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Huntley Dent
Fanfare, November 2015

…The music’s humor and ebullience are given full play by a performer who seems rather perfect for the assignment. As recorded in New York City at the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Steinway Model CD that Mayer performs on is impressively lifelike. © 2015 Fanfare Read complete review

Colin Clarke
Fanfare, November 2015

This is a great disc. Steven Mayer is a fabulous pianist…[he] stresses the influence of Chopin on Gottschalk over that of Liszt.

…Mayer’s transcription is wonderful, perhaps heightened by the fact that the arranger as pianist gives it his full heart and soul. There is a lovely sweep to the performance, of unstoppable Romantic rhetoric writ large. © 2015 Fanfare Read complete review

Jerry Dubins
Fanfare, November 2015

…Mayer’s transcription [is] a breathtakingly beautiful work, and in his hands a sweeping panorama of pianistic pulchritude reminiscent of the golden age of Romantic piano works by Alkan, Liszt, and Thalberg…

…[His] expert playing lends the music such charm and genuine appeal that my appetite is now whetted to hear more of it, much more, and preferably by Mayer, whose belief in Gottschalk feels absolutely sincere and is both convincing and persuasive. Very strongly recommended. © 2015 Fanfare Read complete review

Peter J. Rabinowitz
Fanfare, November 2015

…the performances in this disc are, consequently, intimate rather than bombastic. Throughout the recital, colors tend to be muted, articulation softened, dynamics on the quiet side, and rhythms relaxed…The results are…mesmerizing.

…this is a major contribution to the Gottschalk discography. Ardently recommended. © 2015 Fanfare Read complete review

Patrick Rucker
The Washington Post, October 2015

…Mayer approaches this music squarely on its own terms, without apology. His unerring tempos and sensitivity to harmonic subtleties elevate music that might seem maudlin to a touchingly sincere evocation of a bygone age. © 2015 The Washington Post Read complete review

Anthony Tommasini
The New York Times, September 2015

Mr. Mayer brings dazzling virtuosity and playfulness to jaunty pieces like “Le Banjo: Fantaisie grotesque” and “Pasquinade: Caprice.” He also gives elegant accounts of several dreamy, refined and harmonically rich less-heard works, like “The Last Hope,” a religious mediation, and the gorgeous “Reflets du passé,” a reverie. © 2015 The New York Times Read complete review

Tom Huizenga
National Public Radio, August 2015

Pianist Steven Mayer feeds off the sheer joy in [Le Banjo]… © 2015 National Public Radio Read complete review

James Manheim, August 2015

…Mayer’s real service here is to give…Gottschalk’s oeuvre some exposure. With flawlessly appropriate sound…this is an essential Gottschalk release. © 2015 Read complete review

Christie Grimstad, August 2015

Mr. Mayer has an incredible touch of delicacy using right-hand articulation inside the solemnly celestial reaches of The Last Hope. The pensive accents are well translated. © 2015 Read complete review, July 2015

None of this music is particularly substantial or substantive, but all of it is charming, melodic and pleasant to hear, and Mayer plays all of it attentively and with just the right mixture of emotional involvement and flamboyance. The fare is light, but Mayer makes it tasty. © 2015 Read complete review

David Denton
David's Review Corner, July 2015

Once hailed as the New World’s first authentic musical spokesman, Louis Moreau Gottschalk was born in New Orleans in 1829, but was to grow up in western Europe. There he was extolled as a prodigy pianist and a composer of catchy tunes derived from his Creole parentage, his tours of France, Switzerland and Spain becoming a prelude to his triumphal return to the USA with a 1853 New York debut. With a catalogue of solo piano pieces exceeding a hundred and fifty, he was quite prolific as a composer in many genre. He was to express his admiration of Chopin, but his output owed a debt of gratitude to Liszt, the present disc displaying that relationship in the flamboyant Grande Fantaisie Triomphale sur l’hymne national brésilien. If his name will live on, it will probably be in the world of popular light classics we find in Le Banjo and Pasquinade, though I guess he would prefer history to remember him by the tenderness of the Berceuse; the limpid beauty of Reflets du passé, or the Fantôme de bonheur where the music of John Field appears to be its parentage. The disc concludes with La Nuit des tropiques—the music used by Gottschalk as the opening movement of his First Symphony—here performed in a piano transcription by the disc’s soloist, the more familiar Artur Napoleau reworking omitting an entire section of the orchestral score that is here restored for this premiere recording. In trying to recapture as much of the orchestral score as possible, Steven Mayer has indulged himself in that deception that three hands are involved, though it often sounds more like four. Certainly fiendish in its demands, Mayer has shown throughout an affinity and an obvious affection for a rather mixed-up composer. © 2015 David’s Review Corner

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