Author Topic: Nikos Skalkottas  (Read 9959 times)

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M forever

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Re: Nikos Skalkottas
« Reply #20 on: July 15, 2007, 04:17:40 PM »
paul - can you post the recording of the Skalkottas concerto? I have seen the music, but I have never heard it played, live or on disc.
BTW, I saw your thread with the interesting bass recordings, but didn't really get to listening to much of that and participating - but I have it earmarked and will take a closer look some time later.

paul

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Re: Nikos Skalkottas
« Reply #21 on: July 15, 2007, 05:32:50 PM »
paul - can you post the recording of the Skalkottas concerto? I have seen the music, but I have never heard it played, live or on disc.
BTW, I saw your thread with the interesting bass recordings, but didn't really get to listening to much of that and participating - but I have it earmarked and will take a closer look some time later.


Sure, here you go: http://www.sendspace.com/file/xaxyp7 In case the files in my thread expire, I can upload them again.

paul

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Re: Nikos Skalkottas
« Reply #22 on: July 16, 2007, 06:42:06 PM »
This is a truly great concerto that repays careful listening! the problem of balance(of sound) is not by skalkottas writing but  of a conductor's job ! its very dificcult concerto and dont forget that is a world premiere recording! opinions :) sorry for my english!

Maybe, but the double bass does not project as well as other string instruments due to its register and timbre and sometimes composers forget or ignore this. I recently attended a performance of Koussevitzky's concerto and what I noticed was that only the high frequencies of the bass's sound could be heard in certain passages with orchestra. It's as if the floor would occasionally fall out from under the soloist's feet and the bass would be missing part of its sound. I think that this is due to clumsy orchestration (It's said that Gliere orchestrated Koussevitzky's DB concerto from the bass and piano part, or at least helped him with it which I think I believe given the similarities that are found in Gliere's horn concerto, the number of which I'm forgetting now). There were also passages where I couldn't hear the bass that well and I was in the fourth or fifth row. There are things that can be done to help the bassist balance out against the orchestra such as reducing the size and having sections mark tutti and solo passages, but often it's the problem with the composition. I think the most successful double bass concertos in terms of performance have sparse writing for the orchestra such as the pieces by Larsson, Bottesini, Henze, Rautavaara (barely anything in the 2nd movement), and the classical Viennese compositions by Vanhal, Hoffmeister, et cetera.

M forever

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Re: Nikos Skalkottas
« Reply #23 on: July 16, 2007, 07:41:39 PM »
Exactly. That's just basic acoustics. We don't hear the lower frequencies as well as the middle ones anyway, the bass has rather diffuse, less projecting overtones than a cello or violin (to have similar acoustical properties as these instruments, the bass would have to be about 3 times as big, and even then all the limitations of the lower frequencies apply). These diffuse overtones give it its attractive, smoky nasal sound, but that simply doesn't carry that well and can very easily be covered up by higher frequencies.

The bass is a great instrument with a rich and characterful sound, but it's simply not the kind of instrument one can stand in front of a big orchestra and produce oneself as soloist. That's not what it is made for, it simply doesn't work and can get comical.

It's still a great instrument for solo and chamber music and maybe a concerto works in the context of a chamber orchestra sized ensemble, but not with a large orchestra. Gary Karr thinks he can solve that problem by sawing right next to the bridge all the time, he has a really loud and fairly punchy tone and is technically a very good player, but that gets old pretty fast and is musically rather silly.

The Koussevitzky concerto is a really nice piece, but it is best played in a chamber setting with piano. It's grandiose style has a nice old fashioned, nostalgic touch in that setting as a solist in front of a big orchestra, Rachmaninoff-style, it is pretty ridiculous.

Leopold Mozart mentions in his treatise on violin playing that the bass is a really great solo instrument because of its pleasant, warm sound, and it is no surprise that there are so many nice concertos from that era. It works very well with a small ensemble and in a room of the size typically used at the time, but the 19th century of large concert halls, big orchestras and solists producing themselves dramatically in front of a big orchestra is not the kind of musical style the bass is suited for as a solo instrument.

Thanks for the Skalkottas concerto. I looked at the music and practiced it a little at one time, long ago, but I never played or heard it. I had a personal connection to Greece at that time, so I thought it was a good idea to play it, also because it is a good piece and too little known even among bass players, but I never found the time for that.
It is definitely totally overorchestrated. It is obvious that the soloist needs a lot of help from the balance engineer in this recording, and even then he sometimes is hard to hear. I think I met that gentleman once when I was in Athens, he is the principal of the National Opera there. Very good player, pretty agile, but to add to the problems, it doesn't seem like he has that much sound. The bass sounds a little cardboardy in this recording. He doesn't have all that much bite and sustain either. I guess he plays French bow, that's another problem. That simply doesn't work so well.
Especially with material like this. All the fast passages and double stops, that is very hard to make speak quickly and crisply, especially with the French bow, and even if it does, that kind of material is very easily drowned out by the accompaniment. Longer notes have a better chance to make it through, but this stuff doesn't. This should have been scored for a chamber ensemble, not an orchestra.

And that's not the conductor's fault at all. Nor the bass player's.

One weird thing: it sounds like the bass is shifting perspective all the time, especially in the first movement. I don't remember too much details about the piece, that was 12 years ago that I looked at it, and I never saw the full score. Is that a dialog with the principal bass in the orchestra? Or did they simply edit takes together in which the bass player was in two different places? It sounds more like the latter, especially with headphones.

Still, nice piece, but a little on the pointless side.
« Last Edit: July 16, 2007, 07:45:51 PM by M forever »

Hector

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Re: Nikos Skalkottas
« Reply #24 on: July 17, 2007, 06:05:28 AM »


Here are two randomly chosen dances from the first book, if anyone wants to sample

http://rapidshare.com/files/41751624/Tsamikos.zip.html

 

The beloved Beeb did a comprehensive review of these discs when they were first issued (probably because it is their orchestra) and found that the performances lacked the rawness of a previous selection recorded by a body called the Urals SO, I think.

By that time I had already bought the discs.

He seems to have taken a lot of trouble over them and the discs contain a number of supplements.

The orchestration is quite distinctive but I do not recommend listening to the complete set in one sitting.

The 'Return of Ulysses' is about half-hour in length and is seriously serial.

He might be the greatest of Greek composers but, let's face it, there is not much competition.

Recommended.

Offline Dax

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Re: Nikos Skalkottas
« Reply #25 on: November 15, 2008, 03:37:39 AM »
This thread from r3ok may be of interest.
http://r3ok.myforum365.com/index.php?topic=1935.0

Offline Dax

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Re: Nikos Skalkottas
« Reply #26 on: December 08, 2010, 09:10:58 AM »
And here are a few old recordings of Skalkottas from another forum.
Get to them quickly!

http://www.r3ok.com/index.php/topic,917.msg93112.html#msg93112

2 years since the previous post. Blimey.

Offline Dax

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Re: Nikos Skalkottas
« Reply #27 on: October 29, 2011, 09:56:45 AM »
This thread from r3ok may be of interest.
http://r3ok.myforum365.com/index.php?topic=1935.0

This forum folded some time ago, but the Skalkottas thread can be accessed at

http://ded.increpare.com/r3ok_rescued/20thCentury/T1935_0.htm

If anybody is interested in any of the old radio recordings referred to, I could post them.

For some time I've been after Danae Kara's account of the 3rd piano concerto but without success. Any hot tips from anybody. I know that Geoffrey Douglas Madge has recorded it, but if the playing is of the "read-through" standard demonstrated in his account of the 2nd concerto, then it won't really be worth searching out.

Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Nikos Skalkottas
« Reply #28 on: March 17, 2014, 03:34:21 PM »
Cross-posted from the 'Purchases' thread -

Just bought these:









Really looking forward to exploring this composer's music. Again, like Roslavets, he was a name I've known for many years but just haven't gotten around to him yet.
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Offline Cato

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Re: Nikos Skalkottas
« Reply #29 on: March 18, 2014, 04:20:10 PM »

Really looking forward to exploring this composer's music. Again, like Roslavets, he was a name I've known for many years but just haven't gotten around to him yet.

Quite an investment!

The music of Skalkottas I have often compared to the middle and (some) later works of Ernst Krenek, in that they took Schoenberg's ideas on construction and used them in their own idiosyncratic ways.  ( Krenek jumped ship every decade or so, abandoning one style for another!)

So, yes, have fun with Skalkottas whose music should be better known!
« Last Edit: March 18, 2014, 04:21:43 PM by Cato »
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Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Nikos Skalkottas
« Reply #30 on: March 18, 2014, 04:54:31 PM »
Quite an investment!

The music of Skalkottas I have often compared to the middle and (some) later works of Ernst Krenek, in that they took Schoenberg's ideas on construction and used them in their own idiosyncratic ways.  ( Krenek jumped ship every decade or so, abandoning one style for another!)

So, yes, have fun with Skalkottas whose music should be better known!

Cool, Cato! 8) Thanks for you feedback. I've been curious about Skalkottas for many years now. The BIS series seemed like the only way to go really.
"Music must be beautiful, or it wouldn’t be worth the effort” - Bohuslav Martinů

Offline San Antonio

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Re: Nikos Skalkottas
« Reply #31 on: March 18, 2014, 05:22:04 PM »
The recording with the piano trios and cello works is very good, imo.



And the chamber music, too

« Last Edit: March 18, 2014, 05:25:41 PM by sanantonio »

Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Nikos Skalkottas
« Reply #32 on: March 18, 2014, 05:33:04 PM »
The recording with the piano trios and cello works is very good, imo.



And the chamber music, too



Thanks, SA. Usually, what I do is go for the orchestral music first and then check out their chamber music next, although, for Roslavets I made an exception as several chamber works caught my ear first.
« Last Edit: March 18, 2014, 06:26:57 PM by Mirror Image »
"Music must be beautiful, or it wouldn’t be worth the effort” - Bohuslav Martinů

Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Nikos Skalkottas
« Reply #33 on: March 18, 2014, 06:35:46 PM »
I get the feeling that Skalkottas is closer to Schoenberg and Berg than Webern, would this be accurate?
"Music must be beautiful, or it wouldn’t be worth the effort” - Bohuslav Martinů

Offline Wanderer

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Re: Nikos Skalkottas
« Reply #34 on: March 18, 2014, 11:26:59 PM »
Cross-posted from the 'Purchases' thread -

Really looking forward to exploring this composer's music.

Better late than never!  8)

Regarding the Concerto for 2 violins on one of the CD's you ordered (a brilliant work, one of his best concerti and a great favourite of mine), bear in mind that Skalkottas died before orchestrating it. The orchestration on that recording is the work of one of the performers (Demertzis, a well-known Skalkottas scholar). If you want to listen to this brilliant work as the composer left it in its original guise for 2 violins and 2 pianos (in my view, much more potent and authentic), I very highly recommend this:


Great music and sizzling performances.


Offline Wanderer

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Re: Nikos Skalkottas
« Reply #35 on: March 18, 2014, 11:29:10 PM »
The recording with the piano trios and cello works is very good, imo.
And the chamber music, too.

Ditto.

Offline amw

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Re: Nikos Skalkottas
« Reply #36 on: March 19, 2014, 12:15:00 AM »
Hmm. The first 'essential Skalkottas' recordings I'd recommend someone are the 32 Piano Pieces (Nikolaos Samaltanos's recording) and the String Quartets 3 & 4 (New Hellenic Quartet). After that probably the Violin Concerto/Largo Sinfonico and the cello works/piano trios.

I've not found GDM's Piano Concerto 3 very satisfactory and would also be interested in hearing the Kara recording, so Dax, if you do happen to find it at some point do sendspace it. (I've located copies in the Theodore R. McKeldin Library at U of Maryland, as well as the Juilliard School, but both are over 8000 miles from my current location so I'm not sure how practical requesting an inter-library loan would be :P)

Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Nikos Skalkottas
« Reply #37 on: March 19, 2014, 07:19:53 AM »
Better late than never!  8)

Regarding the Concerto for 2 violins on one of the CD's you ordered (a brilliant work, one of his best concerti and a great favourite of mine), bear in mind that Skalkottas died before orchestrating it. The orchestration on that recording is the work of one of the performers (Demertzis, a well-known Skalkottas scholar). If you want to listen to this brilliant work as the composer left it in its original guise for 2 violins and 2 pianos (in my view, much more potent and authentic), I very highly recommend this:


Great music and sizzling performances.

Excellent! Thanks for the suggestion, Wanderer. :)
"Music must be beautiful, or it wouldn’t be worth the effort” - Bohuslav Martinů

Offline k a rl h e nn i ng

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Re: Nikos Skalkottas
« Reply #38 on: March 19, 2014, 07:57:24 AM »
Yes, indeed, Tasos!
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Offline Cato

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Re: Nikos Skalkottas
« Reply #39 on: March 19, 2014, 08:27:38 AM »
I get the feeling that Skalkottas is closer to Schoenberg and Berg than Webern, would this be accurate?

Oh yes: one of his conflicts - or simply differences - with the original ideas of Schoenberg is his use of multiple sets of rows, rather than reducing a composition to variations on only one row.

This idea allows Skalkottas to develop a unique style.
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