Frédéric Chopin

Nocturnes (2) for piano, Op. 37, CT. 118-119

    Description by Blair Johnston

    Once regarded as the high-water mark of his work in the form, the two Nocturnes of Frédéric Chopin's Opus 37 gradually fell into disservice during the course of the twentieth century. They are, nevertheless, wonderful specimens, being something of a hybrid between the more dramatic Opus 27 and the far simpler textures and moods of Opus 32. It is perhaps important that Robert Schumann considered these two works to be examples of Chopin at his finest, declaring them to be "of that nobler kind under which poetic ideality gleams more transparently (than the earlier Nocturnes)."

    The first of the pair, the Nocturne in G minor, Op. 37/1, is cast in the characteristic three-part (ternary) form. The opening and closing sections are of great sadness; the initially restrained primary theme quickly gains in passion upon its repetition some 16 bars into the piece, and only the sudden intrusion of a subito piano dynamic during the second phrase of the repetition curtails the torment. Consolation is found in the chorale-like chords of the central section of the piece; the texture is absolutely plain: not a single eighth note interrupts the procession of steady, quarter note chords, and no dynamic above piano is allowed by the composer. Some biographers have felt that this music represented Chopin's faith in the consoling power of religion. The reprise of the opening section is literal (if truncated to some degree).

    The Nocturne in G major, Op. 34/2, is of an altogether different breed, with its barcarolle-like meter and sweet melody in parallel voices. It is quite possible that this particular Nocturne was composed during or shortly after Chopin's 1838 stay with writer George Sand on the Island of Majorca, and that something of the warmer Mediterranean climate crept into the composer's pen. The second theme of the Nocturne, a simple tune that varies very little from its initial pattern, has been judged by many to be the most beautiful melody Chopin ever composed (Chopin recorded that he himself felt the melody of the E major etude from Opus 10 to be his finest such achievement); at any rate, the theme is certainly a musical embodiment of the "less is more" doctrine. This second theme returns after a truncated reprise of the opening, more active material, and it wins out once again at the end of the piece.

    Parts/Movements

    1. No. 11 in G minor
    2. No. 12 in G major

    Appears On

    Year Title Label Catalog #
    2015 DG Deutsche Grammophon 4795448
    2014 Rewind REW 518
    2014 RCA Red Seal 88843003502
    2013 Warner Classics
    2012 EMI Classics / Warner Classics 5099967873
    2012 EMI Classics
    2012 Zephyr Records Z 14311
    2012 Apex
    2011 RCA Red Seal 886919369120
    2011 DG Deutsche Grammophon 4779908
    2011 Pavane ADW 75323
    2010 Cascavelle 3141
    2010 Deutsche Grammophon / DG Deutsche Grammophon 002894778445
    2010 Oehms Classics 779
    2010 Calliope 3351
    2010 DG Deutsche Grammophon 4775718
    2010 Harmonia Mundi 50143031
    2010 Sony Classical 88697690412
    2010 EMI Classics
    2010 Zig Zag Territoires 1002032
    2010 RCA Red Seal / Sony Classical 88697704062
    2010 EMI Classics / Warner Classics 5099945535
    2010 Decca 4782282
    2010 Decca 478 218-2
    2010 Decca 14053
    2009 Deutsche Grammophon / DG Deutsche Grammophon 4778167
    2009 DG Deutsche Grammophon
    2009 Sony BMG / Sony Classical 88697577072
    2009 Dux Records 650
    2009 Denon Records
    2009 X5 Music Group 15582
    2008 Bridge 9276
    2008 Decca 001212402
    2008 Brilliant Classics 93217
    2008 ZYX Classics 100522
    2008 EMI Classics
    2008 EMI Classics / Warner Classics 5099950966
    2008 Arte Nova 636380
    2008 Arte Nova Classics 304941
    2008 Hyperion 44351
    2008 Bella Musica / Zebralution
    2007 Brilliant Classics 93529
    2007 Apex 4643742
    2006 DG Deutsche Grammophon 000580402
    2006 Brilliant 99802
    2005 Harmonia Mundi 2901430/31
    2005 DG Deutsche Grammophon 002894775242
    2004 Cascavelle 3064
    2004 Hyperion SACDA67371/2
    2004 Hyperion CDA67371/2
    2004 Alba 190
    2004 DG Deutsche Grammophon 000344902
    2003 Forlane 126817
    2003 EMI Classics
    2002 Urtext 48
    2002 DG Deutsche Grammophon 469350
    2002 Camerata Records 20CM634/5
    2002 Dutton Laboratories 9715
    2001 BCI Music (Brentwood Communication) / BCI-Eclipse Distribution 545
    2001 Aura Classics 0230
    2001 Classica d'Oro 3011
    2001 Rca Red Seal 63026
    2001 Rca Red Seal 63005
    2000 EMI Music Distribution 73830
    2000 Rca Red Seal 63049
    1999 DG Deutsche Grammophon 463 047-2GCE17
    1999 Naxos 501501
    1999 Naxos 554532
    1999 Calliope 9281/2
    1999 Agora Musica 232
    1999 DG Deutsche Grammophon 463 057-2
    1999 Grammofono 2000 78861
    1999 Philips 456 805-2PM2
    1999 Philips 462232
    1999 Classical Collection 62000
    1999 RCA Red Seal 63000
    1998 Hyperion CDD22013
    1998 Arte Nova 74321 54451-2
    1998 Koch 317972
    1998 Intersound 1739
    1997 Teldec 18949
    1997 Point 265044
    1997 Concord 42044
    1997 Eclipse Records 64354
    1997 DG Deutsche Grammophon 453 022-2GTA2
    1997 Harmonia Mundi 7901431
    1997 London 452579
    1997 Philips 456336
    1997 London 443738
    1996 DG Deutsche Grammophon 447096
    1995 Classical Heritage 1214
    1995 Madacy 5642
    1995 ZYX Music 4141
    1995 Vox 5146
    1995 Arabesque 6653
    1995 London
    1995 Vox 3501
    1995 Madacy 9116
    1995 Madacy 7630
    1994 Madacy 21015
    1994 Philips 442266
    1994 Naxos 550357
    1993 EMI Music Distribution / Warner Classics 0777764933
    1993 Sony Music Distribution 53249
    1993 Harmonia Mundi 901430
    1993 Olympia (Classical/Jazz) 254
    1992 Teldec 72297
    1992 EMI Music Distribution 64491
    1992 Madacy 56423
    1991 Elektra 79233
    1991 RCA Victor GD60822
    1990 Hyperion 66341/2
    1990 DG Deutsche Grammophon 429154
    1989 DG Deutsche Grammophon 423788
    1988 DG Deutsche Grammophon 423916
    1986 Philips 416 440-2PH2
    Philips 468391
    EMI Music Distribution 55073
    Classic World Productions, Inc. 5002
    Powder Classics 5083
    Connoisseur Society CD4211
    Imperial Classics 62012
    Dux Records 645
    Forlane 16802
    London 414564
    Ricercar 132116
    Analekta 7701
    RCA 5613
    Brilliant 99802/5
    EMI Music Distribution 74457
    Nuova Era 7209
    EMI Music Distribution 74457
    Selene 930178
    Philips 464694
    RCA Victor 60822
    Grammofono 2000 78654
    Canyon Classics 3642
    Decca 4758046
    Pilz 160206