Saturday, March 04, 2006

Nocturnal High

Nocturnal High

"Used to say, I like me now and again"
- Gazebo (an all-time karaoke favourite)

I spent my evening today listening to Chopin's Nocturnes. I've been enjoying these wonderful pieces ever since I was a teenager and they still bring as much joy and beauty to me as the first time I listened to them.

The Nocturne genre was first invented by the Irish composer John Field but it was brought to the heights of perfection by Chopin. Unlike the more formal classical forms of Sonata or Piano Concerto, the Nocturne is a short and quiet mood piece, like a tonal poem--hence its name, a "night song".

Throughout Chopin's short lifetime of 39 years, he composed about 20 of these pieces, the most widely known one, I believe is Nocturne in E-Flat, Op. 9, No. 2. Most piano students would be familiar with this piece as it is relatively short and "easy" to play. My personal favourite is the B Flat Minor Opus 9 No. 1, composed by Chopin when he was 22 years old.

Chopin, whose works are almost entirely composed for the pianoforte. represents the true spirit of the Romantic Era. Who could produce pieces more luscious in mood and feeling than this poet of the piano? His Nocturnes are so ornately touching, so full of heart-wrenching melancholy, listening to them makes me feel like a love-sick schoolboy all over again.

Whenever I feel I'm getting too caught up again in my cold and analytical mode of thinking, all I need to do is to doubleclick on my Chopin MP3 collection, and allow myself to be washed away by the sheer lushness of the music. It is kind of reassuring to know that I am still capable of feeling "romantic".

A critic once wrote: "Chopin s nocturnes...plunge us into reveries more delicious than the visions of an opium eater." I couldn't agree more. With music like Chopin's Nocturnes, who needs drugs?

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