Eroica Trio – Plays Gershwin, Ravel, Godard & Schoenfield (1997)

FrontCover1The Eroica Trio is an American piano trio consisting of Erika Nickrenz, piano; Sara Parkins, violin; and Sara Sant’Ambrogio, cello.

The trio take their name from Beethoven’s Eroica Symphony. They have toured and recorded widely, and released six recordings for Angel/EMI Classics Records, garnering multiple Grammy Award nominations.

The founding members of the trio were Nickrenz, Sant’Ambrogio, and Adela Peña. They were all trained at the Juilliard School. In addition to being accomplished musicians, the Eroica Trio have attracted attention in the chamber music world from some as physically attractive, stylishly dressed women.

The trio took first prize in the prestigious Walter W. Naumburg Chamber Music Competition in 1991. Their first compact disc recording Eroica Trio won National Public Radio’s 1997 Performance Today Award for “Debut Recording of the Year.”

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In addition to touring with a varied piano trio repertoire, the Eroica Trio often appear in concert with major orchestras performing the Beethoven Triple Concerto.

The Eroica Trio commissioned a triple concerto by American composer Kevin Kaska. It was premiered by the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra in November 2001. They have also commissioned several works from American composer Bruce Wolosoff, including “The Loom,” inspired by the watercolors of Eric Fischl; that work was released on the Montage Music Society’s album Creating Music Inspired by Visual Art. (wikipedia)

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Among the best-known piano trios, the Eroica Trio is also one of the most successful all-women chamber ensembles in the world. Winners of the 1991 Walter W. Naumburg Chamber Music Competition, the ensemble went on to a successful debut at Lincoln Center and several tours of the United States, Europe, and Asia. The trio quickly gained a reputation for passion and excitement in its performances and for innovative programs.

Pianist Erika Nickrenz, who began playing piano at age six and performed her first concerto at 11, has received the Rockefeller Award and has been featured in the PBS series Live from Lincoln Center.

Australian violinist Susie Park, who replaced founding member Adela Peña in 2006, has won top honors in the Indianapolis, Menuhin, and Wieniawski International Violin Competitions, and has appeared as soloist with the Indianapolis Symphony, as well as with the Korean KBS Orchestra and orchestras in Sydney and Melbourne. Cellist Sara Sant’Ambrogio has won many international competitions and received a medal at the International Tchaikovsky Violoncello Competition. She has toured extensively as a soloist and played with orchestras in Atlanta, Boston, Dallas, St. Louis, Moscow, and Izmir. She has released several solo CDs and joined in crossover performances with Rufus Wainwright, VAST, Angela McCluskey, and hip-hop artist Beatrice.

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The group took its name from Ludwig van Beethoven’s Symphony No. 3 in E flat major, “Eroica.” It is one of the most active piano trios in the field of orchestral performance, and plays more concerts of Beethoven’s Triple Concerto than any other trio. It commissioned a triple concerto from composer Kevin Kaska, which was premiered in 2001 with the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra. The Eroica Trio also premiered Tango for Seven by Raimundo Penaforte, composed for an innovative combination of string trio plus string quartet, and which was premiered with the St. Lawrence String Quartet.

Recording for Angel/EMI Classics, the Eroica Trio’s repertoire has included the music of Maurice Ravel, Sergey Rachmaninov, Dmitry Shostakovich, and Antonin Dvorák, as well as lighter fare by George Gershwin, Leonard Bernstein, Astor Piazzolla, and Mark O’Connor. (by Rovi Staff)

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And here´s their first album:

One of the most sought-after trios in the world, the Eroica Trio thrills audiences with flawless technical virtuosity, irresistible enthusiasm and sensual elegance. Whether playing the great standards of the piano trio repertoire or daring contemporary works, the three young women who make up this celebrated ensemble electrify the concert stage with their passionate performances. The Trio’s self-titled debut CD, which features works by Ravel, Benjamin Godard, a commissioned arrangement of the Gershwin Preludes, and Paul Schoenfield’s Café Music, was awarded NPR Performance Today’s “Debut Recording of the Year” and featured in Time Out New York’s “Top Ten Recordings” of 1997. (press release)

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A first-rate debut album that lightens the mood of chamber music
The wisdom of crowds can do a belly flop sometimes, and it’s happened here with the lead review, which has incited a pile-up of negative votes against the Eroica Trio’s debut album. I hope prospective buyers won’t be misled. This is a beautifully played program caught in perfect sound. The program is winning and at times playful. EMI’s PR approach was aimed at finding a younger audience for chamber music, clearly. With three pretty young graduates of Juilliard to publicize, they struck a blow against the shriveled prune image that emanates fro, say, the Beaux Arts Trio.

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The Eroica Trio doesn’t just look young; they play young. The fluffy arrangement of Gershwin’s Three Preludes actually swings, and throughout there’s an air of energy and exuberance. The group was founded in 1991, six years before their debut album was released, and they had won the prestigious Naumburg Award. Almost everything I’ve heard from them rises to a very high level of musicianship. I especially admire the pianist, Eriak Nickrenz. the best piano trios are led by a pianist with a strong personality, and she has one, particularly in their excellent CD of the first two Brahms piano trios – I’d rank it among the two or three best I’ve ever heard.

Personal taste can’t be argued against, but the two-star review’s complaints are pure fantasy. The ERoica play slow music as well as they play fast music. The main item here, the Ravel Trio, is flawless. The Jazzy Cafe Music by Paul Schoenfield, an expert at tongue-in-cheek, brings a smile. If anything on this album is less than first-rate, I can’t hear it. (by Huntley Dent)

In other words: An awesome trio:

Recorded at the St. Stephen’s Church, Tiburon, California, July 4 – 8, 1997

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Personnel:
Sara Sant’Ambrogio (cello)
Erika Nickrenz (piano)
Adela Peña (violin)

Alternate front+backcover:
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Tracklist:

George Gershwin: Three Preludes
01. Prelude I 4.38
02. Prelude II 7.50
03. Prelude III 1.57

Maurice Ravel: Piano Trio
04. Modéré 10.17
05. Pantoum 4.14
06. Passacaille: Très Large 9.32
07. Finale: Animé 5.22

Benjamin Godard:
08. Berceuse 5.51

Paul Schoenfiel: Café Music
09. Allegro 5.52
10. Andante Moderato: Rubato 6.10
11. Presto 4.30

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The official website:
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