The Nocturnes span the whole of Chopin’s career, and among them are some of the composer’s most beloved works, such as the infinitely tender and graceful Op. 9 No. 2 in E-flat. But they can also be viewed as a sort of experiment chamber, where Chopin, so to speak in the obscurity of the dark, tries out some of his most daring harmonic and formal inventions.
Mention is often made of the influence on Chopin of the Irishman John Field, generally credited as the father of the nocturne. While there is no doubt that links exist between the two, it’s also certain that Chopin’s temperament was quite different from that of his predecessor, as was the range of his modes of expression. Liszt wrote: “Chopin, in his poetic Nocturnes, sang not only the harmonies which are the source of our most ineffable delights, but likewise the restless, agitating bewilderment to which they often give rise”.