About this work
There are many among pianists and public alike who assert that this Prelude in B minor is the deepest and most substantive of the ten in the Op. 32 set and indeed, that it is perhaps the composer's finest from among the 24 he wrote. Stylistically, it embodies much of Rachmaninov's complex musical persona: brooding, dark, and stormy, it builds from a gentle, forlorn opening to a powerful, grandiose climax midway through and closes in a subdued, melancholy mood. Marked Lento, this prelude presents its main theme in gentle chords, the feeling at the outset seemingly one of consolation or of loss. The music gradually builds, the chords taking on greater muscle and accumulating tension. The mood is soon conflicted, the music exhibiting heroism but struggling in its cumbersome ascending gait. It collapses and the gentle melancholy from the opening soon returns, the main theme itself now struggling to express its somber tones. The music slowly fades at the close, leaving a desolate and listless impression. This prelude is, with No. 13 (D flat major), the longest in the Op. 32 set at around seven minutes.
Curated by Femke Steketee, Saxophonist