Fantasia Tropica – Geza Frid: String Quartets / Amaryllis Quartet

Music of the Dutch pianist and composer Géza Frid is given world premiere recordings on this new Coviello Classics CD containing his four string quartets. The music was written over a span of thirty years, the first in 1926 and the fourth, 1956. Frid’s musical roots clearly lie in his native Hungary. His music is strongly influenced by his primary early teachers, Zoltán Kodály and Béla Bartók, and like those two Hungarian masters, his melodies and rhythms are flavored by the folk music of the region. There is also evident the further and rather strong influence of French impressionism.

Frid eschewed the prevailing musical-intellectual course of the time toward the twelve-tone technique and serialism, but his music is not predominately tonal either. It’s very interesting to listen to and will likely appeal to listeners who enjoy the quartets of Bartók and Shostakovich. The audio sample we have provided says it best; it is the final movement of Frid’s String Quartet no. 1, Op. 2 (1926). The heart of the music is Hungarian, but you can hear the influences of impressionism, especially the music of Ravel.

The young Amaryllis Quartett has become known for their live concert programs of highly contrasting music. This approach has been evident in the programs for their recordings as well. The first two releases from the quartet are on the Genuin label; one is of Haydn and Webern and the other, Beethoven and Berg. They have been active premiering new music in the concert hall, and with the recording debuts on this release, have taken that practice to the recording studio as well. This disc is definitely one for the adventurous listener. At Expedition Audio, that’s our target audience.

Album Overview

Géza Frid (1904-1989), a Dutch composer of Hungarian origin, was one of the most influential personages on the Dutch musical scene after the Second World War. His musical roots lie in his native country of Hungary, however. He studied piano with Béla Bartók and composition with Zoltán Kodály, thus, his musical development was shaped by the two great Hungarian musicians of the prewar period. Although he emigrated in 1929, acquired Dutch citizenship in 1948, and was almost fully integrated into postwar Dutch society, he never forgot his origins. The melody and rhythm of his music are clearly influenced by the folklore of his homeland. In this respect, there are obvious parallels with Bartók, and Frid also shared his teacher’s particular fondness for string instruments: He composed five string quartets, a sonata for solo violin, twenty violin duos, and three violin concertos.

The German/Swiss Amaryllis Quartet presents four of his string quartets in world premiere recordings. The Quartett was trained in Basel by Walter Levin, first violinist of the LaSalle Quartet, and received coaching from the Alban Berg Quartett in Cologne. The rediscovery of forgotten masterworks is one priority for the members of the young quartet. The quartet is also an advocate of contemporary music, however, and has premiered several new works, among them those of Berlin jazz cellist and composer Mathis Brun and the Estonian composer Eino Tamberg. The Amaryllis Quartett plays regularly for concert series and festivals in Germany, Switzerland, and elsewhere in Europe.

Track List

String Quartet no. 1, op. 2 (comp. 1926)
I Tranquillo
II Presto
III Lento, rubato
IV Allegro vivace

String Quartet no. 2, op. 21, „Fugues“ (comp. 1939)
I Andante
II Andantino
III Allegretto
IV Allegro
V Intermezzo
VI Finale

String Quartet no. 3, op. 30, „Fantasia tropica“ (comp. 1949)
I La sera. Poco sostenuto – Presto tumultuoso
II La notte. Lento misterioso
III Il giorno. Poco sostenuto – Presto tumultuoso
IV La sera. Poco sostenuto – Presto tumultuoso

String Quartet no. 4, op. 50a (comp. 1956)
I Quasi improvisando – Allegro marcato
II Andante cantabile
III Presto leggero

total time: 81:28


Performers: Amaryllis Quartett

After winning the Finalists’ Prize at the Premio Paolo Borciani 2011 in Reggio Emilia (no First Prize was awarded) and then, only four weeks later, winning First Prize and the Grand Prize at the 6th Melbourne International Chamber Music Com- petition, the Amaryllis Quartett now numbers among the first rank of string quartets of their generation.

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Members: Gustav Frielinghaus, violin; Lena Wirth, violin; Lena Eckels, viola; Yves Sandoz, violoncello

Composer: Géza Frid 

Géza Frid (1904 – 1989) was born in Máramarossziget in the Carpathians, at the time part of Hungary but since 1918 within Romanian territory. Frid’s oeuvre of over one hundred works is comprehensive, including five string quartets, numerous orchestral works, concertos for two and for three violins and orchestra, works for wind orchestra, and an opera.

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