Nocturne No.13

Gabriel Fauré

Nocturne No.13 in B minor

Op. 119

About this work

This is Fauré's last nocturne and it stands as a profound farewell to the form that served him so well throughout his career. It is an introverted composition, mostly meditative in the outer sections, but quite restless and unsettling in its lengthy central episode. Its form reverts to that of the earlier nocturnes with a dark, mostly gentle theme presented at the outset, followed by a livelier, agitated middle section and a reprise of the opening theme closing out the work. Fauré's harmonic language is far more advanced than that of his first efforts in the genre, the music on the whole sounding stark, nearly bleached of all brightness and sense of hope. The main theme is gentle and melancholy, and in one ecstatic passage blossoms into a passionate outpouring that seems to promise brighter moods -- but they never come. The middle section is agitated and dark, but thrives on defiance, not on a sense of loss or hopelessness. Still, its restless, driven music conveys a feeling of some ultimate disappointment and when the main theme returns in an utterly despairing mood, that sense is realized. This masterful work typically has a duration of eight minutes.