Rachmaninov - Preludes, Op. 23

Ten preludes, ten examples of why Rachmaninov is probably the greatest composer to grace the ivories - especially for the prelude in G minor…

Rachmaninov's reputation at the keyboard is, to put it mildly, formidable. With his ten Preludes, he followed in the footsteps of his predecessors like Bach and Chopin, sticking doggedly to the traditional format. Crucially, though, there were fireworks like never before.

Without a doubt, the best-known of these ten preludes is the one in G minor. It's a perfect encapsulation of what Rachmaninov was capable of at the piano - by turns grumpy, romantic, lyrical and downright difficult - but in the most accessible way possible.

As a whole, though, the preludes have a curiously intimate and small-scale feel, perhaps down to the fact that Rachmaninov composed them in a hotel rather than in his usual isolation. But they are endlessly enjoyable to dip in and out of - indeed, Rachmaninov played all of them at once in concert, preferring to throw a few into programmes when he felt like it. What a confection.

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