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All of Rachmaninoff's Keyboard Works Ranked

Posted By: JDRPiano

All of Rachmaninoff's Keyboard Works Ranked - 04/24/19 04:23 AM

Hey there folks!

I KNOW, ANOTHER DAMN DIFFICULTY RANKING REQUEST!!! xD Was wondering if anyone had ALL of Rachmaninoff's keyboard works ranked. I've been trying to source one together but surprisingly it's been quite difficult. Anyone got any lists?

Thank you all in advance,
JDRPiano
Posted By: BruceD

Re: All of Rachmaninoff's Keyboard Works Ranked - 04/24/19 05:20 AM

One question: Why?
Posted By: JDRPiano

Re: All of Rachmaninoff's Keyboard Works Ranked - 04/24/19 05:32 AM

Hi BruceD!

Thank you for your reply! Your replies have been very insightful in the past and I appreciate the time. To answer your question, there are many people on the forums here that are very knowledgable in these aspects and I have seen you in quite a few of the ranking threads helping. Due to this, those ranking/difficulty lists have proven to be extremely helpful to me and several friends that have had difficulty in choosing repertoire. I thought it would be a fantastic idea to do on my own and it turned out to be far more challenging than I had originally thought, so I was wondering if someone already had one. Hopefully, that wasn't all redundant!

Thank you again!
Posted By: pianoloverus

Re: All of Rachmaninoff's Keyboard Works Ranked - 04/24/19 11:41 AM

Hinson's Guide to the Pianist's Repertoire already ranks all the major works in the piano literature.
https://www.amazon.com/Pianists-Repertoire-Fourth-Indiana-Guides/dp/0253010225/ref=sr_1_1?crid=2GLKN59T7VJR1&keywords=maurice+hinson&qid=1556105819&s=books&sprefix=lmaurice+hinso%2Cstripbooks%2C124&sr=1-1
Posted By: BruceD

Re: All of Rachmaninoff's Keyboard Works Ranked - 04/24/19 03:44 PM

Originally Posted by JDRPiano
[...]I thought it would be a fantastic idea to do on my own and it turned out to be far more challenging than I had originally thought[...]


The problem with ranking the difficulties of the works of any composer lies in the choice of criteria for difficulty. What might be a challenging difficulty for one person may be less of a challenge for another, and that may be where you and many others find it challenging to rank each work of any composer against that composer's other works. Even comparative lists compiled by "professionals" are open to debate. We have seen several debates here criticizing Henle's graded system against other systems. It's all related to what is considered difficult and by whom.

Some pieces are obviously more difficult than others. Rachmaninoff's Elegie from Op. 3 is considerably easier than the Prelude, Op. 23, No. 9, for example.

Speaking of the Preludes: Taking just two consecutive examples from Rachmaninoff's Op. 23;
- One person may find Op. 23, No. 4 extremely difficult because of the voicing issues (internal sustained melody in the lower voice in the right hand against a triplet accompaniment in the upper part of the right hand). S/he would rank that at X difficulty
- Another person may find the Op. 23, No 5 more difficult because of the four-note chord jumps starting at measure 17. S/he would rank that at X difficulty.

Which is more difficult? Or are they ranked as equally difficult, but just involving different difficulties? Doesn't it depend on the individual skills of the player in question.

Therefore, trying to rank all the compositions of one composer can be an exercise in futility. That said, Eleanor Bailie has done a reasonably successful job of ranking the works of Chopin in her book that is often cited on this forum.

I think it makes more sense to look at a work one wants to study/perform and decide, based on one's own skills and potential, whether that work is within one's grasp and will be worth the time and effort required to bring it to performance level. In the long run, does it really matter whether someone has rated that work as difficulty X, Y, or Z?

Regards,
Posted By: BruceD

Re: All of Rachmaninoff's Keyboard Works Ranked - 04/24/19 04:04 PM

For a partial list of some of Rachmaninoff's works and their comparative difficulties, you could consult the Syllabus of one of the piano examination systems. RCM (Toronto) Piano Syllabus, for example, lists about 20 of Rachmaninoff's works at three levels: Level 10, Associate Diploma and Licentiate Diploma.

Regards,
Posted By: dogperson

Re: All of Rachmaninoff's Keyboard Works Ranked - 04/24/19 05:48 PM

pianosyllabus.com lists about 130 Rach pieces, with the source for the grading provided.
Posted By: jon-nyc

Re: All of Rachmaninoff's Keyboard Works Ranked - 04/24/19 10:03 PM

Originally Posted by dogperson
pianosyllabus.com lists about 130 Rach pieces, with the source for the grading provided.



It's an interesting concept but I noticed the G minor prelude is listed as difficulty 10 but the D minor Sonata is only a 9.

I get Bruce's comments about different people having different difficulties, but I'm quite sure exactly nobody would find that prelude more challenging than the Sonata.
Posted By: JDRPiano

Re: All of Rachmaninoff's Keyboard Works Ranked - 04/26/19 04:18 AM

Thank you for all your replies! BruceD is definitely right... I couldn't believe I was naive to have forgotten that everyone has their own strengths and weaknesses. This answers my question of even starting a list in the first place. Thank you all again!
Posted By: rach3master

Re: All of Rachmaninoff's Keyboard Works Ranked - 04/26/19 06:04 AM

What we can all probably agree on, at least, is that Rach wrote almost no "easy" pieces smile
Posted By: MikeN

Re: All of Rachmaninoff's Keyboard Works Ranked - 04/26/19 07:31 PM

Originally Posted by rach3master
What we can all probably agree on, at least, is that Rach wrote almost no "easy" pieces smile


YES! I ABSOLUTELY agree with that.
Posted By: Sam S

Re: All of Rachmaninoff's Keyboard Works Ranked - 04/26/19 09:57 PM

I thought maybe it was the end of the semester and your keyboard lit research project was due...

Sam
Posted By: RmntcPianoLvr

Re: All of Rachmaninoff's Keyboard Works Ranked - 04/27/19 10:58 PM

Henle has ranked the prelude and etude-tableaux difficulties here:

Preludes: https://www.henle.de/en/detail/?Title=1200
Etude-Tableaux: https://www.henle.de/en/detail/?Title=1202

If you're new to playing Rachmaninoff's music, I'd highly recommend learning some preludes before learning any Etude-Tableaux. Good luck.
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