This is the first of Chopin’s Noc­turnes, writ­ten when he was on­ly about twen­ty. My love is not specif­i­cal­ly for this piece but for all twenty-one Noc­turnes, but that’s hours of mu­sic and you have to start some­where. No more beau­ti­ful mu­sic for pi­ano has ev­er been writ­ten.

Chopin Op. 9, Nocturne No. 1

Eleven years ago I wrote a big long blog piece on the Noc­turnes, with pic­tures and lots of ex­po­si­tion; if you want to find out more, it’s a good place to start and I’m not go­ing to re­it­er­ate. How­ev­er, I did learn a cou­ple of things when I popped up the Wikipedia ar­ti­cle on this piece. First, it was ded­i­cat­ed to Mme Camille Pleyel, a pi­anist who was Chopin’s con­tem­po­rary and ap­par­ent­ly quite a col­or­ful per­son. Al­so, #2 in the se­ries of Noc­turnes is “regarded as Chopin’s most fa­mous piece”. Sor­ry, I’m stick­ing with No. 1. Be­cause it sounds like an in­vi­ta­tion. The right thing to do is sit down late at night with an adult bev­er­age and lis­ten to all the Noc­turnes end-to-end.

In 2018, I stand by my 2007 rec­om­men­da­tion for Arrau’s 1997 record­ing of the Noc­turnes. Which may be un­fair; loads of su­perb pi­anists have record­ed it, no­body could pos­si­bly have lis­tened to all of them care­ful­ly, and quite like­ly some will please some sets of ears more than Ar­rau does mine.

This is part of the Song of the Day se­ries (back­ground).

Links · Spo­ti­fy playlist. This tune on Ama­zon, iTunes, Spo­ti­fy. I can’t find live video of Ar­rau do­ing this, but there is no short­age. Here’s a nice re­laxed take by Yun­di Li. Shut your eyes and lean back; it’s not very long.


Comment feed for ongoing:Comments feed

From: g (Apr 03 2018, at 19:02)

The Lisitsa YouTube link currently goes to op 9 no 2 not op 9 no 1. It doesn't look as if YouTube has her playing op 9 no 1.

The link to your "big long blog piece" is currently broken -- it's missing an "/ongoing" from the URL.

(I will not be in any way offended if you choose to fix those silently and not bother publishing this comment.)


From: GS (Apr 04 2018, at 07:06)

The link to the "big long blog post" is broken. Would love to read that blog post if you could fix the link.


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