Nocturne No.4

About this work

The Nocturne No. 4 is generally considered superior to the first three and among the finest Fauré produced. Published in 1885 along with the Fifth, it more or less follows the same tripartite form he used in the earlier nocturnes, a model used by Chopin: a lyrical, subdued main theme frames a more animated middle section -- in this case, a quite ecstatic and powerful one. Of course, Fauré got the most out of this relatively simple form, and in the end often rivaled Chopin in this genre. The main theme here has a wistful, slightly sentimental quality, but never turns saccharine, in large part because Fauré's harmonies are always imaginative, though they may often sound simple. The composer often forged them from the main theme, and thus deftly imparted contrapuntal aspects to the music. The middle section begins tranquilly and in a subdued, mysterious manner, but gradually builds tension and reaches a ravishingly beautiful climax, after which the main theme is reprised. The piece concludes with a lovely coda, brilliantly fashioned from the previous materials. This lovely and quite profound piece typically lasts seven or eight minutes.