Skalkottas' Thirty-Two Piano Pieces (originally titled in German 32 Klavierstücke) is one of the composer's most monumental creative achievements, this from a composer whose work often enough tended to monumentality (e.g. the gigantic seventy minute long Second Symphonic Suite, the Third Piano Concerto and Fourth String Quartet, the twenty-five minute overture, The Return of Ulysses, the monumental Sonata for Basson and Piano, and the evening-long Cycle-Concert).
The Thirty-Two Piano Pieces are not only monumental in scope and duration -- a complete performance lasts one and a half hours -- but also in their at times superhuman (or 'inhuman') technical demands. Yet, they were written in an astoundingly short period of time, apparently in three short bursts of one week each during the months of June, July and August of 1940.
An excerpt from Andrew Pincus' Musicians with a Mission: Keeping the Classical Tradition Alive:
The music requires an "an enormous mind and intellect' to play it," he said, and a technique to match. Idith Meshulum, a young Israeli living in New York, met the requirements. "I took her on even before I heard her," Schuller said. " I just believed in her. That's the way I am. I'm crazy. We talked on the phone many times and I believed in her enthusiasm, this burning desire, belief in this music. And then when I started recording her, I tell you I found an absolute treasure. The girl makes no note mistakes in an entire session. No wrong notes." If Schuller suggested changes in interpretive details or in such matters as pedaling, rhythm, or tempo, "next time she just did it."
"Ms. Meshulam plays with energetic moxie and aplomb, her technique truly phenomenal, yet her subtle coloring of the introspective passages is no less awe-inspiring." — American Record Guide
“It is a tragic fact that a composer of such stature became known to the world at large only posthumously.”
— Yannis Papaioannou
Greek composer & pianist (1911-2000)