Rachmaninov had big hands: An illustration

Rachmaninov's Prelude in C# minor, Op. 3, No. 2, performed as it is written, by classical music comedy duo Igudesman & Joo.

I tried to learn that piece once. I didn't last long.

Comments (19)
  1. nathan_works says:

    The rach.. Not knowing much about it, all I can think of is "Shine" and the guy breaking down while playing "the Rach".

  2. Waage says:

    Hmm, this has probably been brought up before but either you are very accurate on when you publish your blog entries or your blog entry clock is broken :D

  3. Steve Hazel says:

    I love that video.

    You probably came across that link from the amazing piano world forum:


    Absolutely the best forum ever of piano players.  People from everywhere and tons of em.  More piano knowledge than you can possibly imagine all bottled up in one (not so little) site.

    I go there at least twice a week.

    Almost as often as I come here :)

  4. daves561 says:

    This prelude isn’t that technically challenging. The chords sound big, but they’re no more than an octave stretch throughout. There are much harder Rachmaninoff preludes.

  5. James Schend says:

    Waaaaaaaaaage: smart bloggers schedule their entries, so they can create a buffer of entries to be posted on days you don’t feel like blogging. Raymond does that to an insane degree; he’s something like 3-4 months ahead on posts. :)

    Anyway, the clock’s not broken.

  6. I found it pretty challenging – one of my proudest moments finally managing to perform this one!  

    And some of the chords are definitely more than an octave stretch, if you perform it ‘as written’.  The usual way is to jump from one part of a chord to another so quickly that it pretty much sounds like they’re on the same beat, I believe, but in order to hit all the notes at exactly the same time, you’d probably need four hands – or a large piece of wood ;)

    Of course, it’s been a while since I played it – caveat lector(?)

  7. The obvious solution is to build a piano with a narrower keyboard.

  8. daves561 says:

    I just got out the score and played through it. There are four bars in the fast section and two bars in the slow section that have a bracket showing a bass note(s) synchronized with higher stuff. As they exceed even the composer’s stretch, obviously you have to jump. All other chords are an octave or less in span.

    Even within the piece, there are more difficult things to worry about: Articulating the quarter notes over the triplets in the Allegro is the tough stuff here, in my opinion.

  9. Wil says:

    After reading the first 5 words the first thing that I thought was someone created a C# dialect called "C# minor" and Rachmaninov gives a Prelude/introduction to it.

    …then I saw the Op. 3, No. 2.

  10. Sven Groot says:

    That’s actually a pretty impressive performance of that piece. :)

    I love Rachmaninov, he’s my favourite composer. I never attempted any of his pieces back when I played piano though, I never got near that level.

  11. KTC says:

    The sad thing is, I had similar thoughts…. *sigh* I need to get out more! :D

  12. Dave says:

    Didn’t british comedian Rainer Hersch do this sketch long before Igudesman and Joo did?

  13. Will Hughes says:

    Clever – I like it.

    They wouldn’t have needed such big hands if they’d compiled the performance from it’s original C# Minor down to MSIL.

    *runs away*

  14. Mark says:

    Dave: yes, but not with as much showmanship.

    See also http://www.igudesmanandjoo.com/?show=debat&id=6&tid=62#jump

  15. jcoehoorn says:

    Be honest now:  How many saw the key of the piece first and thought, "Oh no; he’s blogging about .Net again?"

  16. The .Net comments are actually fairly close to the mark.

    The language – "C Sharp" – is spelled with a hash mark or pound sign, "C#".  Even on the official documentation.


    The Rachmaninov prelude is spelled with a "sharp" sign, "C♯ minor".

  17. David Conrad says:

    It’s easier to play the Prelude in VB mixolydian.

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