365 Days, 365 Files: Aram Khachaturian – Toccata

If you’re an intermediate piano player who wants to sound more of a virtuoso than you are, then learn Aram Khachaturian’s Toccata for Piano.

I pretty much conned everyone in the high school marching band that I was some prodigious musician by playing the Khachaturian Toccata. Hell, I even fooled a scholarship committee into putting me into making me finalist for some dog-and-pony TV thing.

Despite the flurry of notes in the piece, the pianists’ hands don’t really move much, so fingering is a cinch. Even the descending figure right before the slow section is little more than a series of broken chords with a half-step flourish.

There are portions of the piece I still can’t navigate, and the slow middle section requires some detailed fingering. But for a piece that’s not difficult to learn, it certainly makes you sound better than you are.

I never found a recording of the piece when I was learning it. Khachaturian doesn’t command the kind of shelf space as Sergei Prokofieff or Dmitri Shostakovich, and back in high school, I had to be selective about what I spent my money on. It wasn’t until I signed up for eMusic that I sought the piece out.

The recording provided here is performed by Alberto Portugheis, and under skilled hands, Khachaturian’s Toccata is an impressive piece. If it can make a bad player sound decent, it certainly makes an exception player sound effortless.

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