The Nocturne and Tarantella Op 28 was composed in the same year as Mythes
, 1915. The Nocturne shares initial ground with Mythes
before breaking into spasmodic bursts of Hispanic dance. It has been plausibly suggested by Alistair Wightman that the composer’s constant preoccupation with dance may have related to his physical disability; certainly dance surfaces intermittently in virtually all the major works of Szymanowski’s transitional middle period. The Nocturne attenuates to an enervated conclusion before the febrile onset of the Tarantella, where the distance covered by Szymanowski since the generically comparable Violin Sonata’s finale is immediately apparent. The music oddly combines maniacal rhythmic insistence with the kind of Pierrot-like neurasthenia associated with Debussy’s Cello Sonata. Its strangely unplaceable, yet constantly allusive style is reminiscent also in a general way of Busoni, not least through the final, apparently mischievous nod at convention in an unambiguous ‘perfect’ cadence. A natural—if sophisticated—crowd-pleaser, the work was later orchestrated by Grzegorz Fitelberg.
from notes by Francis Pott © 2009