June 24, 2019―Black Oak Ensemble makes its recording debut with Silenced Voices, an album of string trios by six promising, early 20th-century Jewish composers originally from Austria-Hungary, Czechoslovakia, and the Netherlands. One survived World War II as a member of the Dutch resistance, while the others perished in concentration camps and elsewhere in Nazi-occupied Europe.
Silenced Voices, to be released by Cedille Records on July 12, includes Dick Kattenburg’s Trio à cordes; Sándor Kuti’s Serenade for String Trio; Hans Krása’s Passacaglia & Fuga and Tánec for string trio; Gideon Klein’s Trio for violin, viola and cello; Paul Hermann’s Strijktrio; and the world-premiere recording of wartime survivor Géza Frid’s Trio à cordes, Op. 1. Pre-orders are available here.
Black Oak Ensemble comprises Swiss-American violinist Desirée Ruhstrat and British-born cellist David Cunliffe―both of whom are founding members of the Grammy-nominated Lincoln Trio―as well as French-born violist Aurélien Fort Pederzoli, a founding member of the groundbreaking, Grammy-nominated Spektral Quartet.
Silenced Voices was inspired, in part, by the educational efforts of Mr. Pederzoli’s mother, Catherine Pederzoli-Ventura, a history teacher of Sephardic Jewish descent who led annual student field trips to locations such as Prague, Budapest, Auschwitz, Treblinka, and Terezin. Ms. Ruhstrat and Mr. Cunliffe discovered the Kuti, Krása, and Klein trios in a Budapest bookstore while on a European cultural tour with supporters of Chicago’s Ravinia Festival. Further research revealed the common thread of tragedy in each composer’s wartime experience. Those works became the nucleus of Black Oak Ensemble’s Silenced Voices project, a title suggested by Ms. Pederzoli-Ventura.
In the recording’s booklet notes, Robert Elias of the Orel Foundation, provides insight on each work. Kattenburg’s youthful Trio à cordes was praised in a 1938 concert review for its “remarkable mastery and a very personal style.” Kuti’s Serenade for String Trio brims with Hungarian folk music and piquant chord clusters. His Franz Liszt Academy classmate, conductor Sir Georg Solti, later proclaimed that Kuti “would have become one of Hungary’s greatest composers.” Krása wrote his Passacaglia & Fuga and Tánec (Dance) in the Theresienstadt concentration camp during the final year of his life. The Passacaglia is a somber work with ominous-sounding train motifs. The Fuga bears shades of Germanic and Czech influences and occasional grotesque touches. In Tánec, an aural depiction of approaching and departing trains frames a whirl of dancelike episodes. Klein’s Trio is notable for its treatment of a Moravian folk song that serves as the theme of its middle movement. Composer-cellist Hermann’s Strijktrio, a forward-looking, cosmopolitan work from the early 1920s, shares its melodies among all three instruments. Frid’s early Trio à cordes is an inventive work infused with Hungarian folk influences.
Black Oak Ensemble discusses their new album, “Silenced Voices”
Black Oak Ensemble
Praised for its “flamboyant vitality” and “expert performances” (Chicago Tribune), the Black Oak Ensemble, founded in 2015, has attracted an international following. Its 2019 concert schedule includes performances in France, including Paris, Lyon, and other destinations; Geneva, Switzerland; Athens, Greece; and Terezin in the Czech Republic, as well as U.S. concert dates in Illinois, Washington, Wisconsin, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The ensemble’s repertoire ranges from Baroque to new music. They recently premiered commissions from composers Michael Nyman, David Ludwig, and Conrad Tao. The string trio serves as ensemble-in-residence at the New Music School in Chicago. The ensemble is named for the black oak, a tree native to its home state of Illinois.
Silenced Voices was recorded by Grammy-nominated producer James Ginsburg and multiple Grammy-nominated engineer Bill Maylone on July 30–31 and September 18–19, 2018, in Mary B. Galvin Recital Hall at Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois.
Launched in November 1989, Grammy Award-winning Cedille Records (pronounced say-DEE) is dedicated to showcasing and promoting the most noteworthy classical artists in and from the Chicago area. The audiophile-oriented label releases every new album in multiple formats: physical CD; 96 kHz, 24-bit, studio-quality FLAC download; and 320 Kbps MP3 download. An independent nonprofit enterprise, Cedille Records is the label of Cedille Chicago, NFP. Cedille Records is distributed in the Western Hemisphere by Naxos of America and its distribution partners, by Select Music in the U.K., and by other independent distributors in the Naxos network in classical music markets around the world.
Cedille Records CDR 90000 189
Black Oak Ensemble
Desirée Ruhstrat, violin
Aurélien Fort Pederzoli, viola
David Cunliffe, cello
Dick Kattenburg (1919–1944)
1. Trio à cordes (4:50)
Sándor Kuti (1908-1945)
Serenade for String Trio
2. I. Allegro giocoso (4:12)
3. II. Scherzando (1:54)
4. III. Adagio ma non troppo (4:05)
Hans Krása (1899–1944)
Passacaglia & Fuga for String Trio
5. Passacaglia (6:09)
6. Fuga (2:41)
7. Tánec for String Trio (5:09)
Gideon Klein (1919–1945)
Trio for violin, viola, and cello (13:21)
8. I. Allegro (2:31)
9. II. Lento (7:52)
10. III. Molto vivace (2:50)
Paul Hermann (b. 1902–1944)
11. Strijktrio (7:48)
Géza Frid (1904–1989)
Trio à cordes, Op. 1 (16:04) (world premiere recording)
12. I. Allegretto (5:15)
13. II. Andante cantabile (5:02)
14. III. Allegro giocoso all’ungherese (5:43)