Posts Tagged ‘review’

A review on the Steinbock Toccata op. 94/B by Fulvio Caldini

Thursday, July 15th, 2010

Some time ago, when I was looking for new contemporary material, I came across the Steinbock Toccata op.94/B by Fulvio Caldini, written in 2002. This piece, warmly recommended to me by my dear friend and mentor, Prof. Karel van Steenhoven from the Amsterdam Loeki Stardust Quartet, had immensely surprised me.

Cladini, born in 1959 in Arezzo, Italy, has started as a pianist and organist. He has written hundreds of pieces for many different settings, and as far as I know, about 60 of them are for different recorder ensemble settings. Though many are basically the same piece arranged in different settings, this is still a figure that puts him, in my opinion, in the list of important recorder composers of the 20th century.

This piece, the Steinbock Toccata op. 94/B, is a piece many would categorize as a “minimalistic” piece, using very few elements of expression to transmit it’s musical idea, and very often repeating rhythmical and melodical patterns over and over again. The beauty of a “minimalistic” piece lies consequently very much in its structure, being a main element of the “story telling” in this style of composing. In that aspect, the Steinbock Toccata is wonderfully composed – having a clear and interesting structure that really tells a story. And it goes as follows:

The piece opens with a 7 measure theme, repeating itself again and again. However, at some point between the repetitions, a foreign element is introduced. This element, starting as a short 2 measure element, grows longer and longer every time it appears, until it starts “eating up” the first theme. Meaning, the first theme starts loosing bars and becomes shorter and shorter while the foreign element gains bars and gradually turns into a second theme. This process comes to an end in bar 114 when the first theme loses it’s last bar and the second theme appears “victorious” in its full 12 measure version. However, at this point, when the second theme starts repeating itself, again, another foreign element is introduced between the repetitions. Like before, this element grows longer with every repetition while the main (second) theme grows shorter and shorter. In bar 253, this new element overthrows the second theme and claims the thrown as third main theme, 9 measures long. As it starts to repeat itself this time, like the main themes from before, it starts “eating” itself up, becoming shorter and shorter every time. Finally, in bar 297, after the third theme shrinks to a single bar, the first main theme appears again in its full version, followed by the 2 other main themes bringing this short piece to a happy end.

When I perform this piece, I really try to emphasize this structure as much as I can. I do everything in my power to differentiate between a main theme and a foreign element. I try to show the turning points, when an element turns from a secondary element to a main theme. And then, in the ending, I really like to show the point where the 3 themes come together one after the other as a moment of great joy. You can see a live performance I had with this piece in Germany in -

Being fast and rhythmical, and having such a clear and interesting structure, I believe this piece to be a great “ice-breaking” piece in a program, and even a very cool and effective anchor. I hope you enjoy it as I did!