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'Unheard', the newest cd of the Ebony Band is on sale!

On this cd you'll hear the strings of the Ebony Band (the Ebony Kwartet) with pieces from the interwar period; as far as we know, they were never released before on any kind of sound recording medium.The present cd provides a supplement to the incomplete history of the music of this period, and brings forgotten composers to life once again.

Previous to the official release, already three reviews appeared, two in Dutch papers, one in the Guardian (see below).


The Guardian, London, Aug.18, 2017

Like those of its parent ensemble, the Ebony Band, the members of the Ebony Quartet all have day jobs playing in the great Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra of Amsterdam. The declared mission of both groups is to revive forgotten music from the 1920s and 30s, and so it's no surprise to find that, of the six pieces in this collection - none of which have apparently appeared on disc before - only one is the work of a composer who is well known today, Josef Matthias Hauer, while two more are by Hans Walter Süsskind, who is remembered now as a conductor rather than a composer.

These were musicians who all had the course of their careers irretrievably shifted by the rise of the Nazis in the 1930s. Only Hauer, who had established his own compositional method of organising atonal music some years before Schoenberg's first 12-note pieces, continued to live in Vienna, though his music was branded as degenerate. The others all eventually found refuge in the US, though Erich Itor Kahn lived first in Paris, where his pupils included René Leibowitz, to whom he taught his version of Schoenberg's 12-note technique, and who in turn taught Pierre Boulez. Süsskind, who had established a considerable reputation as a pianist in his native Prague for his performances of Bartók, Hindemith and Schoenberg, emigrated in 1939 to the US, where Otto Jokl and Louis Gruenberg had also found refuge.

All the pieces the Ebony Quartet play could roughly be described as expressionist, with their chromaticism constantly flirting with atonality. Süsskind's melodrama Rechenschaft über Uns, delivering an agitprop text by Louis Fürnberg, contains occasional hints of the cabaret world of the Weimar Republic, while his Four Songs, to texts by Wilhelm Emanuel Süskind, adds quarter-tones to the harmonic mix. Kahn's Quartet Fragment, probably composed around 1924, is strikingly lyrical, and recalls the quartet writing of Zemlinsky more than anyone. The ghost of Berg's Lyric Suite seems to lurk behind parts of Jokl's Second Quartet, just as there are echoes of Janáček in Gruenberg's Four Indiscretions. All these pieces are played with tremendous commitment and finesse by the Ebony Quartet, who transmit their belief in its enduring quality in every bar.

Opus Klassiek :


De Volkskrant :

Ebony Kwartet grossiert in ongehoorde componistennamen

CD (klassiek) - Unheard


Door: Biëlla Luttmer 11 augustus 2017, 02:00


Jokl, Kahn, Hauer, Süsskind, Gruenberg - de cd Unheard van het Ebony Kwartet grossiert niet alleen in ongehoorde stukken, maar ook in ongehoorde componistennamen. Alle werken op het schijfje zijn ontstaan in de periode tussen de Eerste en de Tweede Wereldoorlog.

Het zijn persoonlijke getuigenissen die opvallend vaak klinken alsof ze zijn geschreven door iemand die in de spiegel kijkt en daarin een vreemde versie van zichzelf terugziet. Barbara Kozelj treft de sfeer in Süsskinds Vier Gesänge in het hart, en Daniel Reuss weet de teksten in Rechenschaft über uns, van dezelfde componist, eenvoudig maar des te aangrijpender te declameren: Dass wir sonderbar sind, daran zweifeln wir nicht/ Aber können wir anders sein?/ Sind wir nicht in dieser Zeit?