Hans Gál & Hans Krása: Complete String Trios Ensemble Epomeo (Avie)
Avie have already successfully exhumed the four symphonies by the Austrian émigré Hans Gál, who pitched up in Edinburgh in the 1940s and enjoyed a long academic career. His early Serenade in D for string trio epitomises his early style – breezy, neoclassical and full of busy counterpoint which never sounds too studied or pedantic. This is supremely approachable, engaging music, and sweetly played here – every chromatic kink handled with deft skill. Best is the closing Alla Marcia, dazzling in terms of its technical facility, and, evidently, very enjoyable to play. The Serenade is paired with Gál’s 1971 Trio in F sharp minor, a darker, brooding work originally featuring the viola d’amore – though a standard viola is heard here. Gál’s opening movement seems to hark back to fin-de-siecle Vienna, and the mood of bittersweet melancholy is neatly sidestepped in the trio’s closing minutes. Cellist Kenneth Woods describes Gál as the Viennese classical tradition’s “last, modest master” and it’s hard not to agree.
Also on the disc are several works by the Czech composer Hans Krása. He died inAuschwitz in 1944, having spent two years interned in the Theresienstadt ghetto – where the short Tanec and Passacaglia and Fuga for string trio were composed. This makes listening to both of these brilliantly communicative pieces an uneasy experience, each one a masterly exercise in musical doublespeak. I won’t attempt to describe them – buy this disc and experience them for yourself. Eloquent performances in glowing sound.