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)

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“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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About the author

American conductor, composer and cellist Kenneth Woods is Principal Conductor of the English Symphony Orchestra, Artistic Director of the Colorado MahlerFest and cellist of the string trio Ensemble Epomeo. He records for the Avie, Somm, Nimbus, Signum, MSR and Toccata labels.

Learn about Kenneth at www.kennethwoods.net

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