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Farkas: Complete Wind Quintets / Phoebus Quintet


Release Date: 10/10/2006 
Label:  Toccata Classics   Catalog #: 19   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Ferenc Farkas
Performer:  Dieter LangeMartin RoosUlrike SchneiderChristoph Bösch,   ... 
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Phoebus QuintetPhoebus Woodwind Quintet
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 12 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews


Respighi studied abroad with Rimsky-Korsakov, and returned the favor by training and assisting the careers of young, talented hopefuls who approached him after his return to Italy. Among his students was the Hungarian, Ferenc Farkas (1905–2000). An admirable technician and communicator, Farkas in turn returned home to assume a number of administrative and teaching positions, culminating in the composition chair at the Budapest Academy of Music. He held that post for 26 years, through 1975, but continued creating works well over his 90th year. Farkas’s musical legacy is huge: over 700 compositions, more than 400 songs, 20 concertos, roughly 75 films, etc. His influences were cosmopolitan, including Kodály, Bartók, Read more Berg, Gesualdo, Stravinsky, Italian opera, and the native folk-song revival that began in the early 20th century and remains so much a part of Hungarian culture to this day.


The six works on this album provide some idea of Farkas’s stylistic range. The Serenade (1951) weighs in on the cheerful side of neo-Classicism, and includes a persuasively tender Andante. Both the Rondo capriccio (1959) and the Quattro Pezzi (1966)—the latter composed for the unlikely chamber combination of woodwind quintet and double bass—borrow the harmonic language, sardonic attitude, and contrapuntal agility of Busoni. Gyümolcskosár , a “Fruit Basket of Songs” (1980), ranges across the stylistic spectrum. With greater or lesser dissonance, neo-Romantic, neo-Classical, or Kodály-inflected nationalism, all 12 songs based on poems by Sándor Weöres reflect the same sparing textures and attention to detail. Some, like “Frog King” and “The Fairy,” are also affectionately playful, a quality they share with the Lavottiana (1967). It’s a collection based on airs and fragments written by turn-of-the-19th-century violinist, János Lavotta. Farkas deliberately set about creating a group of five pieces in the Hungarian Biedermeier style; and although he wrote that “this pasticcio is never ironic,” a good-humored twinkle in the composer’s eye cannot be ignored.


Finally, there’s the Old Hungarian Dances of the 17th Century (1959). This is a pastiche, as well, and the only work by Farkas to achieve international recognition. Several arrangements exist, and at least half a dozen recordings of it are currently available. Once again, the composer plays it straight, although the last piece, a saltarello, sports some delightfully droll touches in ornamentation and accompaniment.


The performances are in general very good, although there are occasional moments of insecurity from the horn. This lineup of members in the Phoebus Wind Quintet has been playing together since 1995, and it shows in their tonal blend and accuracy. I’m still inclined to give the palm for the Old Hungarian Dances of the 17th Century to the Frösunda Woodwind Quintet (BIS 136). Despite its analog origins, their recording provides more effective tempo contrasts among the work’s five brief but atmospheric movements. But none of the other Farkas woodwind pieces are available on CD at this time, and the Phoebus folks are more attentive to shading and note values than several of the other readings I have. For the rest, I’m most impressed on this release by Ulrike Schneider, who possesses an attractively high mezzo, refined phrasing, and a strong theatrical sense. She brings the Gyümolcskosár vividly to life. I certainly wouldn’t mind hearing more from this soloist.


The ambiance provided by the Reformed Church in Arlesheim, Switzerland, is a bit over-sized and glassy for my tastes, but your opinion may differ on this. In any case, with excellent notes and four language texts of the songs, this is highly recommended.


FANFARE: Barry Brenesal
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Works on This Recording

1.
Serenade for Woodwind Quintet by Ferenc Farkas
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Phoebus Quintet
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1951; Hungary 
2.
Pieces (4) for Double Bass and Winds by Ferenc Farkas
Performer:  Dieter Lange (Double Bass)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Phoebus Quintet
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1966 
3.
Fruit Basket by Ferenc Farkas
Performer:  Martin Roos (French Horn), Ulrike Schneider (Mezzo Soprano), Christoph Bösch (Flute),
Dimitri Ashkenazy (Clarinet), Susan Landert (Bassoon), Barbara Zumthurn-Nunlist (Oboe),
Ulrich Schneider (Mezzo Soprano)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Phoebus Quintet,  Phoebus Woodwind Quintet
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1980; Hungary 
Venue:  Reformed Church, Arlesheim, Switzerland 
Length: 17 Minutes 40 Secs. 
Notes: Reformed Church, Arlesheim, Switzerland (06/1999 - 01/2000) 
4.
Antiche Danze Ungheresi dal Secolo XVII by Ferenc Farkas
Performer:  Dimitri Ashkenazy (Clarinet), Christoph Bösch (Flute), Susan Landert (Bassoon),
Martin Roos (French Horn), Barbara Zumthurn-Nunlist (Oboe)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Phoebus Quintet,  Phoebus Woodwind Quintet
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1959; Hungary 
Venue:  Reformed Church, Arlesheim, Switzerland 
Length: 10 Minutes 5 Secs. 
Notes: Reformed Church, Arlesheim, Switzerland (06/1999 - 01/2000) 
5.
Rondo Capriccio by Ferenc Farkas
Performer:  Daniel Dodds (Violin)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Phoebus Quintet
Period: 20th Century 
Written: Hungary 
6.
Lavottiana by Ferenc Farkas
Performer:  Christoph Bösch (Flute), Barbara Zumthurn-Nunlist (Oboe), Dimitri Ashkenazy (Clarinet),
Martin Roos (French Horn), Susan Landert (Bassoon)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Phoebus Quintet,  Phoebus Woodwind Quintet
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1951; Hungary 
Venue:  Reformed Church, Arlesheim, Switzerland 
Length: 16 Minutes 15 Secs. 
Notes: Reformed Church, Arlesheim, Switzerland (06/1999 - 01/2000) 
7.
Serenade for Woodwind Quintet by Ferenc Farkas
Performer:  Dimitri Ashkenazy (Clarinet), Susan Landert (Bassoon), Christoph Bösch (Flute),
Martin Roos (French Horn), Barbara Zumthurn-Nunlist (Oboe)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Phoebus Woodwind Quintet
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1951; Hungary 
Venue:  Reformed Church, Arlesheim, Switzerland 
Length: 8 Minutes 52 Secs. 
Notes: Reformed Church, Arlesheim, Switzerland (06/1999 - 01/2000) 
8.
Pieces (4) for Double Bass and Winds by Ferenc Farkas
Performer:  Barbara Zumthurn-Nunlist (Oboe), Christoph Bösch (Flute), Martin Roos (French Horn),
Dimitri Ashkenazy (Clarinet), Susan Landert (Bassoon), Dieter Lange (Double Bass)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Phoebus Woodwind Quintet
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1966 
Venue:  Reformed Church, Arlesheim, Switzerland 
Length: 9 Minutes 9 Secs. 
Notes: Reformed Church, Arlesheim, Switzerland (06/1999 - 01/2000) 
9.
Rondo capriccio for Violin and Winds by Ferenc Farkas
Performer:  Christoph Bösch (Flute), Barbara Zumthurn-Nunlist (Oboe), Daniel Dodds (Violin),
Susan Landert (Bassoon), Dimitri Ashkenazy (Clarinet), Martin Roos (French Horn)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Phoebus Woodwind Quintet
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1966; Hungary 
Venue:  Reformed Church, Arlesheim, Switzerland 
Length: 9 Minutes 0 Secs. 
Notes: Reformed Church, Arlesheim, Switzerland (06/1999 - 01/2000) 

Sound Samples

Serenade: I. Allegro
Serenade: II. Andante espressivo
Serenade: III. Saltarello
4 Pezzi (version for double bass and woodwind quintet): I. Intrada
4 Pezzi (version for double bass and woodwind quintet): II. Scherzo
4 Pezzi (version for double bass and woodwind quintet): III. Petit poeme
4 Pezzi (version for double bass and woodwind quintet): IV. Rondo
Gyumolcskosar (Fruit basket): No. 1. Gaspar (Punch)
Gyumolcskosar (Fruit basket): No. 2. Ladika (The Magic Box)
Gyumolcskosar (Fruit basket): No. 3. Marasztalas (Sunbeams)
Gyumolcskosar (Fruit basket): No. 4. Falusi reggel (Morning in the Village)
Gyumolcskosar (Fruit basket): No. 5. Mondoka (Violets)
Gyumolcskosar (Fruit basket): No. 6. A kobeka (The Stone Frog)
Gyumolcskosar (Fruit basket): No. 7. Altatodal (Lullaby)
Gyumolcskosar (Fruit basket): No. 8. Szancsengo (Sleighbells)
Gyumolcskosar (Fruit basket): No. 9. Bekakiraly (Frog King)
Gyumolcskosar (Fruit basket): No. 10. A Tunder (The Little Elf)
Gyumolcskosar (Fruit basket): No. 11. Paprika Jancsi szerenadja (Harlequin Serenade)
Gyumolcskosar (Fruit basket): No. 12. Deli felhok (Midday Cloud)
Antiche danze ungheresi del 17. secolo (Old Hungarian Dances of the 17th Century): I. Intrada: Allegro moderato
Antiche danze ungheresi del 17. secolo (Old Hungarian Dances of the 17th Century): II. Lento: Moderato maestoso
Antiche danze ungheresi del 17. secolo (Old Hungarian Dances of the 17th Century): III. Danza della scapole: Allegro quasi Scherzo
Antiche danze ungheresi del 17. secolo (Old Hungarian Dances of the 17th Century): IV. Chorea: Moderato
Antiche danze ungheresi del 17. secolo (Old Hungarian Dances of the 17th Century): V. Saltarello: Allegro
Rondo capriccio (version for violin and woonwind quintet)
Lavottiana: I. Indulas Pannonia fele (March to Pannonia)
Lavottiana: II. Menuett (Minuet)
Lavottiana: III. Lassu verbunk es figura (Slow Verbunkos and Figura)
Lavottiana: IV. Nemet tancnota (German Dance-tune)
Lavottiana: V. Rondo Vigadozas a korcsmaban (Rondo in the Inn)

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