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‘An American composer, bon Dieu!’
With this strapline Hyperion issued what was expected to be a one-off disc of Gottschalk. Over the course of the succeeding decade popular success has developed the project into the first complete recording of the composer’s output for solo piano—now well on its way to completion with the release of this seventh volume.
Ever the opportunist, Gottschalk wrote several of the more ‘crowd-pleasing’ miniatures on this disc under the pseudonym of ‘Seven Octaves’, even dedicating one of them to ‘To my dear friend L.M.Gottschalk’! But the works professional pride may have persuaded him to disown at the time have inevitably become favourites with posterity. The closing piece of this recital, God save the Queen, further betrays the hand of the master-entertainer: a tune popular across America (to a variety of texts including ‘God save America’, ‘God save George Washington’ and, latterly, ‘My country, ’tis of thee’) and the national anthem of at least eight European states at the time, Gottschalk found in his idiosyncratic arrangement the most appealing of travelling companions.