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The third pair of Nocturnes, Op. 37, dates from the time of Chopin’s sojourn on Majorca.

The first of the two, in the key of G minor, was written prior to that memorable romantic escapade; the second, just after. Following his return to France, in a letter written at Nohant during his first summer there (in 1839), Chopin informed Julian Fontana: ‘I have a new Notturno, in G major, which will go with the G minor, if you recall’. And to remind his friend of the work he is referring to, he writes out its opening few notes in the letter.

Chopin’s Op. 37 No. 1 offers us nocturnal reflection that could seemingly last without end. But then a different, unexpected, atmosphere appears. We are transported to another realm. A sequence of chords appears, bound in self-communion, deceptively similar to those from the first of Chopin’s nocturnes written in the key of G minor. There, the composer placed the word religioso above the notes; here, it is omitted.

A couple of interpreters of Chopin’s music – Kleczyński, Hoesick – have associated the music of these bars with ‘a prayer played on a country organ’. Its chorale character is indisputable. A moment later, it quietens and then falls utterly silent, halted by a succession of pauses. The melody of that nostalgic reflection returns. But as it nears the end, it alters its tone: the light of a major key appears, brought to the work by a change of just one single note – a minor third altered to a ‘Picardian’ major third.

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


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Nocturne in G minor, Op. 37 No. 1 Op. 37 No. 1
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