About this work
The Nocturnes No. 4 and No. 5 were both published in 1885, with the former generally and deservedly attracting greater attention over the years. This B flat major effort, however, is a beautiful and quite compelling work in its own right. As a nocturne, it possesses some unusual features, not least of which being its opening waltz rhythm. Still, it has the general tripartite structure of Fauré's previous nocturnes, wherein a lovely lyrical section frames a livelier central episode. Yet there is greater complexity here than that description suggests. The work opens with an elegant, lovely theme that yields a dreamy and playful episode at the ends of its phrases, losing the waltz-like accompaniment. The music takes on a more serious, even somewhat intense manner as it progresses, while never veering away from its innate lyrical warmth. The middle section is based on the playful episode that served to punctuate the main theme. Here, it is more animated and angular though, and builds to an ecstatic climax. The main theme is reprised and there is a brief, subdued coda to close out this approximately eight-minute gem.