One of Gottschalk’s works published posthumously (this in 1879), Hercule
is way beyond the realm of the amateur and requires, indeed, a Herculean pianist to play it at all. It is a prodigiously difficult work though the structure of the piece is simple enough: a jaunty little march tune (which will not leave your head for days) is subjected to different and increasingly difficult pianistic figures. The initial idea is stated over eight bars; thereafter it is extended to sixteen bars incorporating a wonderful ‘wrong-foot’ modulation from the tonic (B major) to D major and back again in time for the next variation, of which there are six in all. The third of these relies on triplets in thirds played by alternate hands, the fourth on huge crossed-hands chords, the sixth using the same device in triplets with alternate thumbs highlighting the melody.
from notes by Jeremy Nicholas © 1997