ALBUM TITLE: Farkas
WORKS: Serenade; Quattro Pezzi; Fruit Basket; Antiche danze ungheresi del 17 seculo
PERFORMER: Phoebus Quintet; Ulrike Schneider (mezzo-soprano), Daniel Dodds (violin), Dieter Lange (bass)
CATALOGUE NO: TOCC 0019
In volume of output, Ferenc Farkas (1905-2000) is something of a Hungarian Villa-Lobos, and his Serenade from 1951 has a touch of the Brazilian composer’s fluid fecundity of invention. Farkas has something also of V-L’s seasoning of his music with ethnically spiced ingredients – the five Antiche danze draw on 17th-century Hungarian dance tunes, ranging from the courtly elegance of the ‘Intrada’ to the impertinently peppery ‘Saltarello’ finale. Lavottiana is similar in conception, drawing on fragments by the obscure Hungarian Baroque composer Lavotta (Respighi taught Farkas, and encouraged his engagement with national music heritage).
The basic quintet is augmented by a mezzo-soprano in Gyümölcskosár (‘Fruit Basket’), a delightful cycle of 12 short children’s poems eliciting from Farkas joyful imitations of donkey, bells and cockerel and, in ‘Sunbeams’, beguilingly memorable melodic writing.
The Phoebus Quintet perform with deftness, wit and nimble technical mastery. It’s an old cliché of critical special pleading, I know, but here is music which really does deserve to be much better known. Terry Blain