Ralph Vaughan Williams

Toccata Marziale, for military band in B flat major

    Description by Robert Cummings

    This is yet another band work by Vaughan Williams, a composer whose style adapted well to almost any medium, save for the keyboard. Here, he fashioned a work of neo-Classical character and wit, auguring the offbeat world of his 1954 Concerto for Tuba and Orchestra, and, to a lesser extent, the exotic realm of his Eighth Symphony (1953-1955; rev. 1958). Much has been made by certain musicologists of the Toccata Marziale's supposed advanced compositional features, but in fact they are rather typical of the composer in their thematic, harmonic and instrumental characteristics -- Vaughan Williams would have been the first to admit he blazed no theoretical trails or established no school.

    The piece is jolly and somewhat Stravinskian in character, featuring lean scoring, vibrant colors, and deft wit. The music augurs the scherzo movements from several of the composer's later symphonies, including the Fifth and Ninth. Any similarity to style of Stravinsky, as noted above, is probably coincidental, since that Russian composer's neo-Classical manner is far removed from the normally Romantic and often gruff style of Vaughan Williams. The Toccata Marziale, marked Allegro maestoso, lasts about four minutes and is full of color and energy. It is not an important work in the composer's Ĺ“uvre, but is nevertheless an attractive, well-crafted diversion.

    Appears On

    Year Title Label Catalog #
    2017 Somm SOMMCD 0170
    2016 Mark Records 52284 MCD
    2015 Mark Records 51371MCD
    2013 Decca / Mercury 4785092
    2012 Heritage HTGCD 227
    2012 Naxos 8572917
    2010 Klavier Records 11171
    2007 Gia 685
    2007 Gia 681
    2003 Resonance 3006
    2001 Bandleader / Emblem CHM 8001
    1999 Chandos 9697
    1999 Citadel Records 88137
    1999 Polygram 462960
    1999 Philips
    1996 BNA 5109
    1993 Bandleader BNA 5002
    1993 ASV 6021
    1989 CBS Masterworks / CBS Records 44916
    Mark Custom Recording 4887
    Mark Custom Recording 4280