Skalkottas: 16 Melodies; Piano Music; etc.

Skalkottas: 16 Melodies; Piano Music; etc.

by Nikolaos Samaltanos
     
 

Greek composer Nikolaos Skalkottas was one of Arnold Schoenberg's best European students, and his approach to serial technique represented an ideal in the realization of Schoenberg's twelve-tone system as Schoenberg himself viewed it. BIS' Skalkottas: 16 Melodies, Piano Pieces introduces a major vocal Skalkottas vocal cycle, 16 Melodies (1941) and fourSee more details below

Overview

Greek composer Nikolaos Skalkottas was one of Arnold Schoenberg's best European students, and his approach to serial technique represented an ideal in the realization of Schoenberg's twelve-tone system as Schoenberg himself viewed it. BIS' Skalkottas: 16 Melodies, Piano Pieces introduces a major vocal Skalkottas vocal cycle, 16 Melodies (1941) and four piano pieces, "15 Little Variations" and "Sonatina" from the Roaring '20s, rounding off the program with "Echo" and "Berceuse" from the warring '40s. Pianist Nikolaos Samaltanos is the dominant force in the program, and he plays on all of the tracks. It seems there is nothing Skalkottas can throw at Samaltanos that is too difficult for him to deliver, and that is saying a lot. "15 Little Variations" and "Sonatina" are comparable to 16 Melodies, although written 15 years before; the "variations" in "15 Little Variations" are "little," indeed, as the whole set takes only five minutes to play. The "Sonatina" represents a departure in that its concluding Rondo is couched in a jazzy, neo-Classic vein; perhaps the piece is a holdover from a slightly earlier time in Skalkottas' output. Soprano Angelica Cathariou does a splendid job of transmitting the ultra-difficult vocal part of the 16 Melodies; Marni Nixon, who sang so much music within this style effectively in the middle of the century, would be envious. This work, consisting of 16 settings of Greek poet Hrissos Esperas, is what you might get in combining Schoenberg's "The Book of the Hanging Gardens" with his "Suite for piano, Op. 25." It works, too -- the hard-bitten, highly rhythmic piano part proves a well-managed and appropriate foil for Skalkottas' soaring, uncompromisingly chromatic vocal lines. "Echo" and "Berceuse" represent a total divergence from the rest of this collection in that they are tonal, easily accessible miniatures, and lovely ones, too. However, their presence only accounts for four minutes of this hour-long CD. For devotees of Schoenbergian serialism, Skalkottas' 16 Melodies will be like fine dining; for the average listener, though, it will sound like a lot of clangor and dissonance, though some might recognize that it's at least sophisticated clangor. It is a shame that these songs were not recorded in the 1960s or 1970s when the audience for this type of music was both larger and more cultivated. Thanks be to BIS for putting its resources into bringing this music to us, even at a time when interest in it is at an ebb, rather than an uptrend.

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Product Details

Release Date:
07/26/2005
Label:
Bis
UPC:
7318590014646
catalogNumber:
1464
Rank:
344390

Related Subjects

Tracks

  1. Melodies (16), for voice & piano  - Nikos Skalkottas  - Robert von Bahr  - Nikolaos Samaltanos  - Angie Athanassiades  - Angelica Cathariou  - Hrissos Esperas
  2. Little Variations (15) for piano  - Nikos Skalkottas  - Robert von Bahr  - Nikolaos Samaltanos
  3. Sonatina for Piano  - Nikos Skalkottas  - Robert von Bahr  - Nikolaos Samaltanos
  4. Echo for Piano  - Nikos Skalkottas  - Robert von Bahr  - Nikolaos Samaltanos
  5. Berceuse for Piano  - Nikos Skalkottas  - Robert von Bahr  - Nikolaos Samaltanos

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