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I tried out the Rachmaninoff transcription, and it's quite a handful - most certainly harder than the first movement of the Waldstein! It also has some harmonies that to me are excessively ripe for a transcription of Bach. Personally, my favorite transcription of that Prelude is by Bach himself: the Sinfonia from the BWV29 cantata. There it's played by organ and orchestra, with the organ taking most of the original violin's moto perpetuo, and is transposed down a step. (I first heard it on an old Columbia recording from the 1950s called Music of Jubilee, with none other than E. Power Biggs on organ, and have been in love with Bach ever since.)
What I didn't know until today is that Saint-Saens in turn did a transcription for piano of that Sinfonia. Having downloaded that from IMSLP and tried it out, I think it's a bit easier than the Rachmaninoff, though there are still plenty of challenges. Saint-Saens didn't romanticize the harmonies either. After a few run-throughs I'm enjoying it so much I've decided to make a project of learning it. But hats off as well to anyone who undertakes the Rachmaninoff!
Re: Bach/rachmaninoff prelude from violin partita in E
I think some of Rachmaninoff's transcriptions are rather tongue-in-cheek, and this one is one of the more subtile examples. The Kreisler transcriptions are definitely over the top, but this one just has a little twinkle in his eye of his manner of parodying himself, and that makes it great fun. The Saint-Saens is easier, and more straightforward, and learning it will not preclude you from learning the Rachmaninoff.
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