Chamber music is the ideal medium for composers with a knack for polyphony. Here we have a fascinating disc of string trios by two exact contemporaries who were among the victims of Hitler’s Germany. Hans Gál fled to Scotland and lived a long (if obscure) life, while the Czech Hans Krása was interned at Terezin and killed in Auschwitz in 1944. While their music differs in intensity, both men were skilled at writing counterpoint so all these works are full of interest.
Gál’s Serenade dates from 1932. Notable for its high spirits, it follows in the wake of similar trios by Beethoven and Dohnányi. The Trio of 1971 is understandably more autumnal in quality (apart from its Mendelssohnian Scherzo) and features a set of gentle, lyrical variations as its final movement.
Krása’s music was heavily influenced by the Second Viennese School and is made of tougher stuff. Tanec (or Dance) is a short work evoking the sound of trains, with a tender chorale in the middle section. In the powerful Passacaglia and Fugue, the underlying emotional impetus stretches these highly structured forms almost to breaking point in Krása’s final composition.
The performances by the Ensemble Epomeo are beyond praise: lively, warm-toned and well balanced in excellent sound. Cellist Kenneth Woods penned the informative sleeve note. Genuine buried treasure here.