ClassicsToday.com, July 2019
Artistic Quality: 10
Sound Quality: 10
…The three members of Black Oak Ensemble—Desirée Ruhstrat (violin); David Cunliffe (cello); Aurélien Fort Pederzoli (viola)—are ideal advocates for this music, a threesome that often sounds like six, or like one, and makes the most of melody and makes magic of irregular rhythm and phrasing, of beautiful lines and jazzy utterances, reveling in the gritty groan of bows digging into strings, and finding the joy in rich harmony and an occasional raucous dance. Thanks to such insightful, committed, and masterful performances, those composers, though dead, are still speaking. © 2019 ClassicsToday.com Read complete review
Strings Magazine, April 2020
Forgotten no more: A life-affirming collection of string trios that resonates through the ages
The Chicago-based Black Oak Ensemble—violinist Desirée Ruhstrat, violist Aurélien Fort Pederzoli, and cellist David Cunliffe—is the project-based string trio responsible for this alluring recording (Ruhstrat and Cunliffe also are members of the Grammy-nominated Lincoln Trio). The Chicago Tribune has praised the ensemble for its “flamboyant vitality,” and the Black Oak deftly embraces the melodies and breathes life into these stunning, and sadly largely forgotten, string works. © 2020 Strings Magazine Read complete review
American Record Guide, January 2020
This is an extraordinary collection of trios for violin, viola, and cello, by composers who suffered in the Holocaust.
The Hague plays with intensity and takes some tempos faster, but the record suffers from a muddy sound. The sound of the Chicago-based Black Oak Ensemble is crisper. The trio plays with confidence and feeling, tackling the thorny corners of these pieces with aplomb. This is the definitive recording of these works. Did I mention that this is the ensemble’s debut recording? The violinist and cellist played in the Grammy-nominated Lincoln Trio. These are seasoned players doing incredible work. © 2020 American Record Guide Read complete review on American Record Guide
The Strad, December 2019
There is no faulting this debut album by the Chicago-based Black Oak Ensemble: rhythmically tight and, like the best trio recording, conveying a sense of a fuller ensemble. © 2019 The Strad
Limelight, November 2019
Revelations in store as voices are silenced no more.
Beyond its exceptional musical ability, the Black Oak Ensemble must be applauded for its decision to dedicate its resources and talent to the presentation of fine music by composers who had their own talents stolen. © 2019 Limelight Read complete review
The WholeNote, November 2019
The marvellous and diverse music contained on this disc gives a glimpse of just how much culture was lost through the tragedy of the Holocaust, and the thoughtful and thorough booklet notes by OREL Foundation scholar Robert Elias provide context.
The project-based Black Oak Ensemble is comprised of Swiss-American violinist Desirée Ruhstrat, British-born cellist David Cunliffe and French-born violist Aurélien Fort Pederzoli. Silenced Voices was inspired, in part, by Pederzoli’s mother, a history teacher of Sephardic descent who led annual student trips to Auschwitz, Treblinka and Terezin (Theresienstadt). © 2019 The WholeNote Read complete review
Fanfare, November 2019
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.
This is a fabulous disc that enables us to hear to these precious “silenced voices” in the very best light. © 2019 Fanfare Read complete review
Fanfare, November 2019
…I chose Silenced Voices from the Black Oak Ensemble on Cedille. … From the concision of David Kattenberg’s String Trio, through Sándor Kuti’s Serenade with its Hungarian folk debt, from the more familiar names of Gideon Klein and Hans Krása to the perhaps less familiar Pál Hermann and Géza Frid (the latter the one composer on the disc who made it into old age), this is a heartfelt, touching disc. © 2019 Fanfare Read complete review
Performing Arts Monterey Bay, October 2019
The Black Oak Ensemble consists of violin, viola and cello (with two of its members among the Grammy-nominated Lincoln Trio.) …The music is far more intense, often much darker, yet displaying remarkable excellence. … The performances match the intensity and power of the music itself. © 2019 Performing Arts Monterey Bay Read complete review
MusicWeb International, September 2019
This is a fine trio in three equal length movements with lively dance-like sections encasing a mysterious Andante cantabile. This, like the whole disc, is superbly recorded and the performance here totally and convincingly catches the work’s mood and language. © 2019 MusicWeb International Read complete review
The Times (London), September 2019
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. © 2019 The Times (London)
Audio Video Club of Atlanta, September 2019
The performers heard on this CD are the string trio, consisting of violinist Desirée Ruhstrat, violist Aurélien Fort Pederzoli, and cellist David Cunliffe that is at the heart of the Chicago-based Black Oak Ensemble. They get top-class tech support from producer James Ginsburg, engineer Bill Maylone, and editor Jeanne Velonis. © 2019 Audio Video Club of Atlanta Read complete review
AllMusic.com, September 2019
The music of the many composers who died in the Holocaust has received renewed attention from various angles, including that of whether the music they wrote prior to their incarceration and death has been unjustly neglected. This release from Chicago’s Black Oak Ensemble and Cedille label answers in a convincing affirmative.
The performances by the Black Oak Ensemble are rich and obviously well prepared, and the sound from a Northwestern University recital hall is unusually good for such venues. It is worth noting that the album’s producer is James Ginsburg, son of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. © 2019 AllMusic.com Read complete review
Audiophile Audition, August 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’s a tribute to the dedication and persistence of the musicians who lost their lives. © 2019 Audiophile Audition Read complete revie