Russian Piano Masterpieces: Rachmaninov
- Extra Reading
There is no need to introduce Rachmaninov, considered by many to be the greatest composer-pianist in history and the creator of several famous items on the “classical hit parade”. But his very popularity has always detracted from the value of his music in the eyes of scholars, who tend to view his music as merely middlebrow. This is a serious misunderstanding of his art, and has left the complexity and subtlety of his music underappreciated.
The secrets of his immersive and compelling music still have to be uncovered, even if their effects are well known to an adoring public. Taking a selection from Rachmaninov’s Preludes, we will concentrate on three crucial aspects of his piano music: the “Russianness” of his materials (whether real or imagined), the complexity of his scoring (how much can a pair of hands manage, or the human ear digest?), and the art of dramatic timing (how does he construct a climax, and how does he descend from the peak?).
The exploration of these three elements helps to understand the extraordinary artistry and technique behind this music’s irresistible appeal.
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