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The Fruit Basket is a setting of children's poems by Sándor Weöres, and starts with a tune sounding like Ten Green Bottles [listen -- track 8, 0:01-0:19] (was this originally a Hungarian folk tune?) before giving us a variety of settings, including some genuinely lovely melodies [listen -- track 10, 0:01-0:25]. Farkas's invention in these settings is everything you could wish for, entering the fantastical world of children without being remotely condescending -- a talent relatively few composers have had.

Mezzo Ulrike Schneider could also have been placed more forward, but gives unaffected and characterful performances of these songs. Infused with Hungarian folkloric, from the offbeat tone-painting of The Frog King [listen -- track 16, 0:00-0:35] to the folksy Noon Clouds [listen -- track 19, 0:01-0:33], Farkas demonstrates his worthiness to be placed alongside the likes of Milhaud, Poulenc or Françaix in this medium -- the whole set simply reeks charm.

Old Hungarian Dances of the 17th Century is unbelievably the only piece to have made the repertoire. Listening to the opening [track 20, 0:01-0:35] one is immediately reminded of the Respighi of the Ancient Airs and Dances, but Farkas (in fact in many different versions he made of this piece) gives us the Hungarian equivalent, carried out with flair and care. Listen to sheer craftmanship at work [track 24, 0:55-1:25].

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Copyright © 4 October 2007 Paul Sarcich, London UK


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