/16/2004 
Label:  Naxos   Catalog #: 8559417   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Ernst Toch
Performer:  Theodore BikelCarol MeyerRichard ClementElizabeth Shammash,   ... 
Conductor:  Gerard Schwarz
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Seattle Symphony OrchestraCzech Philharmonic OrchestraPrague Philharmonic Chorus
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 5 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

"Fetters fell, the captive rose. Old is the memory of Israel's escape from Egypt. Told and retold for thousands of years, the story has given strength to the weary, hope to the disheartened." Thus begins Ernst Toch's Cantata of the Bitter Herbs, a unique musical-dramatic work begun during the great German-Jewish composer's forced exile to the United States, and premiered in Los Angeles in the midst of World War Two. Toch's retelling of the Passover story is cast as an appeal for universal justice and liberation from oppression. The composer's ultimately triumphant vision is set to luminous late Romantic music and includes a solo quartet that recalls the beauty of the famous trio from Der Rosenkavalier.

“His music is
Read more solidly constructed and distinctive... The symphonic accompaniment for the Narrator’s enumeration of the ten plagues is quite evocative... There’s some positively incandescent string writing toward the close of ‘Psalm 126,’ the work’s spiritual center... [Toch’s Symphony No. 5] is intense and uncompromising music... harmonically ambiguous and texturally adventuresome...” — The Absolute Sound (Aug./Sep. 2004)

“...an easily accessible yet beautiful album... [Cantata of the Bitter Herbs]...highly impressive in both melodic ingenuity and musical power... A highly recommended CD, featuring music of a composer who well warrants being salvaged from oblivion.” — Omer Shomrony, Jerusalem Post (Israel)

“...a bold, melodic cantata for orchestra, voices and narration. It is one of the finest works in the ongoing Milken Archive of American Jewish Music series.” — Aaron Howard, Jewish Herald-Voice

“The Cantata is dramatic, appealing... Its beauty is in its stirring simplicity and the effective way the narration is woven into the music... Schwarz directs with emotion, and the Czech Philharmonic and Prague Philharmonic Choir are stellar, Theodore Bikel’s narration is polished story-telling.” — Roger Hecht, American Record Guide "It has never been so captivating as in this Seattle Symphony performance. Gerard Schwarz’s orchestra plays with even more beauty and color; every aspect is superb here, and the drama is sustained for the full 25 minutes. The disc is recommended to all listeners for the symphony... [Jeptha, Symphony No. 5] is a superbly dramatic piece, harmonically complex yet thoroughly accessible... Its continuing hold on the listener is undeniable.” — James H. North, Fanfare, Sept./Oct. 2004

“[Jephta] ...a feelingful, colorful, brilliantly crafted piece... a rousing performance...” — Turok’s Choice

Click here to view all available releases in the Milken Archive Series at ArkivMusic.
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Works on This Recording

Symphony no 5, Op. 89 "Jephtha" by Ernst Toch
Conductor:  Gerard Schwarz
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Seattle Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1963; USA 
Cantata of Bitter Herbs, Op. 65 by Ernst Toch
Performer:  Theodore Bikel (Spoken Vocals), Carol Meyer (Soprano), Richard Clement (Tenor),
Elizabeth Shammash (Mezzo Soprano), Ted Christopher (Baritone)
Conductor:  Gerard Schwarz
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Czech Philharmonic Orchestra,  Prague Philharmonic Chorus
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1938; USA 
Language: English 

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