It is good to have Toccata Classics available in North America at last, and these three releases illustrate what this can mean to the discophile who has everything -- or thinks he has. Martin Anderson, the British music critic whose Toccata Press has been doing a similar service as a publishing house, created this label to explore the generally unexplored: music regarded, at least in some quarters, as unjustly neglected. The material is vetted (and edited as needed) by acknowledged authorities, the performances are more than competent, the sound quality is quite good, and the documentation is first-rate.
The six brief string symphonies by Josef Myslivecek, il divino boemo, so admired by Mozart and his contemporaries, are works of real substance that would grace any concert season, and the orchestra in Kazakhstan may counter the foolish impression of that country created by that irritatingly popular movie.
Tchaikovskys pupil and confidant Sergei Taneyev has not gone unnoticed here -- his symphonies and choral works have been recorded -- but the two movements he completed of his only piano concerto have much to offer, as do the various keyboard works. In addition to the two very competent pianists performing as such, there is the bonus of the famous Vladimir Ashkenazy in a cameo appearance as narrator in the brief piano duet composed for Tchaikovskys 52nd birthday.
The mammoth Cello Concerto by Donald Francis Tovey, running nearly an hour, shows the author of the invaluable "Essay in Musical Analysis" to have been a composer of great originality and substance worth exploring further.
All of these CDs are lovely surprises, and they create confident expectations for more of the same.
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