About this work
This Barcarolle came in the latter part of Chopin's career, when his health was deteriorating from tuberculosis and his relationship with George Sand, one of the most successful novelists of her day, was beginning to crumble. But he remained fairly productive during this period and produced, among other compositions, this quite upbeat Barcarolle in F major. While it exhibits the rocking lilt associated with this genre of works, it does not invoke images of gondolas on waterways or other aquatic scenes. This piece is lushly Romantic throughout, both in musical style and in emotional temperament. The main theme, heard over a gentle swaying rhythm, exudes a brightness, an almost ecstatic glow in its long-breathed character and angular shape, fluttering here and turning charmingly demure there, then welling up with sweet passion before descending so elegantly. A sense of passion grows in the middle section buildup, too, but the music seems constrained here from reaching the ecstatic outpourings it alludes to until the return of the main theme, which first appears in a somewhat varied form and is played at a livelier tempo. After a reprise of it in its original guise, it reappears as the variant and leads to a passionate climax of great beauty. A lovely, playful coda closes out this masterpiece.