“If there were a conservatory in Hell, and if one of its talented students were to compose a programme symphony based on the story of the Ten Plagues of Egypt, and if he were to compose a symphony like Mr. Rachmaninoff's, then he would have fulfilled his task brilliantly and would delight the inhabitants of Hell. To us this music leaves an evil impression with its broken rhythms, obscurity and vagueness of form, meaningless repetition of the same short tricks, the nasal sound of the orchestra, the strained crash of the brass, and above all its sickly perverse harmonization and quasi-melodic outlines, the complete absence of simplicity and naturalness, the complete absence of themes.”
When I heard the recording of the performance we gave the other night of Cui's violin sonata, I instantly realized that the first and last movements of the piece were not worth forcing my family or my closest friends to listen to. The second movement, however, being an imitation of Tchaikovsky, is really quite nice.
Anyway, had I known that Cui was such a nasty "Cuitic," I would have thought twice before putting so much effort into playing his sonata. Perhaps I was wrong to put so much stock in Cui (hoping that by working on his piece diligently enough I could make it worthwhile), but I certainly know that Cui was wrong about Rachmaninoff.