Since its „official“ debut during the Salzburg Mozart Week (January 1994), the Altenberg Trio Wien – one of the few full-time piano trios in the world of chamber music – has in far more than 1000 performances earned the reputation of one of the most daring and consistent ensembles in this category: its repertory comprises – in addition to a large number of works from directly related fields (piano quartets & quintets, duos, triple concertos, vocal chamber music) near to 300 piano trios, among them many pieces which the Altenberg Trio suggested and first performed itself.
Simultaneously with its foundation, the ensemble became trio in residence of Vienna´s Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde, annually performing a cycle in the Brahms Saal of Musikverein, and of Konservatorium Wien Privatuniversität where it runs courses in chamber music. Its regular activities also include artistic directorship of the music festival at Schloss Weinzierl, that place so important in music history, where the young Haydn composed his first string quartets; for a decade and a half before that, the ensemble was in charge of the International Brahms Festival Mürzzuschlag, whose artistic director was Claus Christian Schuster.
At the conferral of the Robert Schumann Award of the City of Zwickau in 1999, the Altenberg Trio succeeded in continuing the “Austrian” tradition of this award (winner 1997: Nikolaus Harnoncourt, winner 2002: Alfred Brendel); the immediate reason for its success was the recording of all Schumann piano trios which had just been released. The Altenberg Trio´s subsequent recording (Ives/Copland/Bernstein) in April 2000 won the Edison Award in Amsterdam. The CD (2008) with the piano trios of the Polish composers Artur Malawski and Krzystof Meyer was awarded the “Pasticcio Prize” by Ö1, the Austrian classical radio station.
The CD “Voices of Freedom” was the result of a cooperative effort with the Austrian Federal Ministry for European and International Affairs and its initiative “1989-2009 Divided-United”. It includes trio pieces from Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, and Austria composed during that period as well as poems from these countries read in their original languages.
The Altenberg Trio´s last cycles at Musikverein were particularly highly acclaimed, as for instance the cycle of the 2007/08 season “Genius and Its Shadow”, which confronted Ludwig van Beethoven’s trio works with those of his contemporaries. In 2008/09 and 2009/10 on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the trio cycle at the Wiener Musikverein, the ensemble presented a variegated cross section of piano trios from the last two decades in addition to works by Joseph Haydn and Antonin Dvorak. The cycle of 2010/11 will focus on Paris and the miracle of “Ars gallica”, powerfully reemerging at the very point of its worst political humiliation in 1871. A festival concert on the occasion of the 125th birthday of Schönberg’s pupil Egon Wellesz, the major human bridge between the musical worlds of Paris and Vienna, will open this journey to France.
In April 2007 at the Wiener Musikverein the ensemble performed Friedrich Cerha’s piano trio
(2005), which he had dedicated to them, for the first time and proceeded to do likewise in Greece, Croatia, Slovenia, Ireland, and Switzerland.
In 2009 the Altenberg Trio accepted an invitation to Gidon Kremer´s Chamber Music Festival at Lockenhaus for the first time, and in February 2010 it performed for the first time at Washington’s Library of Congress during its annual concert tour to the USA.
At the beginning of June 2011, the third Weinzierl Music Festival will take place under the auspices of the Altenberg Trio, but for the first time in the festival hall of the Schloss where young Joseph Haydn composed and participated in the first string quartets some 255 years ago. Schloss Weinzierl, its careful renovation completed by May 2011, will then be resonating with the sounds of its most important guest again.
Amiram Ganz plays a violin by Goffredo Cappa (Saluzzo 1686), Alexander Gebert a cello by Frank Ravatin (Vannes 2005)