The Arts Fuse on Ensemble Epomeo

A rave from critic Jonathan Blumhofer at the Arts Fuse for ABMC artists Ensemble Epomeo’s new album on Avie Records:

 

Epomeo Schnittke SquareThe string trio, the sad sister of string chamber music genres, had a pretty good 20th century, at least in the hands of Eastern European composers. Or so one might conclude after hearing Ensemble Epomeo’s outstanding new album from Avie Records.

Its highlight is, without a doubt, Alfred Schnittke’s awesome, powerful Trio. I’ve often found Schnittke a frustrating composer: he tends to ramble and embrace dissonance as an end in itself rather than a means to an expressive goal. But in this 1985 score, the music’s tragic power is focused and concentrated. Not a crunching chord is out of place. And there’s plenty of soaring melodic writing, too. In sum, it’s a winner and gets an appropriately fiery performance from Ensemble Epomeo. György Kurtág’s Signs, Games, and Messages also comes across strongly, its richly acerbic harmonic language packing a mighty punch.

Mieczyslaw Weinberg’s and Krzysztof Penderecki’s respective String Trios complete the album and, while neither possesses the fearsome immediacy of the Schnittke, they complement its shadows with various shadings of light.

There are moments when Ensemble Epomeo’s playing sounds downright orchestral – I could have sworn there were more than three players at work at several points in the Kurtág – but is always engaged with the spirit of each piece. Avie’s recorded sound quality is excellent and the album’s substantial liner notes are deeply informative. In short, this is a can’t-miss disc that heralds an ensemble to watch.

The Strad on Ensemble Epomeo- Schnittke, Weinberg, Kurtág and Penderecki String Trios

A new review of the latest Avie Records CD from Ensemble Epomeo published on the 6th of January in The Strad magazine.

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Ensemble Epomeo

 

ABMC are organizing US, UK and Canadian tours for Ensemble Epomeo in 2015-16 and 2016-17. In May and June, 2016, Ensemble Epomeo return to the prestigious Scotia Festival of Music as Ensemble in Residence. Contact us for booking availability and suggested programmes.

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“For its second disc – generously filled, and rewardingly programmed – string trio Ensemble Epomeo focuses on music composed in Eastern Europe and Russia in the late 20th century, playing with a remarkable intensity and elegant assurance throughout.

The threesome’s Schnittke String Trio bristles with detail – there are finely balanced chords moving from glowing diatonicism to harsh dissonance, and carefully shaped melodies with beautifully expressive vibrato – yet they never lose sight of the work’s broader architecture, nor of its poignant, increasingly bleak mood. Penderecki’s String Trio gives the players the chance to shine individually in vividly dispatched cadenzas – David Yang on viola is lithe and expressive, cellist Kenneth Woods nimble and mischievous, and violinist Diane Pascal forcefully assertive – and there’s a persuasive rhythmic drive to their propulsive closing movement.

They expertly summon vivid sound images for a selection of miniatures from Kurtág’s Signs, Games and Messages, and there’s abundant lyricism in their Weinberg String Trio, not least in Woods’s gracefully phrased opening cello line….Recorded sound..is warm and resonant.”

 

RTWTH