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Toccata in E Minor, BWV 914
- “Toccata”: meaning “to touch” (“toccare” in Italian), a highly virtuosic keyboard genre
- Bach’s toccatas: combination of German toccata style (more serious counterpoint and complex structure) and Italian toccata style (more showy and flamboyant), with alternating free-style (prelude) and strict structure (fugue) – “stylus phantasticus”
- Basically two sets of prelude and fugue
- Seven toccatas in total, this being the shortest of all
- This toccata is also the only one that starts with a slow section
- Four sections in this toccata:
- A prelude in a rather improvisatory style resembling the composer’s later organ work such as Toccata and Fugue in D minor
- A little “fugato”, a double fugue for four voices, lively and rhythmic,
- Adagio: recitative style, combination of Italian aria and Northern German fantasia style, highly improvisatory
- A final three-voice fugue with an extended subject, in allegro, idiomatic violin writing, also thought to be originally written for organ, showing tremendous influence from Italian toccata writing (“Naples Manuscript”)
A more “liberal” rendition of the toccata:
A lesser known performer yet with another beautiful version of the same toccata:
More background details and analysis in our membership area post.