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OUT NOW | Black Oak Ensemble Revives 20th-Century French String Trios 

Released on Cedille Records, the Chicago-based string trio performs works by Tomasi, Casadesus, Cras, Goué, and Samazeuilh, among others


The Black Oak Ensemble comprises GRAMMY-nominated violinist Desirée Ruhstrat, cellist David Cunliffe of the acclaimed Lincoln Trio, and violist Aurélien Fort Pederzoli, a founding member of the GRAMMY-nominated Spektral Quartet. 

Their new two-disc album titled “Avant l’orage (Before The Storm): French String Trios 1926–1939,” features rarely heard works written for violin, viola, and cello, during the 20th century and between the two world wars. 

The album includes world-premiere recordings of Henri Tomasi’s Trio à cordes en forme de divertissement, Robert Casadesus’s Trio à cordes, and Gustave Samazeuilh’s Suite en trio pour violon, alto et violoncelle

Additionally, Jean Cras’s Trio pour violon, alto et violoncelle; Émile Goué’s Trio pour violon, alto et violoncelle; Jean Françaix’s Trio; and Gabriel Pierné’s Troi pièces en trio, are also featured.

"It has been an interesting and musically fulfilling journey during the pandemic for us to discover and record these incredible works for the “little guy“ of chamber music: the String Trio," violinist Desirée Ruhstrat said. "We are uncovering more and more great repertoire and we hope the pieces featured on Avant L’orage will be a welcome addition to this fantastic string genre that we are championing."

Five of the works, including the three premiere recordings, were written for the highly virtuosic Trio Pasquier — a renowned ensemble of French brothers who ranked among the era’s top chamber music groups and was second only to the Budapest String Quartet.    

Produced and engineered by the GRAMMY-Award winning team, James Ginsburg and Bill Maylone, this album marks Black Oak Ensemble’s second and latest with Chicago’s Cedille Records and its release coincides with the French national holiday, Bastille Day on July 14. 

The album was recorded across various days between June 2021 to January 2022 at the Music Institute of Chicago’s Nichols Concert Hall and Illinois’ North Shore Congregation Israel

To listen to and purchase the album, click here. To celebrate the album’s release, the ensemble will perform at Chicago’s Epiphany Center for the Arts on July 17, 2022. Tickets for the event can be found here.



Named for the black oak, a tree native to its home state of Illinois, the Black Oak Ensemble has featured on BBC Radio 3, as well as featured live by The Violin Channel and Sirius XM.

Black Oak performs regularly on international stages and has held residencies at Eau Claire University, Arizona State University, Chicago’s New Music School, and has collaborated with Evanston Young Artists and the El Sistema program, among others.

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