Rachmaninov's third piano concerto is in my opinion the most beautiful, haunting, and varied of his four piano concertos.
Written in 1909, its premiere was given on 28th November 1909 at the New Theatre, New York. Critical opinion of the music at the time was mixed: although the piece was remarked to contain "essential dignity and beauty" and to be "the most interesting piano concertos of recent years" by New York publications, its length and extreme difficulty were greatly criticised. However, nowadays it receives the undeniable appreciation it deserves.
The work evolves from the deceptively simple opening D minor melody into a work of impressive cohesiveness, subtle thematic cross-references and a richly varied design. The piano writing is among the most colourful and resourceful that Rachmaninov ever conceived, with a power that allows the listener to float away to another place.
Although, may I just take this moment to say that if there are any budding pianists out there who, on hearing it, feel they'd like to play it for themselves, just a small warning - it's bloody hard!