City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

Hans Gál Society Annual Gala Concert Review


By Barnaby Miln - Posted on 17 April 2012

4
Hans Gal
Show Details
Venue: 
Canongate Kirk
Company: 
Hans Gál Society
Production: 
Bach (arr Sitkovetsky), Goldberg Variations (selection); Hans Gál, Trio in F-sharp minor, opus 104; Hans Gál, Serenade in D major, opus 41;  Beethoven, Serenade in E-flat major.
Performers: 
Ensemble Epomeo: Caroline Chin (violin), David Yang (viola), Kenneth Woods (cello).
Running time: 
150mins

Hans Gál was born near Vienna in 1890 and, as a respected composer, became Director of Mainz Conservatoire in Germany in 1929. With the accession of Hitler in 1933 he was dismissed and all his works prohibited. He and his family returned to Vienna but when Austria was annexed by the Third Reich in 1938 they fled to Britain.

After the Second World War he joined Edinburgh University’s Music Department and was one of the founders of the Edinburgh Festival. He died in Edinburgh in 1987.

The concert followed a meeting of the Hans Gál Society which exists to promote Gál’s work and by way of introduction we were told of progress in the last five or six years with the availability of twenty-two recordings and two of Gál’s own performances. Some were available on a table within Canongate Kirk.

The trio invited to play was the Ensemble Epomeo from North America which was formed in 2008 and has made a point of specialising in Gál’s work. In the past two years they have performed both his string trios, and they have just recorded them for Avie Records.  This interestingly was the first time both were played in the same concert.

Hans Gál's string trios come from opposite ends of his long career. His virtuosic, witty and tuneful Serenade, opus 41, was written at the peak of his early career in 1932 while teaching at the Mainz Conservatory.

His Trio in F-sharp minor, opus 104, composed in Edinburgh in 1972 is one of his last chamber works written during Gál’s last great autumnal burst on energy that also produced his Triptych, the Fourth Symphony and the final quartets and quintets.

Also on the programme were excerpts from Dmitri Sitkovetsky's arrangement of the Goldberg Variations and Beethoven's Serenade for String Trio in E-flat major, opus 3.

It was a great advantage for the audience to have the cellist Kenneth Woods give an introduction to each of the afternoon’s works, and the few words about the bright sunshine pouring in and affecting the tuning from the violist David Yang were amusing. His viola was once owned by Joseph Joachim, the great violinist to whom Brahms dedicated his violin concerto.

Event: Sunday 15 April 2012, 4pm