Mstislav Rostropovich - Frescobaldi - Toccata04:44

Mstislav Rostropovich - Frescobaldi - Toccata

Girolamo Frescobaldi (1583 - 1643) was a prominant composer of keyboard music. He was a child prodigy and specialized in organ playing. Frescobaldi had contact with several important composers which included Claudio Monteverdi, Orlando de Lassus, and Carlo Gesualdo. Frescobaldi focused more on the composition of instrumental music than other genres.


Toccatas were pieces intended to show the skill of the performer. They are typically written for a solo keyboard instrument and have more freedom in form. Frescobaldi's toccatas featured more drastic contrasts and increasingly complex rhythms. He used the Renaissance idea and greatly enhanced them.

This version of the toccata was arranged by cellist Gaspar Cassado. Typical of baroque style it starts with an extended introduction in a grave manner, but then goes into an active, light style that is the toccata. These two sections will alternate through the piece. Frescobaldi gives clear direction in his pieces using harmonic progressions that emphasize cadences. He also makes great use of imitation and fragmentation, something like what would be known later as developmental variation. 


Comparing Frescobaldi's toccata to the one featured in Monteverdi's L' 'Orfeo, it is much more virtuosic in nature and goes through many more developments than Monteverdi's. In L' 'Orfeo, the toccata is more like a fanfare and was played before the beginning of the opera. The term toccata would become attached more strictly to keyboard music later on. 


This is a great piece of music that has been arranged for cello, that's pretty much why I chose it. I think that it represents the toccata genre well with its technical challenges for both the cello and piano/organ parts. 


John Caldwell. "Toccata." Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online. Oxford University Press, accessed April 28, 2014,

Anthony Newcomb. "Frescobaldi's Toccatas and Their Stylistic Ancestry." Proceedings of the Royal Musical Association, Vol. 111, (Taylor & Francis, Ltd., 1984 - 1985), pp. 28-44 Accessed on April 28, 2014.

Wiki reference: Monteverdi: Toccata from "L'Orfeo"



Ad blocker interference detected!

Wikia is a free-to-use site that makes money from advertising. We have a modified experience for viewers using ad blockers

Wikia is not accessible if you’ve made further modifications. Remove the custom ad blocker rule(s) and the page will load as expected.