no. 2 from Six Musical Moments, Op. 16
Six moments musicaux (Six Musical Moments, Шесть Музыкальных Моментов), Op. 16, is a set of piano pieces composed by Sergei Rachmaninoff between October and December, 1896, with each work reproducing musical forms characteristic of previous times. The forms that appear in Rachmaninoff's incarnation are the nocturne, song without words, barcarolle, virtuoso étude, and theme and variations. The individual pieces have been described as 'true concert works, being best served on a stage and with a concert grand.' Although composed as part of a set, each piece stands on its own as a concert solo with individual themes and moods. The pieces span a variety of themes ranging from the somber funeral march of number three to the majestic canon of number six. Although he usually premiered his own work, there is no record of him playing this set, and the date of the first performance remains unknown. A typical performance lasts 30 minutes. The second piece, is positioned in contrast to the lyrical and "atmospheric" melody of the first piece.  This piece represents a typical nineteenth-century étude, similar in style to Frédéric Chopin's Études, with a melody interspersed between rapid sextuplet figures. It is in strict ternary form with a coda: identical beginning and ending sections, and a contrasting middle section. The second section radically changes dynamics, constantly changing from piano to fortissimo and even sforzando. Rachmaninoff revised this piece in March 1940, changing the melody but leaving the constant sextuplets, proving that the rushing figures are not simple bravura or flair.