Nocturne No.11

Frédéric Chopin

Nocturne No.11 in G minor

Op. 37/1, B. 119

About this work

Once widely regarded as the high-water mark of his work in the form, the two Nocturnes of Frédéric Chopin's Opus 37 gradually fell into disservice during over the course of the twentieth-century. They are, nevertheless, wondrous specimens of Nocturne form, being something of a hybrid between the more dramatic examples found in the composer's Opus 27 and the far simpler textures and moods of the two Opus 32 Nocturnes. It is perhaps important that Robert Schumann considered these two works to be examples of Chopin at his finest, declaring them to be "of that nobler kind under which poetic ideality gleams more transparently ." The first of the pair, the Nocturne in G minor, Op.37, No.1, is cast in the characteristic three-part (ternary) form. The opening and closing sections are of great sadness indeed; the initially restrained primary theme quickly gains in passion upon its repetition some sixteen bars into the piece, and only the sudden intrusion of a subito piano dynamic during the second phrase of the repetition curtails the tormented outpouring of grief. Consolation is found, or at least hinted at longingly, in the chorale-like chords of the central, E-flat major section of the piece. The texture is absolutely plain: not a single eighth-note interrupts the procession of steady, quarter-note chords, and no dynamic above piano is allowed by the composer. The reprise of the opening section is quite literal (if truncated to some degree)-the renewal of such anguish after having tasted the comfort of the middle section (which, some feel, hints very strongly at the composer's belief in the consoling power of religion), however, casts the material in a very different emotional light.