Characteristics of Romantic Period * Rachmaninoff Piano concerto No. 2 1stmovement Sergei Rachmaninoff’s piano concerto No. 2 is composed in 1900 at the end of the Romantic period emphasizing anti-modernism and representing the older Romantic tradition. The first movement is in sonata-allegro form, which is exposition, development, Recapitulation and Coda, preserving and extending the formal structure from the Classical period. The piece is very emotional and expressive, containing a lot of Modulation and change of tempo.
Rachmaninoff’s composition in general requires both great techniques and musical interpretation, while his concerto No. 2 is the most popular piece which established his fame as a concerto composer. While most concertos begin with the orchestra, this movement begins with piano solo. The key of this piece is C Minor. However, the tonic is introduced in measure 9 which also represents music In the Romantic period as having more freedom in form and design being more personal. In figure 1, the beginning 8 chords have a gradual dynamic change from pp to ff.
This crescendo follows by a ritardanto in the end of the introduction crates a magnificent feeling. The basic motif appears on the 2nd beat in measure 8, this is centre idea of the piece which will appear throughout the piece. The violin, violas and cellos plays main melody in theme I in r1 (rehearsal unit 1) as the piano accompany with arpeggios. The first theme contains 2 melodies as shown below. (Figure 2) Piano enters Theme b at r. 3, this is the shows tone-colour changes that a concerto may express and Rachmaninoff frequently used tone-colour changes in his concerto.
After Theme I, there is transition I which leads to the 2nd theme. (Figure 3) The 2nd theme is in Eb major which is the related major of the tonic key, this shows frequent modulation in the Romantic period. However, its structure consists of a 10-measure irregular period with an authentic cadence which is also a characteristic especially for the late romantic period. The dynamic marking “” is subordinated to melodic line making it expressive. This theme is song-like; beautiful melody which represents Rachmaninoff and Romantic period.
Development starts after transition 2, consisting fragments of the first theme and the basic motif which appears with poco a poco acceleration which evokes the change of duration. The technique of using fragments of the basic motif was used from the baroque period throughout till now. Modulation is represented in this section including Bbmajor (dominants of Ebmajor), Gminor, (related minor of Bbmajor) and C minor. Duration is changed several times in the development, starting off with Moto precedente, then Piu vivo, Piu vivo and allegro at the end.
The section ends in acceleration and crescendo (Figure 4. ) with piano playing main melody in dramatic chords which accents and staccato as one of the expressive technique. At the same time, the violins are also playing a melody against it which creats texture. The last part of development; r10 starts p then crescendo (Figure 5. ) as the piano plays triplet-chord and orchestra playing the basic motif creating thick texture, bring the piece to a climax also leads to Recapitulation.