A characteristic rhythmic figure in the mazurkas of Chopin is a dotted quaver and semiquaver on the first beat of the (34) bar followed by two crotchets: Op 30 No 2 in D flat and Op 7 No 5 in B flat, for example. (The latter, it might be noted, is dedicated to ‘Monsieur Johns de Nouvelle Orléans’, a ‘distinguished amateur from New Orleans’ as Chopin described him when introducing him to Heller … so Louis Moreau was not, then, the first pianist from his home town to make an impression in Paris.) After an introduction of fourteen bars, Gottschalk’s gracefully playful theme emerges, a young man’s homage to the Polish master. E flat gives way to a central section in A flat before an octave repeat of the initial subject decorated with typical Gottschalkian étincelles in the upper reaches of the keyboard. La Scintilla
was first published in New York in 1854.
from notes by Jeremy Nicholas © 2000