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TOCH: Cantata of the Bitter Herbs / Jephta

Composer(s):Toch, Ernst
Period(s) 20th Century
Genre Classical Music
Category Choral - SacredOrchestral
Catalogue 8.559417
Label Naxos
Quality   320kbps
Download and Stream

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 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.


Review By Penguin Guide,January 2009

What an interesting and rewarding composer Toch is! The Cantata of the Bitter Herbs for narrator, soloist, chorus and orchestra comes from 1938, four years after he had left Nazi Germany to settle in the United States. It is neo-romantic and at times even Straussian (he had, incidentally, gone with Strauss to Florence in 1934 to a musical conference). No doubt prompted by the death of his mother in Vienna, it is a work of much inventive resource and undoubted expressive eloquence. The Fifth of his seven Symphonies comes from 1962-3 and, like the Cantata, is based on Exodus. It is subtitled ‘Rhapsodic Poem’ and is altogether freer in style than Nos. 6 and 7, to which he turned in the last year of his life. Both works are of



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