The Ultimate Romantic Piece
by Sean MacLean
posted Jan 30 2014 10:52AM
For me, if it's to be truly Romantic, it must be in D-flat Major, (the richest, most velvet-draped key), Russian, unashamed to gush, but saved from cloying sentimentality by intellectual rigor and balance.
Now, where would I find that? In Rachmaninoff's 18th variation to his Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, where the intellectual trick (he flips the Paganini tune upside down and submits it to all kind of rhythmic math wizardry) is a means to a Romantic end. That Italian tune becomes so much more romantic in its Russified form that everybody from movie makers to fountain display technicians have co-opted it for its grandeur:
But if that's too cheesy for you, just follow the score: