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On the sixth measure of Rachmaninoff's Prelude in C# Minor there is a second chord that appears to be D#-E-D#. I didn't think that this sounded quite right, and in all the videos I've watched it's been played D-E-D, but I haven't been able to tell why exactly the sharp is erased.

Here's the chord circled.

Thanks!

2 Answers 2

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Here is the Henle edition with their comment (Source A is the autograph):

Henle

Note

Snippets taken from the score sample at the Henle website, which discusses the sources for their edition.

Phoog kindly pointed out Henle's excellent discussion (with reader comments) of this note in their blog. It mentions that Rachmaninoff's three recordings all have the d sharp.

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Well I also found a video on YouTube with D naturals there, and, guess what, it's wrong. Look for videos of well known professional pianists; they play the D sharp. Here's one of a piano roll that was recorded by the composer himself:

As I learned from DjinTonic's answer, this error has a long pedigree, having appeared in the first edition. Furthermore, it has persisted through several other editions that copied the first (even though subsequent printings of the first were corrected). It seems likely, therefore, that the videos you've found with the D natural were recorded by people who leaned the piece from one of the erroneous editions rather than the one you've been looking at or another correct edition.

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  • The chord in question can be heard around 0:30-0:32 in both the embedded video above (D#) and in this Rousseau video (D natural)
    – Miles
    Feb 17, 2023 at 5:32

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