The key of this lament (‘con malinconia’ instructs Gottschalk) is appropriately sombre E flat minor. After a recitativo introduction, the melody, which could pass for a minor-key variation on Bobby Shaftoe
but is actually a Louisiana folk song known as Lolotte
or Pov’ piti Lolotte
, proceeds with knell-like tolling in the bass, invested with increasingly lavish treatment, until the sparse coda. The final fff arpeggio flourish, at odds with the rest of the piece, looks suspiciously like applause-garnering.
from notes by Jeremy Nicholas © 1994