"Rachmaninoff admitted to Respighi that #6 told the story of Little Red Riding Hood and the Wolf, which he had read to his daughter. The composer usually avoided program music, and, I think, with good reason. His imagination wasn't really stirred by the physical or by drama. For example, his operas, although extremely polished, I find very weak affairs dramatically. Here, if you didn't know the story, you wouldn't have guessed. Even knowing the story, you don't necessarily see it unfolding in the music. Growling runs in the bass represent the wolf, of course, and a flighty flight of notes in the soprano represent the fleeing heroine. That's about as specific as the music gets. However, as an abstract piece of music that plays off these two themes, it's a honey. Rachmaninoff is indeed a composer full of drama, but it's inner, not stage, drama."
-Classical Net Review, Steve Shwartz
This aggressive and daunting piece opens with threatening chromatic octave runs low on the keyboard, answered by quick, chattering treble figures that eventually transform themselves into a march. The music grows hectic and, having reached presto, sounds nearly out of control. The effect of the piece is seemingly mysterious yet fully unified.Referred to as "Little Red Riding Hood and the Wolf", the piece ends with the chromatic runs sounding as though the wolf swallowed Red Riding Hood whole.
Illustrations: Melissa Jayne Rathbone