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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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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