Hyperion Records

Second banjo, RO24 Op 82
composer
? 1853/4; published in Boston in 1873

Recordings
'Gottschalk: Piano Music, Vol. 7' (CDA67478)
Gottschalk: Piano Music, Vol. 7
Buy by post £13.99 (ARCHIVE SERVICE) CDA67478  Archive Service; also available on CDS44451/8  
'Gottschalk: The Complete Solo Piano Music' (CDS44451/8)
Gottschalk: The Complete Solo Piano Music
Buy by post £38.50 CDS44451/8  8CDs Boxed set (at a special price)  
Details
Track 3 on CDA67478 [5'18] Archive Service; also available on CDS44451/8
Track 3 on CDS44451/8 CD7 [5'18] 8CDs Boxed set (at a special price)

Second banjo, RO24 Op 82
EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
Le Banjo, grotesque fantaisie, American sketch (RO22) is the very first piece to appear on CD 1 in this series of recordings. The present work is the rather different original version composed two years earlier but mislabelled ‘2ème Banjo’ and not published until after Gottschalk’s death. By that time ‘Banjo 1’, the version best known today, had long been one of the composer’s most popular works and, it must be admitted, is preferable.

‘Banjo 2’, however, deserves some consideration. It was not the first banjo-piano piece—others had been inspired (if that’s the word) by the banjo craze of the 1840s and ’50s—but it was the most effective and sophisticated in its fusion of two distinct musical cultures. Here was a classical pianist-composer imbued with the mazurkas and operatic fantasies of the Paris salons, personally acquainted with their composers, assimilating the pentatonic chords and African-American style of banjo plucking into a piano piece firmly prescribed by traditional Western musical language. But the piece is more than this. It is not merely a piano-aping-banjo exercise, but a tone picture of the banjo player himself, strutting his stuff on the stage. Not until Debussy’s Minstrels and Golliwogg’s Cakewalk would the world of Stephen Foster and Edwin P Christy’s black-faced minstrels be so piquantly portrayed by a European composer.

Gottschalk first introduced the (2ème) Banjo at a concert in the Mechanics’ Hall, New Orleans, on 1 February 1854. It caused a sensation. There is a review of him playing the piece a few years later. In the Review and Gazette of 29 December 1855, Theodore Hagen wrote that Gottschalk’s ‘nervous touch, his dashing, daring playing, his restless melodic phrasing … created really interesting pictures … of Southern life and Negro enjoyments [rooted in] the soil and, at last, the traditions of its people’.

from notes by Jeremy Nicholas © 2004

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