Dmitri Kabalevsky: Toccatina from 30 Pieces for Children, Op. 27, No. 12

One of Kabalevsky’s best-known and certainly one of his most-performed pieces, this Toccatina is a fun show piece.

• A toccata is a virtuoso composition that shows brilliance, often with imitative features. The Italian diminutive “toccatina” is a miniature version. It is by nature a free form. However, this particular toccata is almost in a rondo form.

• The first four measures function as a quasi-rondo theme, repeated in measures 13–16 and 35–38.

• Kabalevsky unifies the piece with the rhythmic idea of the sustained left-hand melody and short staccato triads in the right hand in an inversion of the harmony implied by the left hand, using one of two patterns.

• Even in this free form, the composer has a strict rhythmic and textural unity.

• Notice that most of the time the top note of the right-hand chord mirrors an octave above the left-hand melody. The technique required is independence of hands: the left hand playing smoothly and the right hand playing staccato throughout.

• There are three sections of the piece where the left hand is not marked with phrasing: measures 31–34, 39–42, and 45–49. In these spots the left hand should be deliberately played with less legato than the rest of the piece.

• Use the dynamics to create an overall arch in the structure of the piece.

• The composer indicates no pedaling; the piece is best performed without pedal.

• Maintain an evenness of touch in the staccato chords of the right hand, and also ensure that all three fingers go down together and evenly to create a crisp chord.

• This piece should be practiced at a slow tempo, and then worked up to an allegretto.

• There is a danger in performance of going too fast. Allegretto is a contained tempo. Do not dash through the piece.

–Richard Walters

Introduction to Kabalevsky’s Music
Richard Walters and Joshua Parman
Beethoven and the Bagatelle
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