NIKOS SKALKOTTAS (1904-1949): Greek Suite, AK 79a, Suite, AK 79b, Sonatina, AK 75b, Suites No.2, AK 72, No. 3, AK 73 and No. 4, AK 74, Dance Suite “The Gnomes” .
Catalogue Number: 07V044
Format: SACD hybrid
Description: This recording presents pieces from three stages of Skalkottas' output, with world premieres of his earliest extant works and a rediscovered late one. The Greek Suite and the incomplete (Suite) (thus tentatively named because the beginning is missing, including the title) were written in 1924, and are slight, offering little insight into the composer’s future development, though the (Suite) is not without its appeal, with its references to the fad for American dance music prevalent in Berlin at the time. The Sonatina, three years later, also has some of this, but by now Skalkottas had abandoned conventional tonality, and the piece is far more recognisably his. The same is true of the Variations, freely atonal but referencing Beethoven, and very accessible. The 2nd, 3rd and 4th Suites were written in Athens in 1940-41, and are fully mature works of unmistakable quality. Combining Baroque forms with Classical references and allusions to Greek themes and rhythms with an atonal vocabulary, they exemplify Skalkottas' appeal, and his highly unusual gift for making unrepentantly atonal music that moreover prides itself on its 'New Objectivity' so thoroughly appealing and easy to appreciate - and, for that matter, warmly human; the funeral march in No.2, for instance, is Beethovenian in its depth of emotion. The substantial dance suite The Gnomes was rediscovered in 2015. Apparently Skalkottas wrote it around 1939 for a dance academy production, but it was forgotten after he replaced it with a suite of arrangements. The piece is tonal with ample bitonal and modal inflections; rhythmically lively, with its folk rhythms a most appealing feature, this is a thoroughly enjoyable score. Lorenda Ramou (piano).