Aram Khachaturian Composer
Toccata in Eb-, Op.11Performances: 4
Musicology:Khachaturian composed his Toccata in 1932, while he studied composition with Myaskovsky at the Moscow Conservatory. Khachaturian's work shows the blending of local color with the greater "Russian" school, a blend supported by the Soviet ideology on music education. The Toccata is pianistic and brilliant in its use of the piano, while aspects of its melodic and rhythmic material are traceable to Armenian folk music.
Toccata in Eb-, Op.11Key: Eb-
Genre: Other Keyboard
Pr. Instrument: Piano
A powerful rhythmic drive establishes itself from the very beginning of the Toccata, which begins Allegro marcatissimo. Khachaturian repeats four-beat rhythmic units (a single measure of 4/4) four times each, accelerating from single quarter notes to a dotted eighth note figure to bundles of sixteenth notes. With each repetition he moves to another harmony, but the rhythm remains insistent, and the melodic material consists almost exclusively of leaps of a fourth and a third. Thus, rhythm becomes the salient feature of the opening section. Sustained block chords break the motion and prove to be part of a transition to a new section that begins first with triplet repeated notes and moves to a swirling triplet figure. Repetition again takes over as leaps of various sizes become the only variable melodic material. After a few harmonic changes and some rapidly descending arpeggios the triplet flourish begins again, eventually crashing to a halt after more descending arpeggios land in the low bass.
The central section, marked Andante espressivo, provides a drastic contrast to the beginning of the piece. Expressive flourishes in the left hand employ modal scales evocative of Armenian folk music. Again, repetitive figures in the right hand dominate the texture, which reduces to a single repeated note as the opening tempo resumes in preparation for the return of section A.
Khachaturian skips the first few measures of the A section and makes a few other alterations during its reprise, but the bulk of the material is there, now fitted with a strong close based on the beginning of slow section.
© John Palmer, Rovi