Frédéric Chopin

Nocturne for piano No. 16 in E flat major, Op. 55/2, CT. 123

    Description by Blair Johnston

    Frédéric Chopin's penultimate group of Nocturnes (only the Opus 67 pair were composed at a later date: all the posthumously published Nocturnes were actually the work of the composer's younger days), the Two Nocturnes, Op.55, have had a turbulent and often unhappy history. While most musicians of the late-Twentieth Century regarded them as two of the finest entries in the genre, during much of the Nineteenth and early Twentieth Century the pair was ignored by the majority of concertizing pianists. (Such sweeping changes of general opinion are often very informative: during the same Victorian period that the Opus 55 Nocturnes were in disservice the Opus 37 Nocturnes were widely considered the most masterful of the entire collection, while a hundred years later the precisely opposite view reigns). Certainly it is easy to understand the professional neglect heaped on the Nocturne in F minor, Op.55, No.1, which, due to its relative technical ease, has become the property of amateurs and students around the globe. The E-flat Nocturne, Op.55, No.2, however, is a work of extraordinary power and a testament to both the masterly command of Chopin's later years and the distance he has traveled since the Fieldian Nocturnes of his Opus 9. The Nocturne in E-flat major, Op.55, No.2, however, is a different matter altogether. Few pieces are less suitable for such an instructive purpose as that described above, and yet few are so eminently rewarding a musical experience. Here there is no discreet, sectional form, but rather a continuously developing melodic strand. If this causes a certain brand of monotony, then it is the same brand of monotony that one's own inner stream of consciousness can, at times, engender. It is as if the composer has abandoned all the external trappings of Nocturne "form" in order to place a greater emphasis on the essence of the genre's sentiment. The interested student of Chopin would do well to make a careful comparison of this work with the more famous E flat Nocturne (Op.9, No.2): the contrast is striking, and the greater skill of the later work cannot be overstated. A worthy coda (containing, around twelve bars from the end, a modulation of the finest and most expressive kind) serves as a conclusion to this unique work.

    Appears On

    Year Title Label Catalog #
    2015 Warner Classics 0825646129799
    2015 DG Deutsche Grammophon 4794350
    2015 Doremi Records DHR 8036
    2015 DG Deutsche Grammophon B002364402
    2014 Steinway & Sons STNS 30038
    2014 Brilliant Classics 94930BR
    2014 ArcoDiva UP 0139
    2014 United Classics T 2CD2013024
    2014 DG Deutsche Grammophon
    2013 Piano Classics PCL 0049
    2013 Delos DE 3460
    2012 ATMA Classique ACD 22666
    2012 DG Deutsche Grammophon
    2012 MDG / Zebralution
    2012 Alto MCSCD 2012
    2012 Supraphon SU 40972
    2012 K2 HD / Sony Classical 3424
    2012 Sony Classical 88725449602
    2012 Masterworks / Sony Classical 548960
    2012 Masterworks
    2012 EMI Classics 02898
    2011 DG Deutsche Grammophon
    2011 Fryderyk Chopin Institute NIFCCD 613
    2011 Fryderyk Chopin Institute NIFCCD 612
    2011 Newton Classics 8802076
    2011 BIS SACD 1838
    2011 Decca
    2011 Red Bus Classical RCLAS 012
    2011 TGG Direct 60213
    2011 Gall (formerly Gallo) / Gallo CD 1325
    2011 EMI Classics
    2011 EMI Classics / Warner Classics 5099994984927
    2011 Fryderyk Chopin Institute NIFCCD000020
    2010 DG Deutsche Grammophon 13960
    2010 DG Deutsche Grammophon 477 755-7
    2010 EMI Classics / Warner Classics 5099945533
    2010 Hyperion 4442135
    2010 DG Deutsche Grammophon
    2010 Decca / DG Deutsche Grammophon 4778618
    2010 Denon Records
    2010 EMI Classics / Warner Classics 5099996711
    2010 Alto 1119
    2010 Brilliant Classics 94048
    2010 EMI Classics / Warner Classics 5099960839
    2010 Fryderyk Chopin Institute 20
    2010 Decca
    2010 Mother's Love 52180
    2010 Capriccio Records 7039
    2010 Chandos 10588
    2010 Arbiter 158
    2010 Opening Day Recordings 9381
    2010 Denon Records
    2010 Hyperion 55353
    2009 Denon Records
    2009 Deutsche Grammophon / DG Deutsche Grammophon / Universal Music Classics and Jazz 001382602
    2009 Denon Records
    2009 Centaur Records 2956
    2009 Sony Music Distribution 88697575002
    2008 Quartz 2022
    2008 Brilliant Classics 93217
    2008 Rca Red Seal 68560
    2008 Klavier Records 11096
    2008 Sony Classical Essential Classics 731846
    2007 Decca 4758592
    2007 Centaur Records 2879
    2007 Sony Music 5301220
    2007 Soho / Soho Latino / Union Square Music SOHOCD024
    2007 DG Deutsche Grammophon 734046
    2007 Erato / Virgin Classics 0946385784
    2007 Simply / Union Square Music 47
    2007 Classical Records 83
    2007 Decca
    2006 Camerata Records 15040
    2006 BCI Music (Brentwood Communication) 41429
    2006 Takt 1501/15
    2006 DG Deutsche Grammophon 2894776156
    2005 Artemis Classics 1640
    2005 MDG 6031296
    2005 Nonesuch
    2005 EMI Music Distribution / Warner Classics 7243586507
    2005 Athene 23201
    2005 Brilliant 92202
    2005 Nonesuch
    2004 EMI Music Distribution 62596
    2004 Biddulph Recordings LHW044
    2003 Rca Red Seal 09026639602
    2003 RCA 63960
    2003 Philips 475029
    2003 Delta Distribution 40023
    2003 Laserlight 14228
    2003 EMI Classics 85083
    2002 Romeo Entertainment 7214
    2002 Vox 90110
    2002 Delta Distribution 14582
    2002 Opus KURA 2009
    2002 Hyperion 67285
    1999 Marquis Classics 81235
    1999 Hungaroton 31814
    1999 Naxos 554045
    1999 Palexa 510
    1999 Music & Arts 747
    1999 Philips 462232
    1999 APR (Appian) 5508
    1999 Philips 456784
    1999 Newport Music Festival 1/2
    1998 Ivory Classics 70701
    1998 Nimbus 8814
    1998 EMI Music Distribution / Warner Classics 7243556602
    1998 Philips 462 699-2PM2
    1997 Nimbus 1764
    1997 Nonesuch 79452
    1996 RCA 68164
    1996 EMI Music Distribution 56196
    1996 Laserlight 15844
    1996 Laserlight 14228
    1996 Delos 3190
    1996 Delos 1602
    1995 Madacy Distribution / GMS Records / Madacy LPC-7610
    1995 DG Deutsche Grammophon 437 464-2GX2
    1995 Cambria 1073
    1995 EMI Music Distribution 83177
    1994 Russian Disc 10022
    1994 DM Records 1037
    1994 ASV 6106
    1993 Royal Classics 6408
    1993 Vox Cameo Classics 8756
    1993 Harmonia Mundi 3903027
    1993 Nimbus 1787
    1992 Nimbus 5012
    1992 Pearl IF 2000
    1990 DG Deutsche Grammophon 415123
    1990 Sony Classical 45818
    1989 EMI Music Distribution 49604
    1988 Decca / DG Deutsche Grammophon
    1988 Opal OPALCD9839
    Horacio Nuguid
    One-Eleven 97013
    Protone Records 2208
    Classical Records 007
    DG Deutsche Grammophon 431579
    Agora Musica 024
    Teldec
    Carlton Classics 02357
    Brilliant 92202/3
    DG Deutsche Grammophon 431581
    David Wasser Records
    Grünenthal GCD92
    SCD 6020
    Laserlight 14064
    Laserlight 15961
    Capriccio Records 7040
    Vox 9015
    Biddulph Recordings LAB015
    Master 23028
    Artists 52
    Duet 10
    Denon Records 78842
    Membran 232673
    Delos 3030
    Selene 950225
    Laserlight 35601
    APR (Appian) 7014
    MCA 42211
    Real Sound (RS)
    LPC 7612
    Duet 86