London Philharmonic Orchestra; Brabbins, Martyn; Koustas, Alexandros; Zacharias, George
The fact that Nikos Skalkottas was one of Schoenberg’s elite composition students obscures the fact that he began his career as a violinist of concert-artist level. The two concertos gathered here highlight this violinist/composer duality. The programme features the Concerto for Violin and Orchestra performed from the new critical edition, as well as the world première recording of the Concerto for violin, viola and wind orchestra. This performance is based on the first, critical edition of the work, prepared by violinist George Zacharias, who also appears here as the soloist in both works. Both concertos were composed in the late 1930s, a critical period in the life of the composer who, owing to the political situation, was unable to stay in Germany and had to return to his Athenian home. There, Skalkottas continued to work on his compositional language, resulting in an idiosyncratic system described as ‘fractal serialism’. Despite its complexity, the music also presents tonal references, a classical structure and even echoes of military bands and jazz, an allusion no doubt to the occupation forces and music banned by the authorities. George Zacharias, with violist Alexandros Koustas, the London Philharmonic Orchestra and conductor Martyn Brabbins bring us two mature works by the Greek modernist.