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#418708 - 12/10/01 04:50 PM Chopin - Nocturne in C# minor (posthumous)
Simon Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/21/01
Posts: 95
Loc: Toronto, Ontario
Henle publishes these two versions:

(1) the so-called 'autograph' version, whatever that means - in parts of the middle section the RH is 3/4 time while the LH remains common time:

(2) what seems to be the more common version - the RH in the middle section is played almost in stylized fashion, converting the melody line to common time:

When I first saw these, I rather fancied playing version (1) - i.e. those parts in the middle section in a more-or-less straight 3/4, albeit slowing down the tempo somewhat to 'sync' with the LH. It justs seemed more smooth and lyrical that way. Now I'm not so sure. From a search on mp3.com it would seem that everyone plays version (2). In my (possibly mistaken, uneducated?) view, that interpretation seems incongruous, almost jarring compared to the other.

Which version would (do) you play? I would be grateful for any comments, opinions. What would the reasons be for not playing version (1) - impractical, not musical? Considered incorrect?

A related question: the statement that Chopin expressly did not wish this piece to be published weighs somewhat on me in deciding whether to play it or not. The knowledge that Chopin possibly did not want the piece to be played, is almost enough for me to forget it and go on to some other piece. Again, I would be glad for any opinions or insights.

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#418709 - 12/10/01 10:24 PM Re: Chopin - Nocturne in C# minor (posthumous)
Jerry Maddux Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/10/01
Posts: 24
Loc: Gulfport, MS

You're right about most people playing version 2 of that passage. I've never seen version 1 before today, and I must admit that it doesn't look correct to me for a couple of reasons. The first thing is that the way that the R.H. is positioned (the 3/4) is out of keeping with how it should be played. Now, this could be do to an error in copying, but the notes don't line up visually in the score where they should. The first 8th note of the R.H. should line up with the third 8th note of the L.H., since they are both simple meters. The notes of each hand shouldn't be staggered. So, playing the passage like you said, "slowing down the tempo somewhat to 'sync' with the LH" is absolutely correct.

The 2nd reason is the use of 3/4 in the R.H.
This in itself is very peculiar for Chopin. It would be simpler to just write the R.H. as an irregular rhythm. Version 1 really isn't correct from a rhythmic standpoint. Version 2 is more correct and I think more in line with what Chopin really intended.

Now, the fact that Chopin did not want this piece published probably explains these incongruities. To place it with the other nocturnes, it's really not one of his best. There are many others worth considering.

One of the nocturnes I'm particulary fond of is the first one in Bbm, op. 9, no. 1. It is often overlooked in favor of the more popular ones but it contains much great music. Another one I absolutely love and should be popular is the one in F#, op. 15, no. 2. It is dramatic, tender, passionate, and exquisite at the same time. And of course there are the more popular ones like the Eb and Db, but if you get a chance look through them all, because each one is unique. (Sorry for the long post, I tend to be a bit wordy at times \:D )


#418710 - 12/11/01 12:36 AM Re: Chopin - Nocturne in C# minor (posthumous)
Simon Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/21/01
Posts: 95
Loc: Toronto, Ontario
Thanks for the load off my mind, Jerry. It helps! No problem with wordiness at all. I've saved a copy of your note for future reference.

#418711 - 12/11/01 01:14 AM Re: Chopin - Nocturne in C# minor (posthumous)
magnezium Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 722
Loc: Singapore
Some background on this nocturne. If I'm not wrong, this one was written by Chopin for his sister, who wanted to play the F Minor Concerto. But Chopin thought the concerto was too difficult for her, so he wrote this nocturne, which has a number of themes from the concerto. If you're familiar with this nocturne, listen to the concerto and you'll hear the similarities right away. Maybe this could be the reason why it was not published.

About 3/4 vs 4/4, the tune in the right-hand is written out in 3/4 in the concerto, maybe this is why Chopin left it in 3/4. I remember reading somewhere that it is remarkable that Chopin should have thought of such notation in 1830, and that this polymetrical (whatever it means) combination is regarded as a 20th century development.

As to which version to play, I would say pick the one you're most comfortable with. To quote from Arthur Rubinstein, "In Chopin one shouldn't discuss such things. Chopin changed his works constantly..."

And by the way, I'm very, very fond of this nocturne... \:\)

[ December 11, 2001: Message edited by: magnezium ]

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#418712 - 12/11/01 05:06 PM Re: Chopin - Nocturne in C# minor (posthumous)
Simon Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/21/01
Posts: 95
Loc: Toronto, Ontario
Thanks Magnezium, I'll have to give that concerto a listen (your note goes on my HD too btw.. \:\) ).


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