Prelude No.5

About this work

There are 13 preludes in Rachmaninov's Op. 32 set, and with the ten in his Op. 23 collection and the lone Prelude in C sharp minor, Op. 10, the composer achieved his objective of covering all of the major and minor keys. This, then, is the fifth in Op. 32, and the 16th of the 24. Rachmaninov was known to be gloomy in his works, said to be more at home indulging this characteristic in minor, rather than major keys. This sweetly playful prelude might serve as evidence on the flip side of this assertion since it is bright and largely upbeat music in a major key. While there may be more than a grain of truth to the major/minor mood swings of Rachmaninov, he nevertheless could convincingly convey single or multiple emotions in either major or minor keys. This lovely Prelude in G major sounds a bit slower than its Moderato marking might suggest. Heard against a wavy, rocking figure in the left hand, the main theme floats along in the upper register with a tranquil, childlike innocence, but then playfully tumbles downward. The middle section turns somewhat tense, briefly bordering on the melancholy. But the mood from the opening returns and the piece quietly and soothingly ends. This prelude typically lasts three-and-a-half minutes in performance.