Keith Emerson … R.I.P.
Yes, Emerson, Lake & Palmer could go completely over the top at times and get far too self-indulgent. “Toccata,” taken from the Fourth Movement of Alberto Ginastera’s Piano Concerto No. 1, is one of those times, though, when going over the top was all worth it. The composition, as performed by ELP (on their Brain Salad Surgery album), sounds like nothing else on Earth. I was 15 the first time I heard this piece and was completely blown away by it.
When Keith Emerson played this track for Ginastera the first time, the Argentinian composer replied, “Diabolico!” (as in “frightening”). Emerson thought he was saying he didn’t like it and was crushed. Ginastera convinced him, though, that he in fact loved it and said, “You have captured the essence of my music, and no one’s ever done that before.”
“Toccata” is audio proof that Keith Emerson earned his title of being “the Jimi Hendrix of the keyboards” in his most diabolical, exciting performance.