Review By Anthony Clarke,Limelight Magazine,November 2007
When he died suddenly of peritonitis, aged just 39, the reams of [Gottschalk’s] compositions were dispersed, and mostly destroyed. For this recording, Richard Rosenberg and colleague Michael Gurt have scoured the manuscripts which remain, deciphered the faded and almost illegible handwriting, and presented us with the only complete orchestral compositions left to us. There is some mundane journeyman material here, as there would be from most composers if we were given such a magpie collection of surviving pieces. But there are enough jaunty pieces, with a Creole lilt that hint towards the future development of jazz, to make us understand why Gottschalk in his day was such a phenomenon, and how much we have missed by fate not letting him return to America, as he
This music shows what a strong melodic gift Gottschalk had, reminiscent in fact of composers as diverse as Donizetti and Tchaikovsky. The vocal fragments preserved here, especially the Opera in One Act, Escanas Campestres Cubanas, show what a gift to opera Gottschalk might have been. This was the natural endeavour to which he would have turned if he’d been given time. The flavor of these surviving works suggest he would have composed on the lighter lyrical side—a Creole Offenbach, perhaps.
Until now, Gottschalk’s surviving piano works have had most circulation. We can now add to them these remaining orchestral pieces. Naxos has given us a fascinating resurrection of an almost-lost byway of 19th century music.