Toccata & bruise

Josefina Urraca, piano

  • Written in 2016
  • Live recorded September 10, 2022
  • 9 min 21 sec

toccata & bruise is a duet for piano & pianist about the musical concept of touch.

Throughout the piece, the pianist listens to Glenn Gould performing his piano transcription of Jan Sweelinck’s Fantasie Contraria in G Dorian for organ, recorded live in Salzburg in 1959. Though the audience barely hears the Gould recording, it serves as an audio score via which the pianist precisely synchronises her actions with the fixed video playback.

toccata & bruise is a transcriptive fantasy of Glenn Gould’s transcription of Sweelinck’s Fantasie. The organ is an instrument with limited response to tactile touch: its variation in dynamics and timbre comes from mechanical manoeuvres. Glenn Gould’s transcription for piano—an instrument whose practice is shrouded in the pursuit of immaculate “touch”—therefore composes a tactile fantasia out of the cerebral counterpoint of Sweelinck’s mirror fugue. The visual and gestural material of toccata & bruise are choreographed to Gould’s recording, visually transcribing the sensations of touch which he projects onto Sweelinck’s Fantasie. This piece takes the three distinct parts of the Sweelinck—an opening fugue, a middle toccata, and a final fantasia—as its own formal divisions. Like a lost wax cast, both the sounds of Gould’s piano and the onstage piano have been shed from the process, leaving behind only phantoms of the touch that produced them.

Scroll to top