The final Nocturnes
form a summa of Fauré’s art. And although Nocturne No 11 is an elegy, composed in memory of Noémi Lalo, wife of the critic Pierre Lalo, its tolling funeral bells surely echo Fauré’s own state of heart. Nos 9 and 10, too, find him wrestling with the malaise that overtook him in his final years, where what has been called the ‘première matin du monde’ atmosphere of earlier times is conjured out of existence with a slow central climb in Nocturne No 10 that inhabits a world of nightmare. In No 12, with its sudden descents and strenuous attempts at stability, the ecstatic song of No 6 is transformed in a central section where lyricism is soured by dissonance, held up as it were to a distorting mirror. Finally Nocturne No 13, a truly epic completion of the the series: the funereal overtones of the outer sections quickly accelerate into a frenetic, wildly cascading uproar before a coda where that insistent note of elegy reaches its final apotheosis—one where grief and courage are indissolubly united.
from notes by Bryce Morrison © 1995