Ensemble Epomeo

String Trio

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Explore the Score: Hans Krasa- String Trios

It’s time for another sneak peek at the liner notes for our upcoming CD.

As you know, we’re right in the thick of an urgent fundraising campaign to get this disc out. We’re going to need to raise about $8000 USD to get this thing out, and need to raise at least $5,000 of that from our current Indiegogo campaign. The great news is that we’re making fantastic progress, and have already reached nearly %25 of our goal. You can help by making your donation, however big or small, and by spreading the word to friends and fellow music-lovers, especially via Facebook and Twitter.

‘If I state that I was influenced by Schönberg, by that I wish to emphasize the fact that I am trying all the more to avoid the emptiness which is so favoured. I try to write in such a way that every bar, every recitative and every note is necessarily a solid part of the whole. This logic, without which every composition has no spirit, can, however, degenerate into mathematic-scientific music if the iron law of opera is not heeded, namely that the sense and aim of opera is the singing. I am sufficiently daring, as a modern composer, to write melodic music.’

Hans Krása, 1938

 

Czech-born Hans Krása was one of the leading talents of a generation of composers inspired by Mahler, Schoenberg and Zemlinsky. After a string of early successes, Krása took a seven-year break from composition before coming into his full maturity in the 1930s. He is best remembered today for his 1938 children’s opera, Brundibár, a work that would be performed 55 times during Krása’s internment in the Terezin Ghetto during the Second World War.

Krása’s called his first string trio, completed in 1944, Tanec, or ‘Dance,’ but the title seems intentionally misleading. The churning ostinato with which the cello begins the piece is just the first of several bits of music tone-painting that evoke the sound-world of trains, in an atmosphere that ranges from eerie nostalgia, to barely contained menace, to explicit violence. The main dance theme, heard first in the violin, is frequently poised on the edge of mania, finally tipping over the edge on the work’s final page.

The Passacaglia and Fugue from later that same year was Krása’s final completed work. Krása takes these two ancient forms, in which the rules of rhetoric are traditionally engaged to give structure and lucidity to the exchange and development of ideas among independent voices, and profoundly deconstructs them. Rather than contrapuntal engagement leading towards reason and clarity, both the Fugue, and the Passacaglia that precedes it, essentially ‘fail’, as discussion degenerates into argument and argument descends into violence.

The primary theme of the work, the repeated figure that forms the structure of the Passacaglia, is first heard in the cello, but also often present is the ‘dance’ theme of the earlier Tanec. The Passacaglia opens in gravely austere beauty, but in the course of the variations that follow, the emotional temperature gradually rises until all hell breaks loose. After a desolate codetta, the viola begins the Fugue, on a speeded up version of the cello’s Passacaglia theme. The contrapuntal exchanges gradually become more rapid and intense, until, in the coda, the developmental process breaks down. Rather than engaging in reasoned dialogue and perpetual development, the music becomes violent and primitive. The cello repeats the passacaglia/fugue theme obsessively, fortissimo, all pretense of development abandoned, while the violin and viola scream out the ‘Tanec’ theme and the work drives headlong to a terrifying conclusion.

Krása was deported by train to Auschwitz alongside his fellow composers Gideon Klein, Viktor Ullmann and Pavel Haas on 16 October 1944 and was killed in the gas chambers two days later.

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Fundraising Campaign- Ensemble Epomeo “Letting Silenced Voices Sing,” string trios nearly lost to the Holocaust

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The Complete String Trios of Hans Gál and Hans Krása

 

Ensemble Epomeo need your help to relase a very beautiful and important CD of the complete music for string trio by Hans Gál and Hans Krása, leading members of a gifted generation of Jewish composers in Central Europe whose destinies were shaped by Nazi persecution in the years 1933-1945.

We can’t release this disc without your help. Please visit our Indiegogo fundraising campaign homepage to give what you can. We have some great thank-you’s available, and your donations are tax-deductable.

 

Hans Krása (1899-1944) was born in Prague and had established himself as one of the most exciting Czech composers of his generation in the years before WW II. However, in 1942, he was arrested by the Nazi’s and interred in the Theresienstadt ghetto, where he helped guid the unlikely flowering of a diverse musical life in collaboration with fellow-composers Pavel Haas, Gideon Klein and Viktor Ullmann until his deporation to Auschwitz, where he was murdered in the gas chambers on October 18, 1944. His two string trios come from the last months of his life, the visceral  and intense “Tanec” (or “Dance”) and the extraordinary “Passacaglia and Fugue,” the very last piece he wrote. Krása’s music was largely forgotten in the decades after the War, and has only recently begun to be rediscovered and fully appreciated

Viennese composer Hans Gál (1890-1987) was lucky to escape to Britain with his family in 1938, but endurred terrible hardships in British internment camps during the War, before settling in Edinburgh. His Serenade for Trio, opus 41, was composed in 1932, at the peak of his pre-war career when he was director of the conservatory in Mainz. His Trio in F-sharp Minor, opus 104, written in 1974, is part of the extraordinary late flowering of  Gál’s creativity in his ninth decade. Together, these two remarkable works frame a long and astonishingly diverse artistic life. Although Gál survied the war, his music fell into obscurity in the mid- 20th c., and these remarkable trios have remained almost completey unknown prior to their world-premiere recording on this disc. Ensemble Epomeo, in fact, gave the the first North American performances of both pieces.

Four beautiful and important works, long forgotten in the wake of tragedy and dislocation are brought together on this important recording for Avie Reocrds, who have led the way in the rediscovery of Gál’s music, with a series of recordings that have been among the most widely critically praised discs of the last few years. Gramophone Magazine has hailed Gál’s  “structural genius and contrapuntal mastery” and priased the serie’s ”…committed performance…splendid sound, warmly recommended.” Classic FM Magazine has said “Gál is truly worth rediscovering”saying the series has “left me intrigued and delighted”

This CD will be the debut disc from the Anglo-American string trio  Ensemble Epomeo, who gave the Gál trios their American premieres in 2010 and 2011 respectively.  The recording was made leading producer/engineer (and grandson of Hans Gál), Simon Fox and in the beautiful concert hall at the Millfield School in Somerset, England in December 2011.

Ensemble Epomeo, Caroline Chin-violin, David Yang-viola and Kenneth Woods-cello, is an internationally touring string trio, whose performances combine intensity, virtuosity and accessibility.

Founded in 2008, their inaugural tours saw them performing in Italy, the UK and the USA, with performances at the Newburyport and Ischia festivals, and broadcasts on New England Public Radio and WKCR Columbia University in New York, where they were the subject of a 3 hour special showcase concert.

For more information about Ensemble Epomeo and the music on our debut CD, please visit http://ensemble-epomeo.net/

Ensemble Epomeo’s debut CD is a sponsored project of Musica Reginae, a 501(c)(3) non-profit Arts organization. Contributions for Ensemble Epomeo must be made payable to Musica Reginae Productions and are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law. Donations made on Indiegogo will go directly to Musica Reginae.

WHAT WE NEED & WHAT YOU GET

This important disc is “in the can,’ but we can’t release it without your help!

We need you to help us raise $5000, a portion of the budget which includes production and post-production costs, mastering and pressing costs and mechanical copyright fees.

OTHER WAYS YOU CAN HELP

Please help spread the word about this project! You can join our Facebook page to stay in touch with the project.

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