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Issue 18

(Spring 2011)






Costas Tsougras: Nikos Skalkottas’ Passacaglia for solo piano: Tradition and innovation in equilibrium


Nikos Skalkottas (1904-1949), the early 20th century Greek composer and one of Arnold Schoenberg’s most prominent students, composed his Passacaglia for solo piano in 1940 as part of his 32 piano pieces, during an extremely prolific compositional period. The work is written in a free atonal style and its transparent form incorporates a short 2-bar theme (in 9/8 time signature), consisting of a 9-note structural bass line with its multi-layered harmonic accompaniment, and its 20 short variations (all of them – except the last one – also 2 bars long). Each variation is structured on characteristic rhythmic patterns, which often address Greek traditional dance rhythms, and on the same untransposed bass line and harmonic network. The work exhibits a remarkable economy of musical material. Its austere form and its structural-harmonic consistency, combined with the strictly defined character of each variation, project a neoclassical quality, existing in balance with dense atonal harmonies, complex rhythmic surface elements and dramatic climaxes. The present paper attempts a formal, structural, motivic and textural analysis of the piece and connects the emerging stylistic features with the elements of the composer’s mature style.



Theodore Loustas: Distinguished Greek pianists of the past: analytical discography and concise biographical information


The preface of this paper includes short biographies of famous Greek pianists of the 19th and 20th century who did not make recordings. The first chapter is dedicated to thirteen pianists who had a career primarily ïr exclusively as soloists and the second chapter is dedicated to six pianists who worked mainly or exclusively as accompanists: all known commercial and many private recordings are listed, with concise biographical information. The earliest known recordings of important Greek pianists (Leipzig, 1905) were made by Télémaque Lambrino (1878-1930). Timotheos Xanthopoulos (c.1864-1942), Theseus Pindios (1886-1934) and Ivi Pana (1895-1967) made recordings before 1923. Anna Antoniades-Xydis (c.1919-1980) made recordings in Berlin (1938-1939). She appeared with major orchestras and conductors in Germany, USA, etc. Vasso Devetzi (1927-1987) made recordings with legendary performers from the former Soviet Union, such as David Oistrakh, Mstislav Rostropovich and Rudolf Barshai. The world famous conductor Dimitri Mitropoulos (1896-1960) was also a virtuoso pianist. He often played the solo part of difficult works for piano and orchestra, and conducted simultaneously from the keyboard. Among his very few recordings as pianist-conductor three performances of Sergei Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto no 3 exist. Gina Bachauer (1910-1976) and Rena Kyriakou (1917-1994) have the largest discographies. Rena Kyriakou has recorded the complete piano works of Felix Mendelssohn, Emmanuel Chabrier and Isaac Albéniz. She also made many first world recordings (various compositions by Antonio Soler, Felix Mendelssohn, Jan Ladislav Dussek, John Field and Isaac Albéniz). Tasso Yannopoulo (1898-1970) had the most impressive international career among the accompanists. He made many sound and video recordings with world-renowned performers, such as the violinists Jacques Thibaud, Henryk Szeryng and Ivry Gitlis. Unfortunately, many recordings are rare and unknown for various reasons. The author believes that the artistry of many underestimated and ignored Greek pianists of the past deserves to be properly appreciated by a wider audience.



Ioannis Fulias: Sonata forms and their theoretical evolution: The fifth sonata type (“sonata-concerto form”) in 18th- and 19th-century theory


The eleventh part of this extensive survey of the theoretical evolution of sonata forms from 18th to 20th centuries begins to treat the fifth sonata type, i.e. the enriched version of any pure sonata form with orchestral ritornellos in the classic concertos. Taking a brief account on the compositional evolution from the late baroque “ritornello form” to early classical “concerto form” as a starting point, the present paper observes this substantial structural transformation being also reflected in music-theoretical writings from mid-18th-century (mainly by Johann Joachim Quantz and Joseph Riepel), in which only vague references to sonata techniques can still be detected in the “concerto form”, to late-18th-century (by Georg Joseph Vogler, Heinrich Christoph Koch and Francesco Galeazzi), where the binary or ternary sonata type is now clearly considered as the basis of the “concerto form”, whilst the role of the ritornellos is drastically pushed out of the limelight. Moreover, just before the end of the 18th-century, August Kollmann already makes the next crucial step towards the full integration and assimilation of all orchestral sections of a concerto into a simple ternary sonata form, which is then further developed during the entire 19th-century by Carl Czerny, Adolf Bernhard Marx, Otto Jahn and Ebenezer Prout, among others.



Nikos Andrikos: The ecclesiastical music production in 20th-century Lesvos: a historical – stylistic approach


This article could be regarded as an attempt to outline the action and work of a group of personalities, who were well known for their presence in the field of ecclesiastical music in 20th-century Lesvos. The case of Lesvos will provide us the opportunity to deal with issues of a broader musicological interest, relating, for example, to the existence of an oral interpretative idiom, the functioning of teaching and oral transmission networks, the aesthetic-morphological particularity of the original compositional production, etc

In 20th-century Lesvos, it is interesting to observe how an idiomatically autonomous compositional and interpretative trend was developed, which was yet directly related, both historically and aesthetically, to the innovative model of the “School of Smyrna”. The broad compositional and teaching work of Nikolaos Papageorgiou should be considered as a fundamental influential factor in the region, while the established dipole of Michael Karykas – Georgios Kritikos, which emerged from as early as the interwar period, would result in the contemporaneous activity of two parallel networks of oral transmission and original compositional production. Furthermore, it should be noted that the overall activity in the field of ecclesiastical music was carried out with the same intensity both in the urban area of Mytilene and the country of Lesvos, having as a common typological characteristic the ideologically conscious handling of the historical material in an alternative, original and innovative manner.



Ion Zottos: Chopin’s Variations opus 2 and Schumann; Mozart and E. T. A. Hoffmann


This last paper by Ion Zottos was read in a symposium for Chopin’s 200th anniversary of his birth in 2010 and deals mainly with Schumann’s famous and enthusiastic music critique of Chopin’s Variations on “La ci darem la mano” from Mozart’s Don Giovanni, in a manner that freely recalls the Tales of Hoffmann.



Anastasia Kakaroglou – Katy Romanou: Extracts from Guillaume André Villoteau’s De l’état actuel de l’art musical en Égypte (VII – final)


In this issue of Polyphonia we complete the publication of a translation of Guillaume André Villoteau’s important text “De la musique grecque moderne”, that is the fourth chapter of his dissertation entitled De l’état actuel de l’art musical en Égypte… (1826). The final “Article” 10 ends with the music and the verses of two Greek folk songs. They are among the earliest music examples of Greek folk songs to appear in a publication. Most probably Villoteau wrote them down in 1798. The largest part of this final “article” on Greek music refers to modal transpositions. All music examples and plates in this translation have been photographed from the French edition of 1826.



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