Toccata (from Concertorama)
Date of Composition: 1983 / 1996
for piano and pre-recorded backing tracks
PROGRAM NOTES: The Toccata for piano and tape made its first appearance in 1984 as a section in my Concertorama, a fantasy for piano-synthesizer soloist and orchestra. The tape part of the present version is essentially, mutatis mutandi, the orchestra part of the original work. In design it is made up of six sections, each modulating up a half step, from D-flat to F-sharp, with a final cadence on a G major chord. With each change of tonal color, the piano part features a different keyboard idiom. This varied approach to the keyboard, along with the constancy of the rhythm, suggest the title, Toccata. In such constancy (wall-to-wall eighth notes) the musical texture becomes the predominant element of change, with single accented notes, brief motives, and syncopated chords leaping to the audible surface.
The first performance of the Toccata as part of the complete Concertorama took place at an outdoor concert in Hartford, Connecticut on the 4th of July, 1984. Yvar Mikhashoff was the soloist with Bernard Rubenstein conducting the Hartford Symphony. An earlier version for piano and tape, created on a primitive computer-driven synthesizer, was withdrawn from my work list. I now welcome the piece back into the fold with its new, updated electronic sounds, programmed early in 1996 with the help of my assistant, Finn Thorrild Byrhard. -James Sellars