Hyperion Records

Nocturne, Op 43 No 2
First line:
La nuit sur le grand mystère
composer
1886, published as Op 43 No 2, E flat major (original key) 3/4 Andante
author of text
Éblouissement

Recordings
'Fauré: The Complete Songs, Vol. 4 – Dans un parfum de roses' (CDA67336)
Fauré: The Complete Songs, Vol. 4 – Dans un parfum de roses
Details

Nocturne, Op 43 No 2
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This beautiful song, one of two settings from Villiers de l’Isle-Adam’s mainly prose collection Contes cruels (1883), deserves to be sung more often. It can boast neither an exceptional melody, nor a chance for a singer to make a dramatic impression. But it does conjure a mood of infinite peace and calm, the composer’s own ‘calme, luxe et volupté’. The poet’s title, Éblouissement, implies a dazzling sight, exclamation marks (omitted by the composer) betokening a heady enthusiasm. Fauré is far more en sourdine; his heading, Nocturne (he had already written his first five nocturnes for piano) prepares us better for the languid unfolding of this music in a muted tessitura. At the moments when the 3/4 rhythm gives way to a rocking 6/8 one might even think of a berceuse. The form is essentially AAB. In the first two strophes the home key of E flat is reached relatively easily after momentary excursions into E flat minor and G flat major. The third strophe is more exploratory and takes us on a more restless tonal journey; we reach E flat major at the end but only after an unexpected detour into G minor for the word ‘beauté!’. If the poet rejoices in the possession of his beloved, the composer mourns her unavailability with only a momentary loss of composure.

from notes by Graham Johnson © 2005

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