Ensemble Epomeo

String Trio

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CD REVIEW- CLASSICAL CD REVIEWS ON VERKLARTE NACHT AND BRAHMS SERENADE NO. 1

A new review of the recent Somm CD of Schoenberg’s Verklarte Nacht and Brahms’s Serenade in D major from critic Gavin Dixon at Classical CD Reviews

Somm 0139 Cover

“. But this group, the string trio Ensemble Epomeo with three extra players, instead strives for, and achieves, clarity of line and texture. The textures are appropriately bass heavy, and the two cellos dominate, but every line comes through with exceptional clarity. This gives the piece a new profile, with the complex but now clear counterpoint driving the music and leading the ear through the harmonic web. There is atmosphere here too, and much warmth in the ensemble’s sound, but that is never at the expense of the individual lines…The chamber version of the Serenade is similarly open in its textures and is presented with equal clarity and precision. This time round, though, there is less need for such an analytical approach. Even in its larger version, this work is all about clarity and directness of expression. Woods, who now moves from the cello desk to the podium, gives an appropriately bright and carefree account. The players interact well, and there is a clear unity of intent within the ensemble. “

http://www.classical-cd-reviews.com/2014/07/brahms-schoenberg-ensemble-epomeo.html

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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- 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- 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

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CD Review- Classical CD Reviews, Gavin Dixon on Gal/Krasa Complete String Trios

A new review from critic Gavin Dixon on the excellent Classical CD Reviews website.


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Music by the Theresienstadt composers comes with all sorts of historical and political baggage, and while the musical qualities of Ullmann, Krása, Klein and their colleagues are now widely appreciated, their works are usually presented together and in isolation from anything else. This approach is defensible in some musical respects, particularly through the fact that each of the composers who worked at Theresienstadt was transformed by the experience, leading them to write music they would never have contemplated on the outside. But the ghetto approach to the presentation of these works perpetuates the injustice that created it. With that in mind, it is all the more laudable that two Theresienstadt works by Hans Krása are programmed here with the Gál. The camp makes its presence felt in the terseness of Krása’s musical prose; his message is concentrated because his days are numbered. Even so, there are interesting stylistic links between the two composers. The Brahms in Krása’s music is mediated by Schoenberg, whereas Gál takes his direct. Dance forms underpin the more energetic passages in both composers’ works, but in both cases the links with any actual folk tradition are tenuous.
Ensemble Epomeo does both composers a great service with their precise, lively and stylistically astute performances. The clarity in all the textures allows both men’s contrapuntal innovations to shine through. There is atmosphere here too (helped by the warm recorded sound) and the long movements of both Gál works are fabulously involving, with the ensemble leading the ear through the composers various arguments and corollaries.
Nobody is suggesting that any of this music is being rediscovered or saved from terminal neglect. In fact, both composers are well represented on disc, at least in terms of the number of commercial recordings each has to his name. But the quality of these performances may help to initiate a new era in the reception of their works, and especially of Gál’s. His Serenade definitely deserves a central place in the recital repertoire, even if it requires performances of this high standard to make its many qualities fully apparent.

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CD Review: MusicWeb International on Gal/Krasa String Trios

A new, five-star review for the Complete String Trios of Hans Gal and Hans Krasa from MusicWeb International, also available at Art Music Reviews here.

See also our earlier MusicWeb review from Steve Arloff, and Recording of the Month designation here.

“Sound quality is very good. In their debut recording, Ensemble Epomeo (named after an Ischian mountain) are thoroughly convincing from beginning to end. Their sense of ensemble is democratic, their attention to the score attentive and respectful, and their tone warm and welcoming. Expressively they are as much at home with the elegant, small-R romantic classicism of Gál as with the more semantically ambiguous colourings of Krása.”

 


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CD Review- American Record Guide on Gal/Krasa Complete String Trios

From the November/December issue of American Record Guide


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“Ensemble Epomeo play with finesse and sensitivity, nicely capturing Krasa’s manic grotesqueries as well as Gal’s elegance and tenderness.”

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

From the December, 2012 Issue of Gramophone Magazine

Critic’s Choice

“Ensemble Epomeo provide ravishing accounts of both Gal works, fully in sympathy with the idiom…  A splendid disc I cannot get enough of.”

 

 

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CD Review- RECORDING OF THE MONTH: MusicWeb International, Steve Arloff on Gal/Krasa Complete String Trios

A new review from the popular website MusicWeb-International for our debut CD from critic Steve Arloff. The disc has been selected by MusicWeb as a RECORDING OF THE MONTH for October, 2012.

The complete review follows below, but shouldn’t you go ahead and order the CD first?


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It seems that at last the star of Hans Gál is in the ascendant with symphonies (2;3;4), hisviolin concerto,cello concerto,cello works,violin and piano works,piano trios,piano duosand piano solo music (reviewreview), to name a few, being released in recent years. This is a vast improvement upon the situation that pertained only in 2001 when there were but three works by him that could be found on disc; today the total tops 40.

Born in Vienna of Hungarian Jewish extraction Gál not surprisingly left Germany where he had worked as Director of the Conservatory in Mainz after he was dismissed by the Nazis and his music was banned. First he returned to Vienna until Austria was annexed by Hitler in 1938 then he came to the UK though he had a hard time of it with a wife and two children and no immediate job. In May 1940 he was incarcerated due to the panicky atmosphere that pertained in Britain at the time, firstly in Huyton then in the internment camp in Douglas, Isle of Man. Though Gál was not classed as a category A alien all of whom were detained when war broke out, Churchill’s edict to “collar the lot” following the fall of France led to category B aliens and a large percentage of category C being arrested too, adding up to a total of over 27,000 internees. It is ironic that Jews who were the most obviously sympathetic to the Allies should have been included in this sweep. Eventually the folly of this policy was recognised and Gál and many others were released after a few months. For most of his long life he resided in Scotland where he added to the rich musical life there working at Edinburgh University until well beyond retirement age.

Gál’s Serenade in D Op.41 dates from 1932 and is a most delightful work full of free-flowing melodic lines with an upbeat Haydnesque beginning that belies what’s to come which is altogether more contrapuntal but still of a generally whimsical character and the first movement fairly skips along its ten minute length. Gál certainly knew how to write a good tune and wasn’t afraid to do so at a time when the avant-garde brigade were flexing their musical muscles and when to be experimental was deemed to be de rigueur. Though modern in character this music is totally beguiling and the main theme will easily become one of those little worms that play themselves over and over again in your mind and soon have you convinced that you’ve known it for years despite it being a world première recording. The second movement marked Cantabile. Adagio is a heartfelt, beautiful little tune that while darker is so gorgeously lush that it will still cause you to smile with delight. The main theme which is introduced by the violin is taken up at the close by the viola against a wonderfully rich background. The Menuetto is back to the Haydnesque style of the opening movement with the cello playing a significant role in conversation. The violin hovers above it in canon and one is tempted to speculate that Papa Haydn himself would have heartily approved of its inventive character. The final movement Alla marcia is another wonderfully melodious and brilliantly scintillating piece of writing. All kinds of clever musical devices propel things along and the work finishes with a flourish.

Gál’s Trio Op.104 was composed almost forty years later in 1971 to a commission from the London Viola d’Amore Society and the version here for a conventional trio was written at the same time. It is a work that is altogether darker in mood than theSerenadeas perhaps is to be expected from a composer of over 80 as opposed to one of 42. In any event it is another example of this highly individual and marvellous composer who appears never to have been at a loss to come up with fabulous tunes that win the listener over on first hearing. While the opening Tranquillo con moto in dark and deeply reflective the Presto is light and humorous. It dances along its short length and leads into the finale Tema con variazione with seven distinct sections. The players’ cellist Kenneth Woods wrote the notes. He has perfectly captured the essence of this last movement which, as he puts it, incorporates “recurring cycles of despair and hope, without Gál ever tipping his hand as to whether the work is likely to end in darkness or light”. He explains further that Gál’s solution is to “avoid a resolution entirely” by concluding with an Alla Marcia in humorous mode. This alludes to the fact that whatever happens, life marches on and “The cycle of tragedy and hope is eternal, the root of all human comedy…” What better way to look at life and to share that outlook with others in musical terms that are so unambiguous.

The two other works on this disc are by a composer from the same era, the same part of the world (central Europe), and the same Jewish heritage, who suffered the fate that Gál undoubtedly would have done had he not come to Britain when he did. Hans Krása was also sent to an internment camp and the insert in the CD shows a photo of each composer alongside their camps. However, Krása ended up in Terezin in the north of his native Czechoslovakia where he was active in the busy musical life that pertained there and like other composers confined there wrote several works in these inauspicious surroundings. Then in October 1944 he was moved to Auschwitz along with fellow composers Gideon Klein, Viktor Ullmann and Pavel Haas, where he was sent to the gas chambers just two days after his arrival. I find the thought of the deaths of these highly talented composers almost unbearable, particularly when I hear their music and imagine what other joys they would have brought to the world had they lived. Whilst rejoicing in the life of Hans Gál who lived to the age of 97 and whose music developed over a long and productive life it is heartrending to listen to the music of Krása who died at 45. Both works here were written in his final year. Krása, in common with his fellow composers in Terezin, refused to allow their Nazi captors to crush their spirit. These works are defiant responses to the madness that The Third Reich unleashed upon the world. In Tanec(dance) which title belies its content which is savage and biting, there are evocations of trains that contrast feelings of nostalgia with overt menace. I was reminded of Steve Reich’s Different  Trains and am pretty sure that Reich may well have drawn inspiration from this work for his own. There is so much said in such a short piece it is quite overwhelming. In Passacaglia and Fuga,  Krása’s last completed work, he expresses himself so profoundly it is enough to make you weep. Kenneth Woods’ excellent notes explain the musical structure perfectly which enables the listener to get so much more out of the music than they would without them. I’m not going to try to paraphrase or come up with my own interpretation which I couldn’t do in any case but will quote his summing up of the work as “…discussion degenerates into argument and argument descends into violence.” Who can wonder at such musical thoughts when you are knowingly heading for extermination for being born something your captors will not tolerate.

The disc leaves you feeling profoundly moved as well as drained and I can hardly imagine how it must feel to play such music. This is an extremely important musical document on all counts as it introduces us to two hitherto unrecorded works by a great 20th century composer who exposure has at last revealed a huge talent and two works by a wonderful composer whose creative genius was snuffed out in his prime.

The Ensemble Epomeo play all four compositions with huge commitment and brilliant flair revealing every nuance in four wonderful works for string trio. These can sit alongside anything written in this genre.

In every way this is a fantastic disc that listeners will want to hear again and again.

Steve Arloff