Classical Music | Piano Music

Sergei Rachmaninov

Prelude Op. 23 no. 6 in E-flat Major  Play

Anastasia Seifetdinova Piano

Recorded on 08/31/2011, uploaded on 03/06/2012

Musician's or Publisher's Notes

The piano is featured prominently in Rachmaninoff’s music, either as a solo instrument or as part of an ensemble. He used his own skills as a performer not to write music of empty virtuosity, but rather to fully explore the expressive possibilities of the instrument. The Ten Preludes of op. 23, three of which are on the program today, were completed in 1903. The preludes were composed at the same time as his first extended piece for solo piano, the Variations on a Theme of Chopin, op. 22, itself derived from Chopin's C Minor Prelude. It is no surprise, then, that Rachmaninoff would take inspiration from Chopin's precedent and begin composing a set of his own.

The young composer's marriage in May of 1902 and the impending birth of the couple's first child may have contributed to this amazingly fertile period. In less than three years he had completed his Concerto No.2, the Second Suite for Two Pianos, and the Cello Sonata. The Op. 23 Preludes, with their alternating moods of high-powered brilliance and joy (No. 2), tenderness (No. 6), and heroic vigor (No. 5) can plausibly be regarded as an autobiographical testament. Irina, the couple's daughter, was born on May 14th and Julian Haylock tells us that in response to her birth, "Rachmaninoff sat down the very same day and composed his E-flat major Prelude (No. 6), a microcosm of wide-eyed innocence and blissful contentment."     Anastasia Seifetdinova