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#1032523 - 04/10/05 07:42 AM Advice on Khachaturian's Toccata
MaryAnna Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/03/04
Posts: 400
Loc: Florida
I'm working on Khachaturian's Toccata and got the bright idea to search the archives to see if I could glean any information on how to approach it. I figured out a better fingering for the hardest part recently and was suddenly able to play the piece much better. I thought, "Hey! Why don't you tap into the collective unconscious of all those pianists who have come before? Maybe they'll have answers for the passages that are still causing you trouble."

So what did the search uncover? This Toccata has been mentioned a half-dozen times, but the most detailed comment came from some sneering professional who said that it was mostly played by older teenagers since it's impressive and sounds harder than it is. "There's better music out there," was the way someone dismissed everything Khacaturian ever did.

Clearly I stumbled into the realm of the Gifted and Talented, since it has been many a moon since I was an older teenager. So how about it? Anybody have any wisdom to offer on this piece? Or on the futility of trying to be the best pianist you can be, while raising a family and building a non-musical career? Because tilting at "futility windmills" is what I do best. \:D
_________________________
Mary Anna Evans
Author of the Faye Longchamp mysteries
http://www.maryannaevans.com
Blogging at maryannaevans@blogspot.com

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#1032524 - 04/10/05 09:24 AM Re: Advice on Khachaturian's Toccata
DameMyra Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/21/04
Posts: 2031
Loc: South Jersey
Dear Mary Anna,

The Toccata is a wonderful piece of music. That's why so many people play it. (I played it at a local competition, which I won, many, many years ago, when I was fifteen.) It is written very pianistically, lies well under the hand and is very effective in performance. Yes, it is one of those pieces that sounds much more difficult than it actually is.

Many younger pianists perform it, sometimes not very well. Because of this, it has been dismissed as a piece of music, like the much-hackneyed Fantasie Impromptu. I once advised a student in a forum not to use it as an audition piece for college becuase of the prejudice against it.

However, as I said before it is a wonderful piece of musc. Some things to consider when learning it.

Be careful of your tempo in the two outer sections. Keep it consistent. (I have heard many people speed up and slow down through those sections depending on how difficult or easy a section is.) Watch over-pedaling, especially in the first page and a half.

I found the middle section the most difficult, both technically and musically. You need to pay attention to your rhythm in this section. (Counting out loud when you learn it will help.) There are a few bars of cross rhythms that need to be worked out, also. Although this section has quite a bit of freedom and rubato, you still need to keep a pulse going throughout to propel you to the final section. (The piece can easily become boring and die in this middle section.)

Finally, because there are so many big moments and climaxes in this piece, everything needs to be balanced so you go out with a bang.

As far as wisdom on the "futility of trying to be the best pianist you can be", I say keep on tilting. I went back to taking lessons after not touching the piano for 35 years. I couldn't be happier.
_________________________
Private Piano Teacher
MTNA/NJMTA/SJMTA

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#1032525 - 04/10/05 11:38 AM Re: Advice on Khachaturian's Toccata
MaryAnna Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/03/04
Posts: 400
Loc: Florida
Thanks so much, DameMyra for your very helpful advice!

 Quote:
Originally posted by DameMyra:
Dear Mary Anna,

The Toccata is a wonderful piece of music. It is written very pianistically, lies well under the hand and is very effective in performance.

That's my impression exactly. I'm playing some similar pieces, but the Toccata "feels" better and plays more easily.[/b]

Be careful of your tempo in the two outer sections. Keep it consistent.

I can already tell that tempo is my waterloo for this piece, but I'm trying to make friends with my metronome.[/b]

Watch over-pedaling, especially in the first page and a half.

The pedaling markings are confusing to me. On my edition, there's a pedal marking at the very beginning with no corresponding "end pedal" marking. It looks as if you're supposed to jam the pedal down and hold it there for the first page-and-a-half. I've just been pedaling when the chord changes, which still might not be enough. Another troublesome section for pedaling is the andante section in the middle. It sounds muddy to me, but I'm still working out the pesky details (like the tenth-lets!) so the sound may improve as I start getting more of the notes right.[/b]

As far as wisdom on the "futility of trying to be the best pianist you can be", I say keep on tilting. I went back to taking lessons after not touching the piano for 35 years. I couldn't be happier.

I can tell! I never completely abandoned my piano, but I'm enjoying my recent "re-commitment." Thanks so much for your help![/b]
[/QB]
_________________________
Mary Anna Evans
Author of the Faye Longchamp mysteries
http://www.maryannaevans.com
Blogging at maryannaevans@blogspot.com

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#1032526 - 04/10/05 02:48 PM Re: Advice on Khachaturian's Toccata
Phlebas Offline


Registered: 01/02/03
Posts: 4654
Loc: New York City
Since you write mysteries, did you ever read what Raymond Chandler (via Phillip Marlowe) had to say about Khachaturian? Something like, 'The radio was playing Khachaturian imitating a tractor factory. He called it a violin concerto. I call it a broken fan belt.'

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#1032527 - 04/10/05 03:07 PM Re: Advice on Khachaturian's Toccata
NewKFlomTo Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/09/05
Posts: 54
Loc: U.K
Phlebas, I agree, Khachaturian is a bit crap.
_________________________
Igitur qui desiderat pacem, praeparet bellum.

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#1032528 - 04/11/05 01:17 AM Re: Advice on Khachaturian's Toccata
MaryAnna Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/03/04
Posts: 400
Loc: Florida
 Quote:
Originally posted by Phlebas:
Since you write mysteries, did you ever read what Raymond Chandler (via Phillip Marlowe) had to say about Khachaturian? Something like, 'The radio was playing Khachaturian imitating a tractor factory. He called it a violin concerto. I call it a broken fan belt.' [/b]
That was a great line--classic golden-era tough- guy stuff. But, um, don't you think Marlowe would have said that about any twentieth-century composer? Heck. In the appropriate mood, he might have said something snarly about whatever was blaring out of the radio. Though, being an artist, I imagine he could have found a unique way to insult each composer. Perhaps a Bach fugue would have been a dripping faucet. No. Make that three competing dripping faucets.
_________________________
Mary Anna Evans
Author of the Faye Longchamp mysteries
http://www.maryannaevans.com
Blogging at maryannaevans@blogspot.com

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#1032529 - 04/11/05 01:43 PM Re: Advice on Khachaturian's Toccata
Phlebas Offline


Registered: 01/02/03
Posts: 4654
Loc: New York City
Anyway, back to Khachaturian.
I like the toccata alot, although I've heard many bad performances of it. The bad performances were always a) too bangy, and b) not rhythmic.
You should try to follow the dynamics carefully - don't play forte as fortissimo, play piano where indicated, etc. Where it's percussive, bring that out, and where it's lyrical - the middle section - bring that out.

Sorry I can't be more help, but it's been about 20 years since I've seen the score. Ruth Laredo has a good recording of it in her CD titled "My Second Recital."

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/det...nce&s=classical

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#1032530 - 04/12/05 07:02 AM Re: Advice on Khachaturian's Toccata
apple* Offline


Registered: 01/01/03
Posts: 19862
Loc: Kansas
years ago someone showed me how to play it.. no music, just an explanation and I learned much more of it than when I actually read the music.. It is very accessible if you can see the patterns... i.e. finger patterns of 5,3,1 then hitting the next black key. People think you are a concert pianist when you play it for them.
_________________________
accompanist/organist.. a non-MTNA teacher to a few

love and peace, ├Ľun (apple in Estonian)

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#1032531 - 04/12/05 08:14 AM Re: Advice on Khachaturian's Toccata
Waterfall Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/07/04
Posts: 293
Loc: North Carolina
I love the Khatchaturian Toccata. I played it my freshman year of college. Yes, I did find it easier than it sounds, but "easy" is in the eye of the beholder.

Don't make the mistake of banging too much and playing it too fast. It's supposed to be fast, but it's tempting to race through hurriedly through it (at least it was for me when I was a freshman wanting to show off!).

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