Notes and Editorial Reviews
Violin Sonata No. 1,
Spectrum Concerts Berlin
NAXOS 8.559716 (77:24)
Ernst Toch’s 1936
String Trio is stern and harsh, perhaps reflecting his life (escape from Nazi Germany and resettlement in the United States). The music is tough, the harmonies and the string writing astringent. Which is reflected in the performance as well: Are the performers wise to emphasize the difficulties? Or would they have been better advised to soften the edges for the listening public? Your call. Nevertheless, the trio comes across as a powerful piece, well worth suffering through the effort to get to know it.
from 1950 could not be more different from the trio: Clarinet and piano coast calmly along for three-and-a-half minutes of simple, solidly tonal music at a constant
The 1929 Cello Sonata cannot decide whether to be serious or light. The opening
is something like a playful fugue, with the piano doing almost everything; the
develops into a wild tarantella, with the piano again leading the way.
The playful 1925 Divertimento is for violin and cello. Its three short movements are brilliantly played by violinist Annette von Hehn (no longer the astringent instrumentalist of the trio) and cellist Jens Peter Maintz, who has more opportunity to shine than in the sonata.
The 1913 Violin Sonata is a fully Romantic Brahmsian outpouring with a hint of Richard Strauss, but it occasionally breaks out of the mold into some more experimental pages. It’s a gorgeous piece—one can understand why it leads off on the booklet’s cover. Once again the piano takes center stage; pianist Katya Apekisheva plays gloriously, and von Hehn holds up her end of the bargain.
There have been other recordings of some of these pieces, but I’ve not heard any that particularly impressed me. This whole CD is interesting, and the violin sonata seals an enthusiastic recommendation.
FANFARE: James H. North
Works on This Recording
Adagio Elegiaco by Ernst Toch
Spectrum Concerts Berlin
Period: 20th Century
String Trio, Op. 63: I. Allegro
String Trio, Op. 63: II. Adagio
String Trio, Op. 63: III. Allegro
Cello Sonata, Op. 50: I. Allegro commodo
Cello Sonata, Op. 50: II. Intermezzo, "Die Spinne": Andante
Cello Sonata, Op. 50: III. Allegro
Divertimento, Op. 37, No. 1: I. Flott
Divertimento, Op. 37, No. 1: II. Fliessend, sehr zart
Divertimento, Op. 37, No. 1: III. Frisch
Violin Sonata No. 1, Op. 21: I. Allegro non troppo
Violin Sonata No. 1, Op. 21: II. Adagio non troppo
Violin Sonata No. 1, Op. 21: III. Allegro giocoso
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