About this work
This B flat major prelude, Op. 23/2, is the third of the 24 preludes Rachmaninov composed. The first, the well-known C sharp minor, is an orphan of sorts, serving as No. 2 in the Morceaux de Fantasie, a set of five pieces of varying types. This Prelude in B flat major is one of the brighter of the ten that comprise its set. The collection is not necessarily beset with constant melancholy but, as in much of Rachmaninov's music, it tends toward the gloomy or unsettling, or at least divulges agitation or yearning. This prelude is hardly free of anxiety in its rapid tempos and brilliant piano writing, but is nevertheless sunlit and effervescent in its excitement. In the outer sections, the left hand busily provides a nearly constant running accompaniment, while the right plays a buoyant but nervous theme, the whole sounding like glittering cascades of notes from up and down the keyboard. Roles are reversed in the middle section, the left hand playing a lovely, passionate melody to gentle but busy accompaniment by the right. The music builds up to herald the return of the main theme and the piece closes in triumphant style. This prelude has a duration of about three-and-a-half minutes.