Work: Prelude for Piano in G sharp minor, Op. 32 no 12
About This Work
This is the penultimate of the 13 preludes making up Rachmaninov's Op. 32 set. It is one of the more popular works in this or any of his large collections and often appears on recital programs and recordings apart from its siblings in the set. It is
very typical of Rachmaninov in that it is yet another work that uses the Dies Irae theme. The composer had a special fondness for it, employing it in many compositions, like his Isle of the Dead, Symphonic Dances, Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, and even in his symphonies. In this Prelude, the Dies Irae appears in a variation form and serves as the main theme. Unsuspecting listeners familiar with the Dies Irae melody might not notice its thematic connection to Rachmaninov's melody at first. The piece, marked Allegro, opens with a swirling, agitated figure in the right hand over which a melancholy theme is played, which, unlike the Dies Irae, first rises before falling. In the middle section, the music grows more agitated until an eruption is provoked and the theme is played at a faster tempo, taking on the identical contour of the Dies Irae. The main theme then re-appears in its original form, but in a colorfully haunting version with its first notes played in the bass ranges. The piece ends quietly, but without resolution of its agitated manner. This Prelude lasts about two-and-a-half minutes in performance.
-- Robert Cummings
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