C. Michael Bailey
All About Jazz
, August 2008
There appears considerable overlap between Orchestral Works (Complete) and Night in the Tropics / Celebre Tarantelle / Berceuse. Again Richard Rosenberg and the Hot Springs Festival Symphony Orchestra are the vehicle for the Gottschalk recital. But Rosenberg takes the music and re-imagines it, fleshing it out.
Rosenberg points out in his notes that “A Night in the Tropics” had only been performed since the composer’s death in condensed and “corrected” versions. Rosenberg reconstructed the pieces based on the composer’s autograph manuscript, a smaller orchestra than what Gottschalk had originally planned (which numbered several hundred musicians).
In the final movement of “A Night in the Tropics,” Gottschalk marked only the opening measure of the Afro-Cuban percussion, using the notation from “Bamboula.” Gottschalk readily expected the ensemble to improvise the remainder of that samba movement in a manner that places it as a sort of bridge between nineteenth-century concert music and a musical language that would soon evolve into that of jazz.
This promotes Gottschalk’s importance to jazz that would begin quickly evolving mere years after the composer’s death. Outside of the large orchestral pieces, Rosenberg treats the listener to several Gottschalk piano pieces adapted for orchestral interpretation. Gottschalk provided a language to American music that was uniquely American while still being a eutectoid of multiple cultural confluences. Gottschalk’s music is immediately enjoyable and the indebtedness of composers after him readily apparent.