Chopin Project Artistic Director Arthur Greene calls Chopin’s last nocturne a curious, but moving, work:

“It is rarely played.  Its absolute simplicity of texture may lead performers to experiment with ornamentation, but I believe that it is an expression of Chopin’s new direction, in the difficult few years at the end of his life, towards a directness and purity of expression.  The Polonaise-Fantasy has somewhat the same mood, although it is much more elaborate.  The little nocturne is a tragic whisper.”

Chopin Biographer Arthur Hedley once wrote: “From the great Italian singers of the age [Chopin] learned the art of ‘singing’ on the piano, and his nocturnes reveal the perfection of his cantabile style and delicate charm of ornamentation.”

Recent scholarship by some musicologists hear the song of a sorrowful Venetian gondolier (borrowed from Italian opera composer Giaocchino Rossini, whom Chopin greatly admired) in the undulating Nocturne in C minor, the 21st and final essay in the genre that Chopin perfected. It dates from 1847, just two years before Chopin’s death, but was not published until decades later.

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