T is for Toccata – Debussy’s Toccata, from Pour Le Piano

pour-le-pianoT is for Toccata, from the Italian toccare, meaning to touch; and T is for Tricky. Debussy’s Toccata, the final movement of his suite Pour Le Piano, is a sparkling finale to follow the Prélude and Sarabande; a virtuoso showpiece in the best toccata tradition. It was dedicated to  Nicolas Coronio, a wealthy amateur pianist who studied with Debussy.

Salle ErardThe première took place in the Salle Erard in 1902, performed by Ricardo Viñes. Here he is, talking about Debussy in a 1938 radio programme (partly translated):

Marked Vif and in C# minor, the opening flourish and related passages are shared by both hands playing a single melodic line. The texture gradually expands to include arpeggio figures, repeated LH chords and mysterious, legato harmonies, but semiquavers chatter incessantly throughout. A more relaxed, lyrical section which starts in F Major, gradually grows to an ecstatic climax; then, through a convoluted series of harmonic twists and turns, the music returns to the opening material, transposed into a triumphant C# Major.

Health Warning – this piece is demanding; it takes stamina and drive, and needs strength and speed. But it is a joy to play!

Here is Gulda –


This entry was posted in Composers, Music, The French Connection - An A-Z of Debussy's music and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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