Prelude No.1

Sergey Rachmaninov

Prelude No.1 in F# minor

Op. 23/1

About this work

The 1892 Prelude No. 2 in C sharp minor (from Morceaux de Fantasie, Op. 3) was the first prelude Rachmaninov composed. Though tagged as No. 1 in Op. 23, this Prelude in F sharp minor was not the first in this set composed, that distinction falls to the popular G minor (No. 5), which dates to 1901. It was two years later that Rachmaninov then produced this F sharp minor effort, as well as the B flat major (No. 2). The other seven came later that same year. Although the Prelude in G minor has been the most popular work in the set, No. 1 here has also attracted its share of attention. It is one of those brooding, passionate works that Rachmaninov was so famous for. The piece opens with a typically forlorn accompaniment and a soft, repetitive figure in the middle register over which a lovely, gloomy theme is played an octave or so higher. The accompaniment suggests constant agitation, while the theme seems to console, or does it cry? The middle section turns tense and anxious, but a mild climactic episode does not resolve -- much less banish -- the underlying turmoil and melancholy. This work typically has a duration of three-and-a-half minutes.