November 11, 1952

SKALKOTTAS: (From a review by Minos Dounias) «It is due to the British maestro Walter Gerr – who launched the Athens State Orchestra’s winter concert season last Sunday (November 2) – that we were able to hear such an excellent interpretation of one of the most amazing works of Nikos Skalkottas. It was the Symphonic Largo (from the Second Symphonic Suite) whose premiere this week met with divided opinion, as was only to be expected. Those who did not like the piece were irritated by the (…) complete lack of ‘melody’ in the sense of bel canto and the ‘unbearable’ length of this section, over 25 minutes. Truly, in an age that (…) trembles at the idea of boredom, it is a truly heroic act for a composer to launch such music on an unsuspecting audience. The (…) insistence on the complete rejection of every form of outward brilliance and generally a disregard for every commercial consideration are characteristics of such majestic creations as Bach’s ‘Art of the Fugue.’ Behind the almost superhuman ascetic self-restraint, along with the unlimited knowledge of the secrets of the orchestra and the clear creative intentions there lies a deeply human emotion, values that are of course inaccessible to anyone who is not capable, or not willing, to temporarily set aside accepted tastes. I would say that this desperate turn of events for Nikos Skalkottas is a voice from his own tyrannized life, but also a cry of desperation from the darkness surrounding our world today (…).»

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