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Ludwig Van
Toronto Montreal

LEBRECHT LISTENS | Nikos Skalkottas: A Jazz Meets Classical Curiosity

By Norman Lebrecht on July 5, 2019

From Berlin to Athens: Piano Music by Nikos Skalkottas (Bis)

★★★★☆

The Greek composer Skalkottas died of a ruptured hernia in 1949, shortly after the birth of his second son. He was 45 and completely unknown, his health broken by internment in a camp during the German occupation.

Possessed of a questing mind, Skalkottas enrolled in Arnold Schoenberg’s Berlin class from 1927 to 1932, learning how to write ultra-modern serialism and balancing it with his own instinct for Mediterranean melody. This collection of piano pieces by the Greek scholar Lorenda Ramou contains three world premieres, all of considerable curiosity.

In the Greek Suite of 1924, Ramou draws bouzouki-like sounds from her piano, plangent little dances that would have not sounded out of place on the Zorba film set. A second suite from the same year has Jazz Age rhythms reminiscent of the Parisian Les Six. When Skalkottas turns serial he does so with a charming lightness, fingers flying across the black keys, wispy wavelets kissing the island shore. I particularly like the suite of 1941 when, with the world crashing around him, Skalkottas conjures up polkas and tangos in strict 12-note order, frisky with restless hope and a sense of fun. If you’re into 20th century piano music, this should be high on your wishlist.

To read more from Norman Lebrecht, follow him on Slippedisc.com.

LUDWIG VAN TORONTO

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Norman Lebrecht

Norman Lebrecht is one of the most widely-read commentators on music, culture and cultural politics. He is a regular presenter on BBC Radio 3 and a contributor to the Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, Standpoint, Sinfini and other publications. His blog, Slipped Disc, is among the most widely read cultural sites online, breaking exclusive stories and campaigning against human abuse and acts of injustice in the cultural industries.

Norman Lebrecht

Norman Lebrecht is one of the most widely-read commentators on music, culture and cultural politics. He is a regular presenter on BBC Radio 3 and a contributor to the Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, Standpoint, Sinfini and other publications. His blog, Slipped Disc, is among the most widely read cultural sites online, breaking exclusive stories and campaigning against human abuse and acts of injustice in the cultural industries.
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Ludwig Van Toronto

THE SCOOP | COC Announces Digital Stage Initiative With The National Ballet And Sheridan College

By Anya Wassenberg on August 28, 2019

“The COC recognizes that we, as a performing arts organization, are not an island," says Canadian Opera Company General Director, Alexander Neef, on the launch of the Digital Stage.
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INTERVIEW | After A Debilitating Injury, Classical Guitarist Miloš Returns All The Better For It

By Anya Wassenberg on September 13, 2019

With traditional classical guitar works and covers of Paul Simon, Leonard Cohen, Portishead, Miloš returns with a new perspective on music. His new album "Sound of Silence", is out now.
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LEBRECHT LISTENS | John Wilson And Sinfonia Of London Take Korngold Seriously

By Norman Lebrecht on August 23, 2019

An all-Korngold program of works composed at a time of changing tastes is brought to bear in a new album from John Wilson And Sinfonia of London.
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