CHOPIN Frédéric, Nocturne Op.15 Nos.1 & 2
Chopin’s fourth nocturne is in simple ternary form (A–B–A). The first section, in F major, features a very simple melody over a descending triplet pattern in the left hand. The middle section in F minor, in great contrast to the outer themes, is fast and dramatic (Con fuoco) using a challenging double note texture in the right hand. After a return to the serene A theme, the ending does not contain a coda, but rather two simple arpeggios. Some critics have remarked that this nocturne has little to do with night, as if sunlight is “leaking” from the piece’s seams. Chopin’s fifth nocturne is marked Larghetto, featuring an intricate, elaborately ornamental melody over an even quaver bass. The second section, labelled doppio movimento (double speed), resembles a scherzo with dotted quaver-semi quaver melody, semiquavers in a lower voice in the right hand, and large jumps in the bass. The final section is a shortened version of the first (14 bars rather than 24) with characteristic cadenzas and elaboration, finishing with an arpeggio on F♯ major, falling at first, then dying away. Many consider this nocturne to be the best of the opus, stating that its musical maturity matches some of his later nocturnes.