"The result is a uniquely special treat", Fanfare 2022
"This a brilliant set, made all the greater in that it contains exclusively all-but-unknown music.
The Black Oak Ensemble [..] have outdone themselves here." © 2022 American Record Guide
"Every now and then a CD comes along of such stunning quality that it almost leaves you speechless. Such is the case with Avant l’orage – French String Trios 1926–1939, a 2CD set priced as a single disc, featuring seven beautifully crafted works, mostly by composers who aren’t household names, in simply superb performances by the Chicago-based Black Oak Ensemble" Limelight 2022
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 colorful, kaleidoscopic finale. Casadesus’s Trio à cordes combines fine craftsmanship and poetic sincerity. Samazeuilh, a disciple of Claude Debussy, wrote his Suite en trioin 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, energized 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 humor. Pierné’s Trois pièces en trio has even more fun with the listener with its satirical finale conjuring intoxicated, stumbling “fat cats” (actually an ironic reference to clerics/priests) out on the town.