Nocturne No.2

Frédéric Chopin

Nocturne No.2 in Eb major

Op. 9/2, B. 54/2 • “Murmures de la Seine 2”

Recommended recording

Curated by Maryna Boiko, Primephonic Curator

About this work

The twenty-one Nocturnes of Frédéric Chopin (of which only twenty were designated as such by the composer, the well-known Nocturne in C sharp minor of 1830 having been assigned the title Nocturne only upon publication in 1875) span virtually his entire creative career. Chopin inherited the form from Irish composer John Field; Field's influence is indeed palpable throughout Chopin's earliest published entries in the genre. The Three Nocturnes, Op.9 (dedicated to the famous pianist Mme. Camille Pleyel, with whom several noted musicians of the day, including Berlioz and Liszt, fell in love) still betray their stylistic debt to Field, although even at this early stage in his development Chopin's melancholic chromaticism and sinewy melodies stand in stark contrast to the Irish composer's far simpler pieces.

The Nocturne in E-flat major, Op.9, No.2 is very possibly the most famous work ever penned by Chopin. In spite of the many tasteless renditions to which it has been subjected over the years (a great many of them on disc, and by performers of some stature), it remains a work of great charm. Of the three pieces in Opus 9, this is the one most heavily indebted to John Field, both in terms of its direct phrase structure and its rather simple atmosphere. Cast in the kind of two-part song formula beloved of nineteenth-century salon musicians, Op.9, No.2 is one of the briefest of the Nocturnes. There is little space indeed for sloppy sentimentality, even within the striking little cadenza that concludes the work.