TOCH Symphony No. 3. HINDEMITH Mathis der Maler. MARTIN: Petite Symphonie Concertante.
Pittsburgh Symphony Orch/William Steinberg, cond. Orch/Leopold Stokowski (Martin)
EMI Classics 65868 (M) (ADD) TT: 76:55

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Ernest Toch's Symphony No. 3, Op. 75 was composed in 1955 for William Steinberg and the Pittsburgh Symphony and premiered by them December 2nd of that year. Strange scoring provides some rather unusual sounds. Two instruments were constructed for the occasion: one called a "hisser"--a tank of carbon dioxide which produces sound by the release of a valve, the other a contraption filled with wooden balls set in motion by a rotating crank. Other seldom-heard instruments: Hammond organ, glass harmonica and glass chimes. There are three movements to the symphony forming, according to the composer, "a ballistic curve with an initial impulse, a steady line, and then a decline." The symphony was well-received at its premiere, receiving a Pulitzer Prize in 1956, but apparently then fell out of favor. This recording, made in 1956 in Pittsburgh's Syria Mosque, long has been prized by audio buffs, particularly for the way it sounded on open-reel stereo tape. Now we have it, the only recording ever made of the 28-minute work, sounding better than ever in this superb transfer in EMI's Matrix 24 series. Also included is Steinberg's fine performance of Hindemith's Mathis der Maler, and another valuable performance on CD for the first time, Leopold Stokowski's 1957 recording of Frank Martin's Petite Symphonie Concertante. Don't let this CD slip by.

 R.E.B. (Nov. 1999)