Russian-born British and Israeli pianist Evgeny Kissin performs Sergei Rachmaninoff’s Prelude in C-sharp minor, Op. 3, No. 2, one of the composer’s most famous compositions. Recorded at the Salle Pleyel, Paris, on September 19, 2014. Kissin played the piece as an encore after Rachmaninoff’s 2nd piano concerto.
Rachmaninoff’s Prelude in C-sharp minor
Sergei Rachmaninoff’s Prelude in C-sharp minor (Op. 3, No. 2) is one of the composer’s most famous compositions and a key work in the piano repertoire. This piece was composed in 1892, when Rachmaninoff was just 19 years old, and was first performed publicly by the composer on September 26, 1892.
The Prelude is part of a set of five pieces titled “Morceaux de fantaisie,” which was Rachmaninoff’s Opus 3. Despite the fact that it was an early work, the Prelude has stood the test of time and has become an iconic piece, often representing Rachmaninoff’s style of composition.
The piece is divided into three main sections:
- The opening section, marked Alla marcia (like a march), presents a somber, tolling motif in C-sharp minor that has a distinctly bell-like character.
- The middle section, marked meno mosso (less movement), provides a lyrical contrast in D-flat Major. This section showcases Rachmaninoff’s rich harmonic palette and his gift for writing beautiful, soaring melodies.
- The final section is a return to the opening material, but this time it’s marked più mosso (more movement). The piece concludes with a dramatic, virtuosic climax that requires both technical skill and deep musical understanding to pull off effectively.
Although this piece brought Rachmaninoff instant fame, the composer grew to have a love-hate relationship with it due to its popularity. Audiences often demanded it as an encore at his concerts, and he felt it overshadowed his other works. Nonetheless, the Prelude in C-sharp minor remains a favorite among pianists and audiences alike, known for its emotional depth and technical demands.
Related: Chopin – Winter Wind [Evgeny Kissin]
- Prelude in C-sharp minor (Rachmaninoff) on Wikipedia
- Beethoven: Piano Concerto No. 3 [Pierre-Laurent Aimard] - September 19, 2023
- Beethoven: Moonlight Sonata (Full) [Eric Zivian, fortepiano] - September 19, 2023
- Pavarotti sings Non Ti Scordar di Me at the Madison Square Garden, New York  - September 17, 2023