Superlatives with this concert series might seem monotonous – but judge for yourself: renowned Toccata Classics have released their CD of Hans Gal, one composer featured. The interval saw a buying frenzy. Repertoire-roving Ensemble Burletta, risen stars internationally, fall on Brighton.
Shelley Levy clarinettist partners violinist Katalin Kertész, Nichola Joy Blakey and Cressida Nash on viola and cello.
Rezso Kokai (1906-62) is new to me; his 1952 Quartettino’s a chirruping neo-classical Parisian affair; then suddenly Hungarian, with Zoltan Kodaly’s rhapsodic Summer Evening beating in the swooning heart of its Canzonetta.
Viennese Hans Gal (1890-1987), whom Kodaly called the Lost Hungarian because of his roots, was also a Jewish exile to Edinburgh, where despite co-founding its Festival, he’s not as honoured as his re-emerging fame deserves. His spirited but autumnally gentle 1935 Serenade out-faces persecution (though the ensemble take their name from its shadowy burlesque movement), ending with astonishing serenity.
Kodaly arrives himself at 23, in 1905: his string trio Intermezzo, through rippling modulations edges a penumbra of later melodic warmth. Johnann Nepomuk Hummel (1778-1837) put Beethoven out of business as pianist, with his feared rondos. Haydn gave him his old job. We remember his piano concertos, but his 1807 Quartetto’s deeply loved by chamber players. There’s tension in grace, memorable bubbly invention. If Levy’s eloquent clarinet dominates, the string players with Kertész at their head delight in textures, revelling in solo moments. Collectively stunning.