Toccami l’anima – Bucharest Early Music Festival
Toccami l’anima

Toccami l’anima

Starts from: November 16, 2017

Start Time 7:00 pm End Time8:30 pm

Str. Alexandru D. Xenopol 2

Thursday, 16th of November 2017, 7.00 pm, Anglican Church Bucharest

The “Toccami l’anima” recital is dedicated to the Italian solo harpsichord repertoire beginning with the compositional style of Marco Antonio Cavazzoni and including the early compositions of Johann Sebastian Bach.

In Italy the harpsichord is the instrument for which a lot has been written as early as the 15th century. The entire harpsichord literature culminated with the works of Girolamo Frescobaldi. His influence reached also the Germanic area, originally through Johann Jakob Froberger (his student). Bach himself was influenced by the new Italian compositional style which he borrowed and further developed in his works.

Although there were composers and theorists such as Bernardo Pasquini who often employed the term tastare (meaning ‘to feel’), seemingly the most frequently used term for keyboard instrument interpretation in the Italian culture was toccare. Gradually this gave birth to a distinct musical genre called toccata. In all circumstances toccata refers to compositions for keyboard instruments. Being regarded as an improvisatory form for a large number of composers dealing with this musical genre, toccata was a means of rendering the technical qualities and interpretative virtuosity of keyboard instruments. The methods of realization of the toccata from a composition perspective are to be found over time not only in works bearing an explicit title, but also in pieces titled ricercare, tiento, praeludium, preambulum. All such works include various compositional styles or forms, among them the polyphonic style, initially in an early form later to evolve into actual fugal sections (like in the case of Johann Sebastian Bach’s toccatas), the harmonic style present in the arpegiato structures, structures borrowed and developed by many composers (Italian in particular), the fugue, theme and variation, or in the form of sonatas.

Among the Italian composers who frequently created under this musical genre there should be mentioned Andrea Gabrieli, Claudio Merulo, or Girolamo Friscobaldi. Unlike many composers of the time who in their toccatas adopted a style based to a large extent on harmonic structures characterizing the organ, Merulo went with his toccatas closest to subsequent works of the same genre. Most of his toccatas included in two volumes entitled “Toccate d’intavolatura di organo” (1598, 1604) are based on the existence of three main sections: two improvisatory sections at the beginning and at the end and a middle polyphonic section. Merulo was the first to structure toccatas into separate sections alternating the principles of the imitative style or fugato with harmonic and virtuosic passages. From a rhythmic standpoint, he realized an accumulation of tensions that would later be borrowed and improved by Frescobaldi in his own works, in a different manner.

Compared to Merulo’s works whose style is closer to that of the Renaissance music, Frescobaldi’s toccatas illustrate rather the features of the musical Baroque. Examples could be harmonic passages sometimes with swift, spectacular modulations unusual for the first half of the 17th century. Also noteworthy is the rapid change between improvisatory passages and fugal interludes as well as between large and small (one or two measure) passages. At the same time, his works contain passages that seem to follow no other rules that those of the free improvisatory style. Girolamo Frescobaldi has a key contribution to the development of toccata as a genre. Apart from a diversified and improved composition style, Frescobaldi accompanied all his collections with numerous explanations regarding the understanding and interpretation of the musical discourse. These theoretical works marked a spectacular development in terms of both composition and keyboard instrument interpretation.

Within the Flemish space, toccata had been developed by Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck (1562 – 1621) before Frescobaldi. Most of Sweelinck’s works have many things in common with the style of Andrea and Giovanni Gabrieli and show very little resemblance with Merulo’s style. In south Germany, one of the first authors to have cultivated toccata as a musical genre was Hans Leo Haßler (1564 – 1612), one of the disciples of Andrea Gabrielli of Venice. However, Frescobaldi’s toccatas style was carried forward in the Germanic space by Johann Jakob Froberger (1616 – 1667). As a student of Frescobaldi, Froberger borrowed many of the language features present in his master’s works. An example in this respect are the toccatas entitled per l’elevatione in which Froberger employed more or less the same compositional forms used by Frescobaldi in similar works, such as the writing of the ornaments (an Italian characteristic) by real notes or the presence of passages suggesting the significance of basso continuo and its role in the development of the musical discourse.

The style of toccata is easily recognizable in the works of some of the French school composers as well. An example is the unmeasured preludes of Louis Couperin (1626 – 1661). Three sections can be discerned within them, the beginning and the ending ones with an improvisatory character and the middle one with a fugal character.

The Italian compositional style also influenced Bach’s creation, especially his toccatas and fantasies for organ or harpsichord. Throughout such works, Bach proves a perfect mastering of the keyboard and a large variety of surprisingly juxtaposed musical styles. The main preoccupation of Bach within these works is to explore the basic compositional principles, namely, the opposition between the improvisatory style and the strict compositional style.


English version Cosmin Bădulețeanu




Anonim (sec. al XVI-lea)

From: „Intavolatura nova de balli” (Venezia, Gardane, 1551)

Le Forze d’Ercole

Tu te parti, Gagliarda


Marcantonio Cavazzoni (c. 1490 – c. 1560)

From: „Recerchari Motetti, Canzoni composti per Marco Antonio di Bologna” – Libro primo (Venezia, 1523)

Madame vous avez mon Coeur


Susanne van Sold ms (1599)

Allemande la nonnette (Monica)


Samuel Scheidt (1587 – 1654)

Von Gott will ich nicht lassen (Monica)


Gerolamo Cavazzoni (ca. 1525 – după 1577)

From: „Intavolatvra, cioè Recercari Canzoni, Himni magnificati (sic) composti per Hieronimo de Marcantonio da Bologna, detto d’Urbino”- Libro Primo (Venezia, 1542)

Ricercar primo


Girolamo Frescobaldi (1583 –1643)

From: „Toccate d’intavolatura di cimbalo et organo partite da diverse arie e corrente, balletti, ciaccone, passachagli. Di Giacomo Frescobaldi Organista in S. Pietro di Roma” – Libro 1 (1637, Nicolo Borbone)

Toccata seconda


Johann Jacob Froberger (1616 –1667)

Suite in d minor

Allemande – Courante – Sarabande – Gigue


Lamento sopra la dolorosa perdita della Real Maestà di Ferdinando IV Rè de Romani


Louis Couperin (1616 –1667)

Suite in a minor

Prellude – Allemande l’Aimable – Courante dit la Mignonne – Sarabande – La Piemontoise


Johann Sebastian Bach (c. 1685 –1750)

Fantasia in a minor, BWV 922


Marco Mencoboni – harpsichord



Marco Mencoboni


Marco Mencoboni: harpsichordist and organist, was born in 1961 in Macerata. He studied with Umberto Pineschi, Ton Koopman, Jesper Christensen and Gustav Leonhardt with whom he graduated at the Sweelinck Conservatorium in Amsterdam in 1990. He has dedicated many years to the rediscovery and performance of ancient musical repertoire of Baroque and Renaissance. Thanks to his tireless dedication, many jewels of a forgotten music have been brought back to life including works by Ignazio Donati, Pietro Pace, Costanzo Porta, Bartolomeo Barbarino, Luigi Battiferri.

Today, as soloist and director of the Cantar Lontano ensamble, he is in demand by many important festivals of early music internationally as Ambronay, Utrecht, Trigonale, Pontoise, Haut Jurà, Ravenna Festival, Rossini Opera Festival and many others. Since 1999 he is the artistic director of the Cantar Lontano festival. He rediscovered and enhanced the “Cantar Lontano” practice, an extraordinary vocal technique of Marche early ‘600. This incredible forgotten praxis is realized placing strategically the singers in the Church space, to the imitation of many choruses, to create a spectacular widespread effect sound. This research has led to the need to transform the unexpected places in real theaters for music, element that characterized his work in recent years, leading him to perform pieces of the Renaissance mixing natural voices to the horns of seven ships in the port of Ancona.

In 2010 he began working with the Pier Luigi Pizzi around the work of Monveverdi. His latest creation is Canalgrande Adriatic baroque orchestra, an orchestra composed of musicians born and raised near the Adriatic Sea, an international project that unites musicians Italians, Croats, Slovenes, Albanians and Greeks.

From 2015 he is the vicepresident of REMA (European Early Music Network).

In 2016 he has made a series of video tutorials about the peculiarities of the Early Music for Utrecht Early Music Festival.


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