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Toccata in D Minor, Op. #11

Sergei Prokofiev

Sergei Prokofiev's Toccata in D Minor Op. 11 was written in 1912. It is a further development of the toccata form, which has been used by composers such as Johann Sebastian Bach and Robert Schumann. Other composers of well-known toccatas include Maurice Ravel, Dmitri Kabalevsky and Aram Khachaturian.

Prokofiev's Toccata starts off with a perpetual repetition of the note D, interchanged between the right hand (which plays the single note) and the left hand (which plays the same note but with the lower octave as well). After a brief development, there are chromatic leaps in the left hand whilst the right hand plays a repeated figuration. The two hands soon switch positions, although the leaps still continue for a while.

A series of split chromatic thirds leads upwards until a descending melody (in A) with chromatic third accompaniments begins, with the left hand traveling in contrary motion upwards. This leads back to the main repetition 'theme' before a very short pause. Both hands soon play a weaving series of the right hand's repeated figuration from the start, before the split chromatic thirds pattern reappears. This leads more violently to the descending melody pattern, but this time in D, before the D repetition 'theme' reappears, this time in alternating octaves in both hands. The toccata slows down and halts temporarily before a chromatic rising scale leads to octave exhortations, followed by a glissando sweep up the keyboard to end on the top D.

This piece is a showpiece that is very popular with virtuoso pianists, and has been recorded by many. According to the biography of the composer by David Gutman (Prokofiev: The Illustrated Lives of the Great Composers, Omnibus Press (London), 1990), Prokofiev himself had trouble playing it because his technique, while good, was not quite enough to master the piece

recorded/sequenced on the Reuter opus #822 pipe organ, April 12, 2008

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