Desirée Ruhstrat, Violin / Aurélien Fort Pederzoli, Viola / David Cunliffe, Cello

Desirée Ruhstrat, Violin / Aurélien Fort Pederzoli, Viola / David Cunliffe, Cello

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[..]Silenced Voices, a compelling collection of characterful music for string trio largely by eastern European victims of the Holocaust, played with fierce eloquence by Chicago’s Black Oak Ensemble and recorded so crisply that I could swear the musicians were sitting just by my right shoulder.” THE TIMES (13 September, 2019) - Geoff Brown

“ [..] Cast in a post-tonal idiom with the odd clear tonal reference point, its strength lies in the clarity of linear writing, something brought across beautifully by the Black Oak Ensemble. The more achingly lyrical gestures find a sudden, but surprisingly satisfying, resolution [..]It is unbearably poignant, its intensity perfectly prolonged by the Black Oak Ensemble.
Five stars: A fabulous disc that enables us to hear to these precious “silenced voices” in the very best light” Fanfare magazine, 5 stars - Colin Clarke

“ The three members of the Black Oak Ensemble [..] are ideal advocates for this music. [..] Thanks to such insightful, committed and masterful performances, those composers, though dead, are still speaking.” 10/10, Classics Today (July 2019)

“The music on this disc stimulates the mind and reminds us how music is a life affirming force. The Black Oak Ensemble performs it with verve and intelligence. It is a tribute to the dedication and persistence of the musicians who lost their lives” Audiophile Audition (August 2019), Robert Moon

“The Black Oak Ensemble members play all this music with intensity and involvement as well as technical skill, and the seriousness of purpose underlying the recording is apparent throughout. Such seriousness, common in anthology discs intended as tributes or recognition of one sort or another, does not always serve the music particularly well. Here, though, it does: all these pieces are fully deserving of rising at last above the obscurity in which most of them have languished since the untimely deaths of all but one of the composers represented here.” 4 Stars - Infodad (September 2019)


”[..] This breadth is expertly displayed by the cohesive group — Desiree Ruhstrat, violin; David Cunliffe, cello, and violist Aurelien Fort Pederzoli - [..]Throughout, the Black Oakers exhibit precise dynamic control and rhythmic elan.” (July 2019) Jay Harvey Upstage

“ The Black Oak Ensemble members play all this music with intensity and involvement as well as technical skill, and the seriousness of purpose underline the recording is apparent throughout.” Infodad (August 2019)

Silenced Voices includes the world premiere recording of wartime survivor Géza Frid’s early Trio à cordes, Op. 1, an inventive work infused with Hungarian folk music influences. Composer-cellist Paul Hermann’s Strijktrio, a forward-looking, cosmopolitan work from the early 1920s, shares its melodies among all three instruments. Dick Kattenburg’s youthful Trio à cordes was praised in a 1938 concert review for its “remarkable mastery and a very personal style.” Gideon Klein’s Trio for violin, viola and cello is notable for its treatment of a Moravian folk song that serves as the theme of its middle movement. Hans Krása’s Tánec (“Dance”) is a five-minute whirl of dancelike episodes framed by the sonic evocation of trains. His Passagalia is more somber, with its own train motifs, while its companion Fuga bears shades of Germanic and Czech influences and occasional grotesque touches. Sándor 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.”




Aurélien's mother, a history teacher, who comes from a Sephardic family has devoted her life to bringing awareness to the Holocaust.

One of her proudest endeavors was bringing students every year on a teaching voyage to Prague, Budapest, Krakow, Auschwitz, Treblinka, and Terezin.

In the spring of 2016, Desirée and David came back from Budapest, Hungary with some string trios they had found in a local shop, these pieces were among them. These works are fantastic works of art and, through their darkness, are incredibly human and ultimately uplifting.

That such music could be written in these conditions is a testament to the resilience and faith of these artists.

The ensemble is committed to sharing this music with the Chicago Community at large, in collaboration with not only Synagogues but also educational centers, and the rest of the world.

Our hope is for this project to speak for those who were so brutally silenced during the Pogroms, the Exiles and the Shoah. Ordinary people suffered, artists suffered, their voices needed to be heard.