Skalkottas: 16 Melodies, 15 Little Variations, Sonatina, Echo, Berceuse

COMPOSERS: Skalkottas
LABELS: BIS
ALBUM TITLE: Skalkottas – Melodies
WORKS: 16 Melodies, 15 Little Variations, Sonatina, Echo, Berceuse
PERFORMER: Angelica CathariouNikolaos Samaltanos
CATALOGUE NO: CD-1464
Skalkottas’s Melodies of 1941,

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recorded here complete for the first

time, is his major work for voice

and piano: a cycle of 16 Greek

poems by Hrissos Evelpidis, mainly

evocations of landscape, nature and

the seasons. Like the 32 Piano Pieces

of the previous year, this turns out

to be an utterance of epic scope and

vivid contrasts. There is something

almost Ivesian about Skalkottas’s

prodigious invention, some of the

songs almost tonal and folk-like,

others highly expressionistic, yet

others bitterly elegiac. The voice

and the piano often go their separate

ways, the keyboard parts full of notes,

often with a concerto-like virtuosity

and complication, the voice (very

precisely specified as a mezzosoprano)

spanning a huge range but

inhabiting, on the whole, a more

tonal world than the piano.

Angelica Cathariou sings them

superbly, with a rich, creamy voice

that is nevertheless capable of all

the agility that Skalkottas demands,

with no undue sense of strain. But

the top praise must go the Nikolaos

Samaltanos, already a veteran of

BIS’s Skalkottas series, for the sheer

aplomb and magnificent technique

with which he delivers the hugely

challenging piano parts. Four short,

attractive piano compositions, two

of them charming exercises in ‘style

composition’, are an interesting

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makeweight. Calum MacDonald