A major piano composition from Busoni’s late years is the Toccata
, a stark and concentrated work at the beginning of which the composer, misquoting Frescobaldi, wrote ‘Non è senza difficoltà che si arriva al fine’ (‘One does not reach the end without difficulty’). It opens with a virtuoso Preludio
based on a motif from the opera Die Brautwahl
. Then follows a seven-section Fantasia
, with contrasting tempos, in which the lyrical theme entrusted to the Duchess of Parma in Doktor Faust
is heard twice. The concluding Ciaccona
, based on a four-bar energetic sarabande rhythm, culminates in two stretto sections. The second is quite striking, with octaves in both hands, flying in opposite directions.
from notes by Marc-André Roberge © 2013