Recorded on 10/01/2011, uploaded on 10/01/2011
Musician's or Publisher's Notes
Chopin composed the two nocturnes that make up his opus 48 in 1841, a time of relative happiness and great productivity for the composer whose life was otherwise marred by sadness. He began composing nocturnes in 1827 with his first published attempts appearing in 1833. These early essays showed the influence of John Field in their relative simplicity but also the eager mind of the composer, ever the mark of a genius, already attempting to expand beyond the set boundaries of the form. In time and as with so many of the smaller forms Chopin composed within, the nocturne was transformed to into a form of great technical demands and immense emotional depth.
The Nocturne in C minor, first of the opus 48 duo, is one of Chopin’s greatest creations by virtue of his sheer power. Marked Lento, it begins with what is almost the barebones of a melody. The accompaniment offers little more—heavy bass tone punctuated by chords in the middle voices. The result is an overwhelming sense of despair, a dismal landscape offering little hope and certainly no indication of what is to follow. Sounding almost like a study in contrast, but nevertheless seeming like an inevitable outcome, the dejection of the opening section is effectively matched by the majesty and solemnity of the central episode. Changing to the key of C major, it begins simply with a chorale-like melody accompanied by full-voiced chords below it. Growing in power, fervent triplets impart an increasing sense of expectation to the solemn chorale tune and chromatic harmonies foreshadow the impending return to C minor. Played at twice the speed as before, the first theme returns while the triplets of the middle episode carrying over to form an agitated accompaniment. Only in the final measures, does the tempest subside and solemn C minor chords conclude one of Chopin’s most passionate compositions. Joseph DuBose
(live recording )
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