Nocturne No.6

Gabriel Fauré

Nocturne No.6 in Db major

Op. 63

About this work

While Fauré wrote a number of important chamber and choral works -- including his great Requiem -- he is better known for his songs and his solo piano works. In the latter category, he wrote about 75 pieces, spanning most of his creative career. He broke a rare, six-year dry spell in keyboard composition with this 1894 Nocturne in D flat major. More importantly, Fauré produced one of his finest works in the genre up to that time. Virtuoso pianist Alfred Cortot was sufficiently impressed by it to declare the effort a masterpiece. This nocturne opens with an initially serene, lovely theme, whose dark and imaginative harmonies impart a melancholy air while auguring something of the sound world in Mahler's later symphonies. Considerable tension is worked up in its exposition before two additional themes appear in the livelier middle section, the latter dreamy and auguring Debussy. Both are imaginatively developed, the former's dissonances heightening the sense of conflict. The main theme returns somewhat altered, yearning one moment, turning gentle and serene the next. This lovely and profound work typically has a duration of nine to ten minutes.