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Published on Oct 5, 2010
This is an enigma of a nocturne. There are many things written about it , all trying to explain it away, to make sense of it. You probably heard about " death in Venice, murder perhaps.. ....body silently covered by soft waves while the moon keeps shining etc ".....Ah , all this romantic stuff - I will add just my two cents worth, no more ... If Nocturnes are indeed songs of love , this one has strong undertones of jealousy , betrayal and , ultimately , death. It hauntingly fascinating -- but you can't call it beautiful. Just think about the meloldy here - where is it ??? and can you call this strange and gratingly chromatic chant a melody ? Or .... another question , which key IS it -- C sharp minor or major? Is it a half-smile or half-cry?...The melody very soon becomes a duet -- and then middle part comes all of a sudden as a violent burst of energy and action. I don't recall any other piece of Chopin (supposedly effeminate and weakling invalid of a composer ) where he would use triple forte- fortissimo so boldly ( that is like FFF forte !)The octave recitative in the left hand before the recap sounds like a curse . The most telling and poignant remark however is reserved for the very last "words" of the duet before the coda: Chopin writes " con duolo" (with grief) - the last farewell of unhappy lovers perhaps... PS. For those visual people ( like myself LOL) here is a perfect visual match : type pre-Raphaelites into Google image search -- you will see "Ophelia" and many others that fit the mood and color of the piece perfectly
PSPS. On understanding composer's intent: Chopin often uses remark "con anima". Don't mix it with "animato" . Yes , the root is the same but the meaning and action is opposite. It was made very clear in this nocturne -- in the middle part there are measures marked "con anima" and then come the ones marked "stretto"."Con anima" bars are slowing down. He treated con anima literally -- "with soul" -- not "in an animated way". Russian language has a better direct translation "душевно"!