Nocturne No.1

Gabriel Fauré

Nocturne No.1 in Eb major

Op. 33/1

About this work

This Nocturne probably dates to 1875, but may have been written in the following year or two. Published along with the Nocturnes No. 2 and No. 3 in 1883, it exhibits the influence of Chopin in its form: a dark, gentle main theme appears in the opening section, followed by a somewhat agitated and livelier middle section, after which the opening theme is reprised and a short coda is given to close out the work. Actually, while the influence of Chopin is structurally noticeable, it can be heard in the dark, Romantic sonorities, as well. But Fauré also augurs early Rachmaninov here, too, especially in the harmonies emanating from the bass range. The main theme is gentle and reflective, not sad, but filled with a sweet gloom, the music seeming always in descent here. The lengthy middle section starts almost as if it were a new piece: after a pause, an ominous swirling figure in the bass is heard, over which a stately if agitated theme in the upper-middle register is played. Tension gradually builds and is only slowly released, the main theme then returning for a lovely reprise. The masterful brief coda contains dark reminiscences of both themes. This piece typically lasts seven minutes.