Nikos Skalkottas (1904-49) Music For Violin And Piano
Nikos Skalkottas produced his abundant compositional legacy in virtual obscurity. Even some of his close colleagues and family members had no idea he was a composer. A half century after Skalkottas' early death, the Greek composer is finally getting his due. Gunther Schuller's Margun Music has published a significant handful of scores, while BIS continues what hopes to be an ongoing survey of his music. In certain respects, it's a miracle that the music has survived at all. Much of Skalkottas' prolific output only exists in manuscript; tracking it all down amounts to a detective job from hell. For instance, only the second movement survives from Skallkotas' first of four Violin Sonatinas recorded here. It's a three-minute curio that aptly can be described as "Schoenberg meets Samba".
Much of Skalkottas' music, in fact, evokes the lilting, cosmopolitan sound world of the composers who made up "Les Six", yet the grammar is thoroughly rooted in Schoenberg's gritty, uncompromising 12-tone lexicon. Hints of catchy melodies flicker in and out of thorny chordal bushes and spiky rhythmic cells. Skalkottas is fond of abrupt endings. Each of Sonata for Solo Violin's four movements, for example, concludes in midthought, as if the composer simply decided to stop in his tracks and give his feverish pen a rest.
While it makes programming and marketing sense to build a CD release around all the Skalkottas violin music, it's best to absorb these dense, quirky works in small doses. Start with the oddly engaging Little Chorale and Fugue, then proceed to the larger-scaled Fourth Sonatina. Then choose an encore from any of the five concluding miniatures at the end of the disc. Georgios Demertzis and Maria Asteriadou dive head first into this strange, insidiously original music, playing with ferocity and musicianly abandon. Powerful stuff. ~Jed Distler, ClassicsToday.com
Sonata for Solo Violin (1925) 1. I. Allegro furioso, quasi Presto 2'33 2. II. Adagietto 2'42 3. III. Allegro ritmato 1'41 4. IV. Adagio - Allegro molto Moderato 5'40
Sonatina No.1 for Violin and Piano (1929) 5. II. Andantino 2'50
Sonatina No.2 for Violin and Piano (1929) 6. I. Allegro 2'13 7. II. Andante 2'20 8. III. Allegro vivace 2'01
Sonatina No.3 for Violin and Piano (1935) 9. I. Allegro giusto 2'55 10. II. Andante 5'06 11. III. Maestoso - Vivace 3'17
Sonatina No.4 for Violin and Piano (1935) 12. I. Moderato 3'26 13. II. Adagio 6'49 14. III. Allegro moderato 2'51
Little Chorale and Fugue (c.1936/37?) 15. Adagio 1'16 16. Moderato 1'40
17. March of the Little Soldiers (c. 1936/37?) 0'50
18. Nocturne (c. 1936/37?) 4'53
19. Rondo (c. 1936/37?) 1'18
20. Gavotte (1939) 1'36
21. Scherzo (c. 1940?) 2'22
22. Menuetto Cantato (c. 1940?) 2'14
Georgios Demertzis, violin Maria Asteriadou, piano
The attitude of the gallant Six Hundred which so aroused Lord Tennyson's admiration arose from the fact that the least disposition to ask the reason why was discouraged by tricing the would-be inquirer to the triangle and flogging him into insensibility.
Advance to Barbarism
(Mitre Press, 1968).
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