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Bataille 'Étude de concert', RO25 Op 64
? 1867/8; published in New York in 1870 as Op 63; published in Mainz in 1871

'Gottschalk: Piano Music, Vol. 5' (CDA67248)
Gottschalk: Piano Music, Vol. 5
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'Gottschalk: The Complete Solo Piano Music' (CDS44451/8)
Gottschalk: The Complete Solo Piano Music
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Track 3 on CDA67248 [8'27]
Track 3 on CDS44451/8 CD5 [8'27] 8CDs Boxed set (at a special price)

Bataille 'Étude de concert', RO25 Op 64
For two years, from May 1866, Gottschalk spent his time shuttling between Argentina and Uruguay. It was a dangerous time to be in South America when every republic except Chile was in a permanent state of political unrest. Gottschalk spent the whole of January 1868 in the then small rural town of Las Conchas on the El Tigre River, northwest of Buenos Aires. Cholera and leprosy were rife and the pianist records the death of a priest in a neighbouring village whose body was left to rot until a gaucho lassoed the body and dragged it out of the town where vultures consumed the remains. Gottschalk suffered from boils under the arms and on the thighs, and developed a tumour under one armpit.

It was during this sojourn that he managed somehow to get round to writing down several earlier compositions, of which Bataille is one. Its tranquil opening theme (E flat major) is reminiscent of a Stephen Foster ballad (on its final return, Gottschalk offers a decorative ossia) leading to an ardito (‘bold’) galop. Gottschalk on auto-pilot it may be, but the final pages are demanding enough with the composer’s trademark huge rhythmic leaps in the left hand and the right hand way above the stave. (Not to be confused with the earlier La Bataille de Carabovo [1859, but now lost] intended as a victory march for Gottschalk’s friend the Venezuelan General Páez, ‘thrice liberator of the Spanish Americas’.)

from notes by Jeremy Nicholas © 2001

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