Avant l’orage: French String Trios 1926-1939 | Cedille Records CDR90000212

Avant l’orage: French String Trios 1926-1939


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Label: Cedille Records

Cat No: CDR90000212

Barcode: 0735131921220

Format: CD

Number of Discs: 2

Genre: Chamber

Release Date: 10th March 2023



Black Oak Ensemble, the Chicago-based string trio with an international following, treats listeners to a double-album of stylish and often witty French treasures written between the World Wars.

The ensemble offers seven rarely heard delicacies from the 1920s and 30s, including world-premiere recordings of trios by Henri Tomasi, Robert Casadesus, and Gustave Samazeuilh along with works by Jean Cras, Emile Goué, Jean Françaix, and Gabriel Pierné. Most were written for and dedicated to the virtuosic Trio Pasquier, which ranked among the era’s chamber music superstars.

Tomasi’s Mediterranean roots are heard in the Provençal folk melody referenced in his Trio à cordes en forme de divertissement, noted for its colourful, kaleidoscopic finale. Casadesus’s Trio à cordes combines fine craftsmanship and poetic sincerity. Samazeuilh, a disciple of Claude Debussy, wrote his Suite en trio in the form of a Baroque dance suite.

Celtic-infused folk music of his native Brittany emerges in Cras’s Trio pour violon, alto et violoncelle, as does an homage to Beethoven’s op.132 string quartet. Goué wrote his Trio pour violon, alto et violoncelle, energised with folk-dance elements, on the eve of his World War II army deployment. Françaix’s Trio displays his trademark textural clarity, agility, and sense of humour. Pierné’s Trois pièces en trio has even more fun with the listener with its satirical finale conjuring intoxicated, stumbling house cats out on the town.

Avant l’orage was recorded by the Grammy-winning team of producer James Ginsburg and engineer Bill Maylone.

Black Oak Ensemble, comprising violinist Desirée Ruhstrat, violist Aurélian Fort Pederzoli, and cellist David Cunliffe, made its recording debut in 2019 with Silenced Voices on Cedille Records. The album, featuring works by promising, early 20th-century European Jewish composers who perished in concentration camps and elsewhere in Nazi-occupied Europe, received a top rating from ClassicsToday, which praised Black Oak’s “insightful, committed, and masterful performances.” The Times of London applauded the ensemble’s “fierce eloquence.”

Ruhstrat and Cunliffe are also members of the twice-Grammy-nominated Lincoln Trio, with pianist Marta Aznavoorian. Pederzoli was a founding member of the groundbreaking, Grammy-nominated Spektral Quartet.

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