John McCabe's Nocturnal For Piano Quintet was composed in 1966, commissioned by the Park Lane Group, London, and first performed by the Lancaster University Ensemble.
Duration: Approximately 13 minutes.
The title of this work is a reference to John Donne's poem A Nocturnal upon St Lucie's Day, the mood of which is reflected in the quintet. It falls into several movements, played without a break: Introduction (Andante), setting forth the main thematic ideas of the music; Nocturne 1 (Allegro vivo), an agitated, virtuoso, scherzo-like section; a tripartite central part of the work consisting of two Cadenzas framing a brief Interlude, the first Cadenza being largely for strings, the second mainly for piano, and the Interlude harking back to the feeling of the Introduction; Nocturne 2 (Andante molto), a slow piece gradually building to a unison theme on strings accompanied by a tolling piano background. This dies down to lead to an Epilogue, ending with a final reference to the work's opening bars.