as published in MusicWeb International:

Toccata here presents three representative orchestral works, in premiere recordings, composed between 1988 and 2011. Varadero Memories is the earliest, programmed centrally, an ‘abstract recollection’ of the Cuban beach town where the composer holidayed with his family as a boy. Rising oscillating phrases offer plenty of active rhythmic figures but also, and crucially, a sense of contemplative space, the quietude of which sets into relief the earlier seascape-seeming musical motor. There are some intriguing sonorous and colourful wind flecks, and also a hint, real or imagined, of Bergian angst toward the end. Auschwitz (nunca se olvidarán) followed in 1994, its subtitle meaning, in English, ‘they will never be forgotten’. This is a meditation for chorus and orchestra though the tone clusters with which it opens – and which recur – are explicitly non-violent in their impact, and point to the work’s often internalised landscape. During the course of its 20-minute length there are eight moments when solo instruments interrupt the music, each going through the 12-tone row, but never in a doctrinaire way. There are also solo vocal and choral contributions (‘nunca se olvidarán’), their irregularity especially notable. One section witnesses a moment of orchestral rocking implacability directed against the choral forces. An expressive but rigorous work it ends in consolation, in memorialisation.

The final work is a more directly personalised memorial given that it’s called In Memoriam Earle Brown, the composer and close associate of Morton Feldman, as well as of Garcia. The latter even goes so far as to employ some of Brown’s own techniques in this homage. With its colouristic intensity and its ‘ad lib’ responsibilities devolved to the conductor – he can, at points, sequence music in any order he chooses – it’s music the generates its own texture rather more than following the dictates of architecture.

In a well-judged recording, José Serebrier is the conductor entrusted with those ad libitumresponsibilities, which he discharges with powerful authority. Throughout the programme he directs the choral and orchestral forces with discipline and musical sympathy and understanding.

Jonathan Woolf

Link to review here: