In 1837 Chopin composed his well-known Funeral service March, which would wind up serving as the third motion in his Second Piano Sonata. This Largo, from that same year, shares the same type of sobriety and glacial pacing, though its expressive language is a bit easier and its mood not as dark. That said, it is among those pieces whose demeanor and expressive soul is hard to identify: was Chopin expressing grief in this march-like piece, or was he attempting to portray some brave event or mood in this solemn but regal production? In the end, one may guess that this was another of the author’s intimate pieces indicated to reveal whatever eccentric desire motivated him at the moment.
This Largo is controlled by a solemn style whose slow, processional gait and muscular grayness seem to straddle the worlds of sorrow and heroism without ever devoting to either. Its sporadic textures and lack of feeling recommend the composer remained in an experimental state of mind of sorts, though there are no uncommon or striking harmonies or other qualities that may identify the piece. In the end, one can just conclude with affordable certainty that Chopin had chosen to write a solitary composition whose outcome did not please even him. He did not seek publication of the piece in his lifetime and the work, in fact, would not emerge in print until 1938.