Ensemble Epomeo

String Trio

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CD Preview- Epomeo play Penderecki

 

We’ve just completed four days of recording for our newest Avie Records CD with producer Simon Fox at Bengrove Studios. It was a really fun but completely exhausting project- four incredibly interesting, rewarding and challenging works in very different styles.

The CD will be out in the Autumn, but we thought those of you who have been following the project might want a little sneak peak at the disc- an excerpt from the 2nd movement of Penderecki’s incredible String Trio from 1990-1.  Wild stuff- one doesn’t play this fast every day.

 

Ken's iPhone Feb 14 085

The Bengrove Studio control room

 

 

 

 

 

 

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CD Review Pizzicato Magazine on Gal/Krasa Complete String Trios

A five- star review of the Complete String Trios of Hans Gal and Hans Krasa from the February issue of the Luxembourg-based music magazine,  Pizzicato. Read the original here(about 10 pages in)

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Epomeo Play Krasa and Gal

English translation:

GAL AND KRASA

H. & H. Krasa Gal: Complete String Trios, Ensemble Epomeo; 1 CD Avie 2259;

12/11 (67’08)

 

Hans Gál (1890-1986) escaped the Nazis and fled to Scotland, while Hans Krasa (1899-1944) after internment in Theresienstadt was finally barbarically murdered in Auschwiz.

With her ​​carefree melodies and her dance elegance Hans Gal’s nearly half-hour  neoclassical Serenade from 1932 recalls Mozart. In Gal’s Trio from the year 1971, the viola is the most important voice, around which cello and violin is ensnared: The charm of the composition is the conversation between the three instruments of Chin, Yang and Woods, and receives a stimulating and inspiring performance.  The recordings are another compelling example of the campaign Kenneth Woods leads for the music of Hans Gal with as much love as for the music as expertise.

The two works for string trio by Hans Krasa on this disc originated in Theresienstadt, written shortly before his death. ‘Tanec’ (Dance) is a piece of music, which in its mere six minutes has much to say; emerging from swirling Dance music,  then  the subliminal beginning of the unrest and increasing latent fear.  In the expressive interpretation of the Ensembles ‘Epomeo’ this produces a particularly penetrating effect, especially when one remembers what  Theresienstadt was. This is even more true  for ‘Passacaglia and Fugue,’ whose darkly moody first Part ends in a final forward-driving nightmare. ReF

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CD Review- Tempo Magazine on Gal and Krasa- Complete String Trios

From the July 2013 issue:

 

Epomeo Play Krasa and Gal

“…In yet another release from Avie, Gál’s two pieces for string trio are performed by Ensemble Epomeo, whose cellist is none other than that all-round musician, Kenneth Woods. The Serenade in D dates from 1932 and is light and droll in character without any lowering of the composer’s usual high standards of inspiration and formal mastery. A varied, protean opening Capriccioso delights in catching the unwary listener off balance with its sudden shifts of harmony, texture and dynamics. The ensuing Cantabile features a flowing and luxuriant melody introduced by violin and later assumed by the viola over richly harmonized textures. Classical grace informs the Menuetto, with a romantic trio theme unexpectedly languishing at its centre. The concluding Alla marcia matches the opening movement in devious twists and turns of melodic invention and contains at its heart a typically song-like theme which takes wing effortlessly.

The other Gál piece on the disc, his Trio in F sharp minor, dates from 1971. Commissioned by the London Viola d’Amore Society, it was originally scored for violin, viola d’amore and cello, though the composer also made a version for standard string trio at the same time, and it is in this latter form that the piece appears on the  Avie CD. Though it dates from the same ‘late’ period as the composer’s Triptych for orchestra and Fourth Symphony reviewed above, the Trio is made of sterner stuff. In this rigorously worked-out piece Gál seems to be consciously making connexions with the Austro-German legacy to which his carefully honed musical voice is entirely attuned. An expressive viola solo launches a deeply passionate yet at times wistfully introspective opening Tranquillo con moto. The central Presto’s pointedly rhythmic, principal idea, sempre staccato, is contrasted with a more flowing trio-like episode and is wafted away in a delightfully insouciant closing gesture. Genuine emotional depths are plumbed once again in the concluding theme and variations, each of which is distinctive, yet assumes a logical place within the movement’s cogent overarching structure. One of the most impressive and penetrating of Gál’s later works, the Trio’s craftsmanship is impeccable and, as with all worthwhile compositions, it demands and rewards repeated listening.

These two contrasting Gál works for violin, viola and cello are accompanied by a pair of similarly scored pieces by the Czech composer Hans Krása (1899–1944). Both were written in 1944, whilst the composer was in the Terezin concentration camp and shortly before he was murdered at Auschwitz. Tanec (Dance) shows the quirky influence of Janáček, whilst substantial Passacaglia and Fugue, the last music Krása completed, is more profound and disquieting, at least in the Ensemble Epomeo’s performance, which, at an initially measured tempo, digs deep into this deeply moving score, ensures that each variation is effectively delineated, and brings instinctive virtuosity to the frenzied and terrifying deconstructive conclusions to both the Fugue and Passacaglia sections of the piece.

All four items are played with palpable commitment and inspiriting vigour by Ensemble Epomeo and they are faithfully recorded in a warm and vibrant acoustic. This disc helpfully presents fine examples of Gál’s craft nearly four decades apart and the insightful, bravura performances of the Krása pieces set the seal on a highly recommendable release… “

—Paul Conway

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Scotia Festival 2013 in review- Ensemble Epomeo Recital

A review of Ensemble Epomeo’s recital on the 27th of May from Chronicle Herald chief critic, Stephen Pedersen. Read the original here.

CONCERT REVIEW: String trio brings zest to range of styles

May 29, 2013 – 5:22pm BY STEPHEN PEDERSEN
Ensemble Epomeo — Caroline Chin, violin, David Yang, viola and Kenneth Woods, cello — is a first-rate trio making its mark on Halifax this Scotia Festival season. (BENJAMIN EALOVEGA)

Ensemble Epomeo — Caroline Chin, violin, David Yang, viola and Kenneth Woods, cello — is a first-rate trio making its mark on Halifax this Scotia Festival season. (BENJAMIN EALOVEGA)

Ensemble Epomeo, the remarkable string trio working the Scotia Festival this season, showed us their interesting, but largely unknown, repertoire, at the Dunn Tuesday night.

They played works by 20th century composers Gyorgy Kurtag, Krzysztof Penderecki, Hans Krasa, followed with a bright, energetic performance of Beethoven’s Trio for Violin, Viola and Cello, op. 3.

It really was only then that we got back to familiar turf.

They topped off the program with Richard Strauss’s variations on a Bavarian folk song. Talk about your musical whipped cream. It was a delicious set of variations in 18th-century style, Strauss stepping back from his own time to savour more traditional delights of musical form

The German title is roughly translated as The Girl is Mad at Me.

“Mad” unfortunately is too ambiguous a word to choose among the possible meanings of “angry” and “crazy in love.” Maybe its very ambiguity is the point of the title. Emotions are such sticky things to define once caught up in them.

You always feel you are in good hands with Epomeo, even when trampling through the murky moods of mid-20th century angst. In Europe, at least, that was a dark time, full of dictators, pogroms and organized hatred, a perfect exemplum of what George Orwell was on about in his futuristic 1984.

How music could be made in such anxious times is a human miracle.

Thanks to Ensemble Epomeo, we are allowed not just a glimpse of the times, but a movie of the moods and emotions those closer to the time were exposed to.

There was some compositional preoccupation with form in the seven short movements of Gyorgy Kurtag’s Signs, Games, and Messages for String Trio and more emotional turmoil in the two movements of Krzysztof Penderecki’s String Trio.

On the second half of the program we felt right at home after these turbulent pieces with the familiar vocabulary of Beethoven’s Trio, op. 3.

Ensemble Epomeo is a first-rate trio with such mastery of both the familiar and the new (to us at least) to give us confidence in the music and to seed a desire to hear more of it, more of composers like Kurtag and Krasa. Penderecki as well, except we are probably more at home with his music.

Who, for example, after once hearing his extraordinary Threnody for the Victims of Hiroshima, can ever forget it?

Ensemble Epomeo is making its mark on Halifax this Scotia Festival season.

Stephen Pedersen is a freelance arts writer who lives in Halifax

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CD Review- Limelight Magazine on Gal/Krasa Complete String Trios

A very nice review from the May 2013 issue of Limelight Magazine (Australia)

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Epomeo Play Krasa and Gal
KRASA • GAL
Trio Op 104, Serenade in D, Tanec, Passacaglia and Fugue
Ensemble Epomeo
AVIE AV2259
By Phillip Scott on May 22, 2013

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“Powerful 20th-century String Trios Prove A Real Discovery”.

Chamber music is the ideal medium for composers with a knack for polyphony. Here we have a fascinating disc of string trios by two exact contemporaries who were among the victims of Hitler’s Germany. Hans Gál fled to Scotland and lived a long (if obscure) life, while the Czech Hans Krása was interned at Terezin and killed in Auschwitz in 1944. While their music differs in intensity, both men were skilled at writing counterpoint so all these works are full of interest.

Gál’s Serenade dates from 1932. Notable for its high spirits, it follows in the wake of similar trios by Beethoven and Dohnányi. The Trio of 1971 is understandably more autumnal in quality (apart from its Mendelssohnian Scherzo) and features a set of gentle, lyrical variations as its final movement.

Krása’s music was heavily influenced by the Second Viennese School and is made of tougher stuff. Tanec (or Dance) is a short work evoking the sound of trains, with a tender chorale in the middle section. In the powerful Passacaglia and Fugue, the underlying emotional impetus stretches these highly structured forms almost to breaking point in Krása’s final composition.

The performances by the Ensemble Epomeo are beyond praise: lively, warm-toned and well balanced in excellent sound. Cellist Kenneth Woods penned the informative sleeve note. Genuine buried treasure here.

Copyright © Limelight Magazine. All rights reserved

This article appeared in the May 2013 issue of Limelight Magazine

AVIE AV2259
Ensemble Epomeo

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Upcoming Concert- Epomeo and Friends at Deal Festival, Verklarte Nacht

Ensemble EPOMEO

Headlining At:

Location Time Date
Charlton Church 7:30 pm Friday 8 Mar 2013

Ensemble Epomeo are joined by violinist Diane Pascal, violist Tom Hankey and cellist, and artistic director of the Deal Festival, Matthew Sharp for what promises to be an unforgettable chamber music event.

In a concert to be recorded for a SOMM Recordings CD release, Ensemble Epomeo play Beethoven’s epic, joyous and sublime String Trio in E flat op 3 and Schoenberg’s Verklarte Nacht op 4. written in an irresistibly late-romantic, intoxicating style with the blood of Mahler, Strauss and even Wagner coursing through its veins.

During the interval, some of East Kent’s budding young composers and performers will be sharing the results of their two-day project with acclaimed Kent-based composer, David Knotts.

7.30pm Charlton Church, St Alphage Road, Dover CT16 2PU

Tickets £12.00 Students £5.00

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CD Review- Fanfare Magazine, Jerry Dubbins of Gal/Krasa Complete String Trios

A new review of the Complete String Trios of Hans Gal and Hans Krasa from Fanfare Magazine

 

GÁL Serenade in D, op. 41. Trio in fT, op. 104. KRÁSA Tanec (Dance). Passacaglia and Fugue Ÿ Ens Epomeo Ÿ AVIE 2259 (67:08)

 

 

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Epomeo Play Krasa and Gal

 

Hans Gál has been receiving some well-deserved, if belated, attention on disc lately. Just a couple of issues back, I reviewed a must-have recording by cellist Antonio Meneses performing Gál’s very beautiful cello concerto. And now, here on the present release, we have what is advertised as the complete string trios of both Gál and his close contemporary, Hans Krása. Though born only nine years apart— Gál in 1890 and Krása in 1899— Gál was fortunate to escape the advancing Nazi forces into Austria, fleeing to the U.K. in 1938 and eventually settling in Edinburg, where he died in 1987.

Krása was not so lucky. He was deported first to the Theresienstadt concentration camp and then transferred to Auschwitz where he was killed in 1944. Given Krása’s much shorter life, it’s understandable that his output is considerably less than Gáls’s. Neither composer, however, apparently devoted much effort to the string trio, since the contents of this CD are said to be the extent of it.

The two Gál works are recorded here for the first time, and, in terms of scale, they’re both major additions to the literature, each lasting over 25 minutes. Written in 1932, before the serious trouble began, the Serenade lives up to its title, in name, if not strictly in form. The piece is in four movements in what I would describe as a nod to the Baroque and Classical periods as reflected through the lens of an easygoing, listener-friendly modernist style that teases and tickles the ear with fractured and fragmented references to familiar pieces. Throughout the first movement (Capriccioso), for example, you’ll hear the distinctive three-note pattern that permeates the first movement of Bach’s G-Major Brandenburg Concerto.

While I wouldn’t want to push the analogy too far, I’d say that to a degree Gál’s Serenade reminds me of some of Hindemith’s Kleine Kammermusik pieces. Gál’s score is mostly busy, breezy, and boffo, perhaps more in the manner of a divertimento than a serenade.

Just as long, but in only three movements this time, the Trio in F# Minor is a much later work, dating from 1971, after the trouble was over. The piece was commissioned by the London Viola d’amore Society and originally scored for violin, viola d’amore, and cello, but Gál made this version for traditional string trio at the same time. The mood is now introspective, brooding, and perhaps a bit bereft. If there’s an analogue here, I’d have to say that the Trio seems to look back to the highly chromatic, freely tonal style familiar to us from works of the late 19th- and early 20th-century Viennese composers before they succumbed to the siren of dodecaphonism. In other words, Gál’s Trio is a nostalgic soak in a muddy pond. But mud baths are supposed to be therapeutic, and this one left me with a nice, warm glow.

The Krása pieces are considerably shorter—six minutes for Tanec and just under 10 minutes for the Passacaglia and Fugue. Tanec, or Dance, was composed in the last year of Krása’s life. With its strong rhythmic thrust, ostinato figure in the cello, and Hungarian folk flavor, the music is at first suggestive of Bartók, but as Kenneth Woods’s note indicates, the piece is meant to be evocative of trains, with the obvious reference to the boxcars that transported Krása and the millions of others to the death camps. To quote Woods, “the atmosphere ranges from eerie nostalgia, to barely contained menace, to explicit violence,” and ends in a series of manic shrieks.

Written later that same year (1944), the Passacaglia and Fugue is Krása’s last completed work. It’s difficult to describe this music of broken spirit and soul. Initially, Shostakovich comes to mind in a frozen soundscape benumbed by cruel and forbidding cold. But slowly, the music rises to a pitch of bickering and physical altercation.

The recording at hand represents the Ensemble Epomeo’s disc debut. Named for the Mediterranean volcano, Mt. Epomeo, the group was founded when the three players—Caroline Chin, violin; David Yang, viola; and Kenneth Woods, cello—came together at the Festivale di Musica da Camera d’Ischia in Italy on 2008. It’s always difficult to judge an ensemble in unfamiliar repertoire, but I think I can say that the Epomeo’s musicians are more than up to the technical task of their business and that they sound intensely engaged in the emotional worlds of these two composers and their music. I would now look forward to hearing the ensemble in something more familiar, like Mozart’s great Divertimento in EI Major, K 563, or the Beethoven string trios. Meanwhile, this new, excellent recording is strongly recommended.

Jerry Dubins

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String trio Ensemble Epomeo returning to the Two Rivers Festival for first concert of 2013

Jan 30 2013 by Lorna Hughes, Birkenhead News

THE Two Rivers Festival begins its 2013 series of concerts on Friday, February 8 with a newly-commissioned work.

Captain Samuels Speaks To The Sea tells the story of American sea-captain Samuel Samuels, who sailed the transatlantic shipping lanes in the mid-19th Century.

His ship Dreadnought held the record for the fastest crossing ever made between New York and Liverpool by a three-masted clipper.

The concert is a setting of an original text by Peter Davison composed by Philadelphia-based Melissa Dunphy.

It will be performed by string trio, Ensemble Epomeo, who have received critical praise for their imaginative approach, attention to detail and passionate performances.

The music is based on traditional sea shanties, and the audience will have a chance to hear original tunes sung by close-harmony group BarLine before the main performance.

The work was premiered in October last year at the Custom House Maritime Museum in Newburyport, USA.

Peter Davison, the festival’s artistic director, said: “This will be a unique event. Melissa Dunphy’s piece received a standing ovation at its premiere performance and many were moved to tears.

“It is a marvellous way to celebrate the maritime history of this part of the world and its connections with the USA.”

The Ensemble will also perform with pianist Clare Hammond, a former Young Musician of the Year finalist, in a programme which includes works by Mahler, Beethoven and Andrew Keeling.

The concert is the first in a series of four for 2013. For more information visit www.tworiversfestival.co.uk

The concert gets underway at 7.30pm on Friday, February 8.

It will be performed at Bushell Hall, Birkenhead School, Beresford Road, Prenton.

Tickets for the night will cost £15 or half price for under 16s.

For more information about the evening telephone 651 3095.

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CD Review- Strad Magazine, Matthew Rye, on Gal/Krasa Complete String Trios

 

From the December 2012 issue of The Strad

A disc of String trios where time and place play an inescapable role

 

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Epomeo Play Krasa and Gal

 

Here is music for string trio by two composers of Jewish heritage from the same generation, whose experience of the cold hand of Nazism resulted in different fates. The Viennese Hans Gál managed to escape to Britain in 1928 and lived to the ripe old age of 97; the unluckier Czech-born Hans Krása enjoyed, if that’s the word, a brief stay of execution at the Jewish show camp of Terezin before being murdered in Auschwitz aged 44. The players of Ensemble Epomeo capture the charm of Gál’s delightful neo-Classical Serenade (1932) with a sense of line and subtlety of texture. But, one feels, they could have brought more muscle to the emotional sound world of the F sharp minor Trio, with its nostalgic throwback to pre-war Vienna viewed from the sanctuary of 1970’s Edinburgh (and which in its original version included a viola d’amore).

However, they certainly don’t hold back in the short Krása pieces, written during the composer’s last days in Terezin. Here they exploit the dance-of-death tendencides of the Tanec and the sense of order overthrown in the Passacaglia and Fugue (each of which dissipates into Expressionist anarchy) and a frightenly challenging end. A warmly-recorded and thought-provoking disc.

Matthew Rye

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CD Review- Martin Anderson, Klassik Magazine, on Gal/Krasa Complete String Trios

Gál  Serenade D dur, op. 41; Trio in F sharp major, op. 104; Krása TanecPassacaglia og Fuge

Ensemble Epomeo

Avie AV2259 (67 minutter)

1 2 3 4 5 6

This disc of string trios presents two highly contrasted victims of Hitler. The music of Hans Gál (1890–1987), born just outside Vienna, embodies the virtues of Viennese tradition: it is elegant, cultured and effortlessly resourceful – Gál was both a natural lyricist and a natural contrapuntist, which means that his music appeals to heart and brain in equal measure. The Serenade (1932) is full of understated energy, like happy Reger; by the time of the op. 104 Trio (1971), when Gál was 81, his music is suffused by a profound and gentle wisdom; the closing set of variations is masterly. I knew Hans Gál at the end of his long life. He told me once that his parents had taken him, when he was six, to hear one of Mahler’s first performances at the Wiener Hofoper. ‘But that was 1897’, I gasped in astonishment, but he still remembered it clearly, and you have the same sense of stylistic continuity in his music. The raw energy in the two pieces by Hans Krása (1899–1944), by contrast, indicate what was lost in October 1944 when, with his fellow composer-inmates from the ghetto of Terezín, he was bundled onto a transport to Auschwitz and gassed two days later. There’s a rough-edged vitality here that reveals that the Janáček tradition, in normal circumstances, would have had lots of life in it yet. Beautiful performances from the Ensemble Epomeo.

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Epomeo Play Krasa and Gal