COMPOSITIONS compositions

Nocturne in B flat minor, Op. 9 No. 1 incypit

Genre: Nocturne

Key: B-flat minor

Opus/WN: Op. 9 No. 1

Creation date: 1830-1831

Acc. to Paderewski: VII/1

Acc. to Turło: 108

Instruments: piano

Composition dedicated to:

Maria Camillowa Pleyel

 

The Nocturne in B flat minor emerges from silence and to silence returns. It has the form of an ample song in which a graceful melody fills the outer sections. At first it rolls along quietly, enlivened by surging waves of ornaments. An inner tension leads to a climax, to a sudden rush of appassionato expression, enclosed within a handful of bars. The Nocturne’s middle section proceeds in the relative key of D flat major. This takes us into a strange other world: a melody without ornaments, almost ascetic and strong, led in octaves sotto voce, and so softened, repeating the same phrases over and over again. In those phrases, one can detect the rhythms of a mazurka and a motif from the old song ‘Chmiel’ [Hops]. The whole thing flows along as if in a trance or in great meditation. But then a sudden change occurs: we hear sonorous music built from sequences of sixths and thirds, immediately followed by its distant echo. Next the graceful melody from the beginning returns dolcissimo, before bursting into a final flourish and dying away in ppp, though not in the key of B flat minor, but in B flat major. Chopin would employ an optimistic major-mode ending for works adhering to a minor key – a practice taken from Bach – many times in his later works.

Here is how Jan Kleczyński – a pupil of Marcelina Czartoryska, herself a pupil of Chopin – couched his impressions of the Nocturne in B flat minor: ‘Yearning, peculiarly combined with an elegance of form’. And Józef Sikorski probably had this nocturne in mind when writing: ‘the listener drawn into these magical dreamlands wonders instinctively after the last notes have died away if it all was reverie or reality’.

Author: Mieczysław Tomaszewski
[Cykl audycji "Fryderyka Chopina Dzieła Wszystkie"]
Polish Radio, program II


 
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