Classical Music | Piano Music

Frédéric Chopin

Nocturne in A-flat Major, Op. 32 No. 2  Play

Michael Tsalka Piano

Recorded on 09/19/2006, uploaded on 01/21/2009

Musician's or Publisher's Notes

When compared to their immediate predecessors, the two nocturnes of Chopin’s opus 32 fail somewhat to impress. Well-wrought works of art in their own right, they nevertheless do not possess the striking originality and fervent expression of those of opus 27. But, alas, a composer cannot always produce such dazzling gems every time he sets pen to paper and it seems that Chopin may have been more concerned with technique than expressive quality.

The second nocturne of the set, in A-flat major, begins with a simple plagal cadence, evoking a feeling of peace and stillness. After a pause, a lyrical song-like melody is played by the right hand over an accompaniment of triplet eighths in the left. Simplicity, here, is the prominent feature and one will notice that the usual abundance of ornamentation often found in Chopin’s work is subjected to moderation. In the central episode of the nocturne’s ternary design, the triplet rhythm fully takes over with the change of meter. The tranquil scene of the opening is replaced by a more agitated and chromatic expression. Amplifying this stormy passage is a modulation up a halfstep into the distant key of F-sharp minor. The opening theme returns suddenly with no special bridge passage. Marked appassionata, it is apparent that the temperament of the melody has been sorely affected by the turbulent middle section. Slowly, however, the melody regains its original composure. The final phrase of the melody is highly ornamented, leading the listener expectantly onward to conclusion, and the peaceful plagal cadence of the opening returns to end the piece.     Joseph DuBose


Nocturne in A-flat Major, Op. 32 No. 2         Frédéric Chopin

Nocturne in A-flat Major, Opus 32 No. 2, Frederic Chopin and Nocturne in f minor, Manuel de Falla

Although almost one hundred years separate the composition of the two nocturnes that will close today's program, the pieces seem to share a fascination with long and melancholic melodic lines. The Nocturne in A-Flat Major by Frederic Chopin (1810 - 1849) is typical of that composer's employment of pedaled broken chords and expansive thematic lyricism. The Nocturne in f minor by Spanish composer Manuel de Falla (1876 - 1946) was completed when he was only fifteen. The influence of Chopin is evident not only in the formal structure of the nocturne, but also in the figurations of the accompaniment. The young composer, however, was already demonstrating an interest in national idioms. This is particularly clear in the modal character of the principal theme, which is typical of the folk-tunes and dances of Andalucia.     Michael Tsalka