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Toccata

Songs


Music by: Alberto Evaristo Ginastera
Arrangement by: Keith Emerson

An adaptation of Ginastera's 1st Piano Concerto, 4th Movement: Toccata Concertata

The orignal song was intended for an orchestra to play, but this interpretation narrows it down to a performance by three people, without the use of overdubbing.


Alberto Evaristo Ginastera (1916 - 1983)

"Keith Emerson has beautifully caught the mood of my piece."


Ginastera's piano concerto was written during the first months of 1961 under a commission of the Koussevitzky Foundation in the Library Of Congress and dedicated to the memory of Serge and Natalie Koussevitsky. It received it's world premiere during the second Interamerican Festival held in Washington on April 22nd, 1961, with the National Symphony Orchestra conducted by Howard Mitchell and the pianist Joao Carlos Martins playing the soloist part.
Although the concerto is divided into the four traditional movements. The fourth and last movement, 'Toccata Concertata' with strong and vigorous rhythms, is a real piece of 'Bravura' in which there is a constant dialogue between piano and orchestra. The form recalls the seven section rondo form, preceeded by a short introduction and followed by a coda.


Keith Emerson:
"In 1969 I was in Los Angeles doing a concert with the Philharmonic. It was a mixed media thing in the days when mixed media was new. I was playing with The Nice then and we were waiting in the dressing room to go on for our number when I heard some incredible music drifting down from the stage. It was Ginastera's First Piano Concerto. Afterwards, I spoke with the soloist because I immediately wanted to record the piece. Later, when ELP was formed, I showed Carl and Greg the arrangement, and they wanted to play it too. We were very excited about the recording we had made, but we ran into problems with Ginastera's publishers Boosey and Hawkes. Finally, I realized the best thing to do was to speak with Mr. Ginastera himself. I met him at his home in Switzerland and after the dinner I showed him the arrangement, and began to talk about it. He didn't speak much English and his wife had to translate everything. Finally, Ginastera said, '...please, just play the tape!'. After he had listened to them all the way through, he turned to his wife in amazement. 'Diabolic!!' he exclaimed. I was terrified. I thought he hated it or thought I was the devil or something. But then, he smiled. His wife turned to me and said 'Alberto says you have a very talented band and he very much likes your version. He says that is the way his music should sound and will be contacting his publishers tomorrow giving his permission for you to release it. No one has been able to capture his music like that before!' I returned to England with Ginastera's blessing and the song was finished and included on the album.
Carl said that he wanted to have a drum solo which would be a little different than just putting it on to the end of another number. I rang him on the phone and played it for him, and he said 'That's amazing!' We had a group rehearsal and I played it for them on the organ, and that was the start of it. I thought the forthcoming album was the time to try and approach this piece of music. It was very testing for all of us. Greg didn't read music, and Carl read it to a certain extent, but he wasn't able to apply piano music to playing drums. So it was really like going through the whole thing bar by bar. It was music by mathematics for them. Carl learned it really by counting, and if you watch any videos of ELP playing Toccata you'll see his lips move as he's counting one - two - three - four - five - six - seven - eight."


Carl Palmer:
"It was one of those pieces that took forever to rehearse. It was very, very difficult to follow the tune. It was a piece of music that we all liked instantaneously, it was something that was definitely right for the band. We used the very first electronic drums on Toccata. A lot of people thought those sounds came from the keyboard, but that's the drums, it's not the keyboards. All those weird and wonderful atmospheric, avantgarde sounds that you hear were all triggered by the drums. They were all preset, recorded and synthesized sounds which I had. It was just a way of trying to move my instrument forward. I only ever used them on that one piece of music. And that’s what it was all about: being totally experimental and dealing with technology."




Aquarius TV show on October 21, 1973. A real oddity, this clip features Carl alone on the quasi-scientific/futuristic TV show, displaying his percussive skills on the band's version af Ginastera's 'Toccata'. You can watch this video on the 'Beyond The Beginning' DVD.





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