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In the book Chopin: Pianist and Teacher: As Seen by his Pupils I found a fragment which shows 2 variants (at least that's what it looks like to me) of bar 24 of Nocturne op. 9 no 2, presented by Chopin to one of his pupils:

[Here is] a variant [bar 24] often added by Chopin and indicated to me by Mr Makomaski, a pupil of Tellefsen: The variant of Nocturne op. 9 no 2 bar 24 described by one of Chopin's pupils

But the problem I'm having is that it seems to me the rhythmical values don't add up in these variants.

For comparison, this is the original bar 24 from the 1st edition of the music score: The original Nocturne op. 9 no 2 bar 24

You can see it's much shorter than either of the variants and the rhythmic values add up perfectly.

In this book there are also some other modifications/variants of Nocturne op. 9 no 2, but they all look fine, it's only these 2 that I'm having problems with.

Can this be a mistake? Or can it actually happen that the bar is too long (and maybe you're suppose to "squeeze" the notes to fit)?

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  • I have another question. In the French first edition, why is there an extra note squeezed in beat 5?
    – Vighnesh
    Jan 13 at 15:01

1 Answer 1

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In a cadenza-like passage, the notes are not given in exact rhythm. Instead, one "squeezes them in" or prolongs the measure via rubato. Such passages are often notated with smaller note heads, as is the case in the two variants shown.

Passages like this are common in Chopin. Here's another example from his C# minor Nocturne:

Chopin Nocturne in C# minor, mm. 55–60

The runs in measures 58 – 60 are indicated as tuplets, but they are not intended to be played in strict metrical cohesion with the left hand. They are played more freely than that. The scales themselves should be more-or-less even, but the musical goal is just that the start and end points should align. In between, the scale itself can increase and decrease in speed, and the left hand, which is the "metronome", can stretch or contract the meter. The specific pacing and alignment is determined by the interpreter.

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