Rachmaninoff: Prelude in D Major, Op. 23, No. 4 (Upper Intermediate)

Long melodic material, well-delineated accompaniment surrounding the melody, and rich harmonies are the winning ingredients of this expressive masterpiece. Even though it is possible to use the original hand distribution, we suggest fingering and strategic placement of hand positions based on a very smooth, cantabile right hand. Of course this solution creates other challenges, such as the need to voice evenly the accompaniment material between hands. The repeat of the main theme beginning in measure 19 separates the texture in three clear layers: the melodic in the middle, surrounded by a counter melody in the top and the arpeggiated accompaniment in the left hand. In the middle section, long melodic lines create waves that reach the softest point (m. 43) before building to the climax in measure 51 which leads to the return of the A section in yet one more textural variation. The theme is now presented in chords, with a syncopated counter melody on the weak part of the beat a sixth above the theme. Rachmaninoff believed in the importance of finding a culminating point in each piece (totchka in Russian) for a successful performance. In this prelude, one could argue that there are two such points, one soft (pp, m. 43), and one loud (m. 51). For a successful performance, both places should be brought out in a special way. A tasteful use of rubato will be necessary throughout.

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