Toccatina was commissioned by the Powell Quartet, who premiered the piece on April 8, 1990, at the Richmond Jewish Community Center in Richmond, VA. Toccatina uses a small number of short cells or melodic fragments which are subjected to various transformations throughout the work. The piece is built up using various types of repetition: immediate repetition of the cells, as well as repetition of 4- and 8-bar phrases (although often with gradual variation). Frequently these repetitions involve cyclic procedures in which, for example, a four-note cell repeats five times while, at the same time, a five-note cell repeats four times. And the overall structure of the piece also consists of repetition: the second half of the piece is a repetition of the first half, occasionally transposed. This repetition is followed by a brief coda, in which a simple melody emerges in the bass flute.
I hope to make the Powell Quartet's 1992 recording available again on a new album of my woodwind music in 2017. Here’s an excerpt from their recording featuring: Barbara Brown & Sato Moughalian (flutes), Steven Belenko (alto flute), and James Schlefer (bass flute).