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Richard Kraus
MusicWeb International, November 2017

Anna Magdalena Kokits’s recital draws upon Toch’s works from 1923–1931. These are miniatures, with an hour-long program divided into forty-eight tracks. They include a sonata and six suites, with a variety often suggestive and sometimes elusive music. These pieces are quite consciously anti-romantic, in that they are pared down both musically and emotionally. These jewel-like utterances are too short to allow much musical development within movements, so the development happens among them. This world of miniatures is fanciful and sometimes quite direct, a kind of musical counterpart to the art of Paul Klee, where everything is clean and controlled.

The best-known piece in this program is the Juggler, one of the Op. 31 Burlesques. The pianist imitates a juggler, capturing that not-quite machine-like aspect of keeping tossed balls in the air. It is an irresistible image: will she drop the balls? The tone is detached, not mocking. Kokits tosses high and fast, and this is quite exciting. Toch was a fine pianist, and many of the pieces have this playful show-off quality. Many others, however, are quite restful. © 2017 MusicWeb International Read complete review

Grego Applegate Edwards
Gapplegate Classical-Modern Music Review, November 2017

These are a choice selection of works from the interwar years (1923–1931), when [Toch] changed his essentially romantic approach to a very contemporary one, mostly post-tonal or marginally tonal, filled with an energetic brilliance and sounding not quite like any other.

From the opening bars of the first work, “Burlesques” (1923), we know we are in the presence of a special sensibility. Chromatic and bitter-sweet, it is a distinctive and very pianistic world we enter, neither quite Hindemithian nor beholden to the Second Viennese School. The atonality in this period of Toch is a relative one, since one might ultimately tie down what one hears to a key center. And some of the music is unabashedly tonal. There is a great deal more to it though than some close or distant holding to a key or a tonal gravitation.

And that comes out in the phrasing and flow of the works, brought out so well in Ms. Kokits’ performances. They are extraordinarily artful, inspired and original. © 2017 Gapplegate Classical-Modern Music Review Read complete review

Richard Bratby
Gramophone, July 2017

…a surprisingly listenable programme—especially in performances as fresh and perceptive as these. © 2017 Gramophone Read complete review on Gramophone

Lynn René Bayley
The Art Music Lounge, June 2017

It’s possible that much of the warmth of this music emanates from the performer. Anna Magdalena Kokits has a very warm, almost relaxed style of playing, allowing individual notes to linger and written pauses to pause a fraction longer. But she also has a sparkling technique that allows her to play such works as the Burlesken No. 3 (“Der Jongleur: Muilto vivo”) with crystalline clarity and outstanding articulation. She’s the kind of pianist who doesn’t have to try very hard to make the music sing; it comes naturally to her.

…an utterly charming and unique composer, played in a charming manner by Kokits! © 2017 The Art Music Lounge Read complete review

Records International, June 2017

Everything here was written between 1923–31, half of the works being suites of very short character pieces, almost all of which are less than 90 seconds in length. Although there is enough atonality and “modern” harmonic writing to make it plain that we’re in the 20th century, the whole affect of these sets of pieces is that of similar Characterstücke by Schumann (the Small Town Pictures even have Schumannian titles). The sonata, three movements lasting barely eight minutes, is hardly more involved while the etudes are hardly less approachable harmonically and Toch, in all these pieces, relies first and foremost on melody. © 2017 Records International

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