Nocturne No.2

About this work

Fauré's nocturnes generally feature brighter moods and a less typically nocturnal character than Chopin's. This Nocturne No. 2, like its other two siblings in the set, No. 1 and No. 3, presents a lovely, lyrical theme that frames a more animated middle section. The form here follows the Chopin model, which itself derives from the nocturnes of John Field. The main theme to this B major effort is gentle, somewhat wistful, and dreamy. It is underpinned by Fauré's imaginative and quite unique harmonies -- harmonies typically rooted in the thematic material, thereby making them at times contrapuntal in nature and filled with all sorts of interesting detail. The middle section here is one of the liveliest and most driven Fauré ever produced in a nocturne. It begins darkly, with a somewhat sinister, almost Lisztian manic drive as it descends on the keyboard and then races upward from the bass regions, only to sweeten its menacing character with music of romantic warmth and a sense of playfulness. Both these dark and lyrical elements have further, sometimes intense exchanges before the main theme reappears for a lovely reprise. A short, misty coda closes out this approximately six-minute piece.