CULTURE

Skalkottas’s magnum opus to go global

Greek composer Nikos Skalkottas’s «Thirty-Six Greek Dances,» one of the composer’s most important and best-loved works, has found the means to becoming more well-known abroad, as Scandinavian record company BIS has released a new edition that also includes «Odysseus’s Return,» a masterpiece and maybe the highlight of Skalkottas’s career. BIS has a wide international distribution network and the eight Skalkottas albums that preceded the latest one have mostly met with an enthusiastic response from critics. What is noteworthy about «Thirty-Six Greek Dances» is the participation of the BBC Symphonic Orchestra under Greek director Nikos Christodoulou, who is extremely devoted to Skalkottas’s music. It is extremely rare for any Greek composition to be interpreted by an orchestra of that scale. Skalkottas’s «Thirty-Six Greek Dances,» contrary to most of his other works, can be more easily understood by a wider audience, though this does not mean that they can be classified as simple. If one were to draw a comparison between the «Thirty-Six Greek Dances» and their well-known predecessors, the dances of Brahms and Dvorak, one could not help but notice that Skalkottas’s works cannot only withstand the comparison but that, on the whole, they have a more complex structure and are more demanding in their interpretation. It should finally be noted that, for the first time, Christodoulou records a series of alternative compositions for some of the «Dances» as well as including detailed information about the compositions, the circumstances under which they were created, and their relation to Greek folk music. The recording took place at the BBC’s main studio in London, during November 2001 and April 2002.