Innovative approach and expansion to formal structure, expressiveness, and pianism in selected piano works from Op. 16, 23, 32, 33, and 39 of Sergei Rachmaninoff
Ko, Chuan Li
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Rachmaninoff’s traditionalist tendencies as a composer are reflected in his coloristic musical expression and late-romantic harmonic language, part of his refusal to conform to the "progressive" and “innovative” trends of the early twentieth century. The assumption that Rachmaninoff was trapped in the musical past, though, is strongly contradicted by his later works, especially the Preludes and Études-Tableaux, which display an innovative approach to developing the generic norms of these two forms. Not only does Rachmaninoff alter the dimensions of these works, but he also intensifies the emotional content of the piece through the technical display of highly sophisticated pianistic writing and employs complex tone-paintings to portray a variety of moods, pictures and deep emotions. The purpose of this paper is to investigate Rachmaninoff’s innovative approach to developing piano pieces from formal, expressive and pianistic standpoints. Selected Moments Musicaux, Preludes, and Études-Tableaux will be studied to examine the way in which Rachmaninoff expands the formal and structural dimensions of the work, and heightens the expressiveness and pianistic artistry of his compositional writing. A comparison of two genres between Rachmaninoff and his antecedent composers will be made to demonstrate the inventive and intriguing sides of Rachmaninoff’s writing in the most comprehensive way possible in hope of igniting a spark of interest among the pianists and helping them to have a better grasp of musical understanding on Rachmaninoff’s music.Embargo status: Restricted until 06/2022. To request the author grant access, click on the PDF link to the left.