Russian Composer Sergey Vasilyevich Rachmaninoff always considered himself as a disciple of Tchaikovsky. Rachmaninoff was probably the last trulyromantic composer in the history of music, dying in 1943. Like many other romantic composers, Rachmaninoff tended to prefer miniatures over large scale works.
Etude in c minor, Op. 33, No. 3 Rachmaninoff’s Etudes -likehis preludes – follow the tradition of the early romantic composers. The name “Concert Etude” refers to a short musical piece that combines challenging technical difficulties with deep musical content; the composer’s goal was to create a piece that would be suitable for concerts, rather than a meaningless exercise that would only be suitable for daily finger practice. The “Concert Etude” was crystalized as a genre by Chopin in his 24 Etudes. Rachmaninoff, following Chopin’s example, wrote two collections of Etudes and named them “Etude-Tableaux”, emphasizing their characteristics as tone pictures rather than exercises. The third etude of the first collection, Op.33 No.3 in C Minor, is a musical description of a funeral ceremony. It starts with big chords echoing the bells of a Russian church, whereas suddenly in the middle of the piece the atmosphere changes completely into a celestial C Major melody.
Prelude in Gb Major, Op. 23, No. 10 Preludes are mostly known as introductions to operas or suites; Bach has eternalized the immortal combination of preludes and fugue. However, since Chopin’s time, preludes became independent pieces; these short character-pieces were musical associations inspired by the key in which they were written. Rachmaninoff, following Chopin’s example, wrote 24 Preludes in all major and minor keys divided in two groups. The tenth Prelude in Gb Major is the last in the first group of preludes published as Op.23. It is a meditative quiet lullaby,based on an ostinato figuration in the right hand.
Elegie, Op. 3, No. 1 The Elegie in Eb Minor is the first in a collection of five pieces called “Morceaux de fantaisie” (Fantasy pieces), a name that probably refers to the rather free structure of the piece. A strong influence of Tchaikovsky can be feltin this piece. It starts as a quiet song and continues to an agitated middle part; the quiet melody returns, building a heroic climax towards the end.