Even for those who like classical music, I’m pretty sure if I were to poll a lot of people, Louis Moreau Gottschalk is possibly not going to be a completely familiar name. However, after having heard this CD (actually, after having heard it lots of times), I really think that’s a bit of a shame.
Gottschalk was actually a famous American pianist, believe it or not, of the 1800s. He started out as a child prodigy, and by his later years (and when we say later, bear in mind that he died at age 40), he was touring Europe and mixing with people like Liszt and Chopin.
But what makes his music stand out so much is that he really did capture all the syncopated music of South Louisiana and the Caribbean. If you didn’t think rumbas were around in the 1840s – think again!
Don’t expect anything deep and serious from this music, but it is a lot of fun. For those of you who are purists, be warned, this is not Gottschalk’s original versions (most of which would have been for solo piano), rather, this is versions of his music which have been arranged for various combinations of instruments (most of them piano and orchestra).
Starting with the utterly sparkling Celebre Tarantelle arranged for piano and orchestra, and then moving on through a variety of numbers until it ends with the title piece, A Night in the Tropics, a nifty little two-movement mini-symphony. For those of you looking for something a little bit different, this is a CD worth checking out. And being a Naxos CD, it only costs 10 bucks, so who can complain about that?