Reviews

Classics Today
David Vernier, 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.


Limelight
Stephanie Eslake, 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.


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 recordings, conveying a sense of a fuller ensemble.


​Strings Magazine
Greg Cahill, 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.


Chicago Tribune
Howard Reich, December 2019

Best Classical Album of 2019

Exceptional … An indispensable recording.


American Record Guide
Nathan Faro, January 2020

This is an extraordinary collection of trios for violin, viola, and cello, by composers who suffered in the Holocaust. [Black Oak Ensemble] 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. 


Audiophile Audition
Robert Moon, 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.


Fanfare
Colin Clarke, November 2019

Fanfare Want List

This is a fabulous disc that enables us to hear to these precious “silenced voices” in the very best light.


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.