Poulenc’s fourth Nocturne, with its hint of the seventh of Chopin’s Op 28 Preludes, has a kind of lazy rhetoric but always coloured with the composer’s characteristic piquancy. Among his series of eight nocturnes, it is one of the few that actually fits the title in its traditional sense. Subtitled ‘Bal fantôme’, it is prefaced by a quote from the novel Le visionnaire
by the writer Julien Green, a friend of the composer: an invalid, confined to his sick-bed, hears distant strains of a ball and recalls happier times of his youth. The sly semitonal movement gives those distant memories of the waltz a distinctly twentieth-century edge.
from notes by Harriet Smith © 2012