Ferenc FARKAS (1905-2000)
Orchestral Music - Volume 4
Romanian Folk Dances from Bihar County (1988) [6:05]
Cantiones Optimć (1969) [7:57]
Old Hungarian Dances from the seventeenth century (1990) [14:01]
Harpsichord Concertino (1949) [19:24]
Musica Giocosa (1982) [7:54]
Serenata Concertante (1967) [12:44]
András Adorján (flute)
Viktória Herencsár (cimbalom)
Ingrid Kertesi (soprano)
Miklós Spányi (harpsichord)
Franz Liszt Chamber Orchestra/János Rolla
rec. 15–21 January 2015, Istituto italiano di cultura, Budapest. DDD.

Four of the six works in Toccata’s fourth volume of Ferenc Farkas’ orchestral music are new to disc. Only the Old Hungarian Dances and the Harpsichord Concertino have been recorded before, which makes this latest volume so intriguing a prospect.

The charming Romanian Folk Dances from Bihar County were written in 1950 and took original material from Bartók’s collection of folk music. Conceived for small forces – a solo instrument accompanied by piano – it was arranged for solo flute and string orchestra by Farkas in 1988 and dedicated to András Adorján who is the soloist in this recording. Use of the cimbalom adds colour in a sonata-form piece. In the rather beautiful Cantiones Optimae, Farkas adds a string orchestral backing of ripely romantic expression to the old Hungarian melodies. Ingrid Kertesi sings with an attractive richness of tone that remains appropriately scaled for the material.

Farkas reworked his Old Hungarian Dances from the Seventeenth Century over the years. After various permutations from the 1940s onwards he arrived at a flute-and-piano version in 1987 which he then expanded for flute and chamber orchestra three years later, and it’s the latter we hear, though the dedicatee of the former was, once again, Adorján. This is a zesty piece with a gorgeous Shoulder-Blade Dance (track 8) and opportunities for fast articulation in the finale, an athletic Leaping Dance.

Around the years he first began work on those Dances he was completing his Harpsichord Concertino, adeptly played by Miklós Spányi. The notes refer to this, amusingly but correctly, as espousing ‘international neo-classical’ elements. Its Hungarian quality is explored most fully in the central movement where fanciful tendrils of national colour can be heard, though the finale is the longest movement. Here there’s plenty of chiming verve, a colourful cadenza, and a very abrupt end. Musica Giocosa dates from 1982 and is a brief four-movement piece of which the quietly serious Arietta is the stand-out. At only eight-minutes it doesn’t outstay its welcome. The Serenata Concertante for flute and string orchestra is the most obviously serious concert piece in this selection of Farkas’ music. There are even elements of dodecaphony though what remains uppermost is the deftness of the writing and the way the thematic material plays back and forth. Birdsong is prominent in the finale, not least in the fanciful and splendid cadenza, brilliantly played by Adorján.

The flautist emerges as one of the heroes of the disc and he is splendidly accompanied by the experienced János Rolla who directs the forces of the Franz Liszt Chamber Orchestra. The fine recording venue was in Budapest but, perhaps surprisingly, it was at the Italian Cultural Institute in the city. With full song texts and customarily fine notes, volume four of the series hits the mark once again.

Jonathan Woolf
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