Amael Piano Trio
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Amael Piano Trio

Ljubljana, Ljubljana, Slovenia | Established. Jan 01, 2000 | INDIE

Ljubljana, Ljubljana, Slovenia | INDIE
Established on Jan, 2000
Band Classical Classical


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Amael Piano Trio @ Slovenian Philharmonic: Big Concert Hall (Marjan Kozina Hall)

Ljubljana, None, Slovenia

Ljubljana, None, Slovenia

Amael Piano Trio @ Artrix

Bromsgrove, England, United Kingdom

Bromsgrove, England, United Kingdom

Amael Piano Trio @ St Mary De Lode

Gloucester, Not Applicable, United Kingdom

Gloucester, Not Applicable, United Kingdom

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The members of the Amael Piano Trio have a large discography and numerous works composed for them. On this occasion they presented a fascinating selection of Slovenian music and a riveting interpretation of Beethoven’s ‘Archduke’.

Pride of place was accorded to Maestoso lugubre by one of the leading Slovenian composers, Lucijan Marija Skerjanc (1900-1973), a multi-talented musician – pianist, conductor, composer and head of the Ljubljana Academy of Music – who composed it when he was thirty-five, as the finale of a 45-minute work. The movement starts with a Hindemith-like fugue based on a widely contoured subject, introduced here with strident resonance by Damir Hamidulin. The work evolves a more opulent chromatic impressionism reminiscent of Delius, with crunchy piano chords overlaid by expansive, sustained melodies in octaves for strings. There is a funereal dotted-rhythm procession assigned to the piano at the mid-point, which Tatjana Ognjanovic projected with compelling character, highlighting the biting, ostinato-laden bittersweet flavour suggestive of Shostakovich. In the final section there are several passages of exquisite beauty which counter the general dour mood, but the ending is a darker procession for piano alone.

In a more experimental atonal idiom was Something Wild by Nenad First (born 1964), an intriguing work that Volodja Balzalorsky projected with stunning virtuosity and gripping energy. In the hands of this subtle yet communicative artist the violin came alive, with pointed pizzicato, incisive double-stopping and rapid passagework adding to the relentless excitement.

A more radical exploration of the piano trio emerged in Five Short Pieces by Milko Lazar (born 1965). Composed in 2001 for the Amael musicians, each of the movements is vividly contrasted and finely crafted, alert to a range of influences including minimalism, jazz harmonies and rock rhythms. The two slow movements, second and fourth, evoked poetic imagery in the spare use of tiny ostinato patterns and wisps of melody; in the second (‘Largo lamento’) an atmospheric texture of high violin and low piano chords frame an elegiac cello melody. The faster movements radiated energy and panache, with quick-fire repeated-note motifs and fizzing syncopations.

The concert concluded with a superb ‘Archduke’, full-blooded in tone yet also respectful of structural clarity. Magical colouring of modulations, highlighting of luminescent trilling, and fresh shades, lifted this performance above the usual. The fast tempo for the scherzo contributed to its lively imitative dialogues, and also the syncopations of the jocular finale. Yet the Variations of the third movement was the highpoint, a transcendent, calm flowing beauty of tone, the rhetoric involving and absorbing. The Amael Piano Trio was on top form and will be welcome in London again and often.

Reviewed by: Malcolm Miller - "The Classical Source": November 30, 2010

... The concert of Amael Piano Trio shall remain reasonably be remembered as a great artistic event of valuable guest artists from Slovenia... ...L.M. Skerjanc's Maestoso lugubre oppressed by the tragedy of this score, which requires balancing of pathos and restraint, was realized through a saturated, dark sound range, and deep sound conformation, which occurs only as a result of common breathing...

Playing in some parts of the "Nocturne" by Shubert on the very threshold of hearing, members of the trio Amael here demonstrated exceptional subtlety of mutual listening, like the kind of prompt with silence...

After only a brief introduction of the first paragraph, in which, after performing a solo piano, imperceptibly interfere section violin and cello, it was clear from how much restraint, lyricism and, why not, the nobility, the AmaelPiano Trio interpret Beethoven's music.

Reviewed by Ivana Komadina - "Radio Belgrade" October 25 2010

A top-notch ensemble, the Amael Piano Trio, was presented this weekend under the auspices of the Spectrum Chamber Music Society, with the support of the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Slovenia. In a program of 20th-century Slovenian music (first half) and Beethoven’s Piano Trio in B-flat, Op. 97, the “Archduke” (second half), they brought unity and vigor to both old and new.

The Amael Trio, based in Ljubljana, states in its biography (in addition to mentioning traditional repertoire) that it is “dedicated to performing contemporary works, and to the promotion, internationally, of Slovenian composers of piano trio literature.” They did an excellent job of just that in their Saturday evening program, and though only the pianist and violinist are natives of Slovenia (the cellist hailing from Russia), they represented Slovenia with honor. They might add to their biography that they also promote some non-trio works, as there was a violin solo included on their program; considering that each of the three players is of such strong individual ability, they might want to incorporate some solos or duos by the pianist and cellist as well. It would be a welcome addition.

The concert opened in an intensely dark vein with “Maestoso Lugubre” by Lucijan Marija Skerjanc (1900-1973). Composed in 1935, the work is actually the last movement of this composer’s Piano Trio, though Skerjanc himself suggested that it be performed as a single work. From the very first solo cello notes by Damir Hamidullin, a somber lyricism pervaded, deepened by each player’s entry. The synchronization was marvelous, particularly in the string doublings (which can so easily sound “off” but were never so). All three blended in a way that was rich and warm, but also translucent, like the sonic equivalent of amber. The pianist, Tatjana Ognjanovic, managed to be the perfect foundation and “glue” for the trio without any suggestion of dominance even with the Steinway lid up.

Violinist Volodja Balzalorsky came onstage next as soloist in “Something Wild” by Nenad First (b. 1964). Mr. First, though born in Zagreb, lives and works in Slovenia. “Something Wild” is pretty much what its title suggests, a rhapsodic, virtuoso violin showpiece with a rough, rustic streak (plenty of fifths) and dizzying speed (think Bartok meets Paganini). Seemingly fiendishly difficult in parts, it was the compulsory violin work in the 2005 International Johannes Brahms Competition. While I cannot profess to love the piece, it was an intriguing break from the trios and certainly an opportunity for Mr. Balzalorsky to shine.

The first half concluded with the trio performing “Five Short Pieces” by Milko Lazar (b. 1965). Dedicated to the trio in 2001, it is a work of great variety within concise, classically restrained movements, each contrasting with the last (arranged as fast, slow, fast, slow, fast). The performance was one of extreme precision, and it would be hard to imagine it being played more convincingly than it was by this tightly knit ensemble.

Beethoven’s “Archduke” Trio, a masterpiece that is reason enough to go to any concert, was given a fine, mostly polished performance for the evening’s close. Performers are unfortunately subject to the accumulated preferences of a listener when performing such an established masterpiece, and I felt it was slightly unsettled in parts. Occasionally it was a matter of simply needing more agogic placement of downbeats (as in the first movement’s initial move to G major, where a more settled metric feeling can enhance ensuing rhythmic surprises), but other times (as in the magnificent third movement) it seemed that the pursuit of momentum was undermining the overarching grandeur of the work. All in all, though, it was a fulfilling musical evening, and this is a superb ensemble, which I hope to hear again.

-Rorianne Schrade for New York Concert Review; New York, NY
- "New York Concert Review" November 13 2010

...perfect symbiosis of intellect and passion...
Radio Slovenia...
- Franc Kriznar

Pianist Tatjana Ognjanovic, violinist Volodja Balzalorsky and cellist Damir Hamidulin collaborate on an extremely high level of musical communication. These three excellent musicians, all of them masters of their instrument, amalgamate their respective expertise in a high-quality musical experience... in Brahms the sound displayed luxury, power and temperament, confirming the high technical level, the accomplished interpretation and the excellent musicianship of this leading Slovenian trio.
- by Jaksa Zlatar

This award-winning Slovenian group plays its renditions of 19th-century German and Russian luminaries with a masterful cross of red-blooded force and delicate restraint. It's that balance of vigor and vulnerability that distinguishes these works, this trio hits all the right notes.
- Editor's Review- June 2006

Amael Piano Trio is a very fine group. The stringplayer's intonation is impeccable, their tone is rich, beautiful and homogeneous and can vary from floating delicacy to vibrant full bodied sonorousness...
A large multi-national audience rewarded the performers with warm approval and prolonged ovations. - by Edith Eisler


The release of two LIVE CD's of Amael Piano Trio is planned in March-April 2011 by Cantabel label in Europe and by Eroica Classical recordings in USA: Live in Ljubljana, and Live from The Spectrum Festival.
Streaming Preview at:

CD of Tatjana Ognjanovic:
Ludwig van Beethoven - The last piano sonatas

CDs of Volodja Balzalorsky
New Releases by Cantabel Productions:

CD of Damir Hamidulin: Eroica release
Damir Hamidulin



The Amael Piano Trio has received oustanding international acclaim performing in New York, London, Rome, Belgrade, Bergen, San Marino, Munich and some other European cities.

In addition to the repertoire of classical music, the Trio Amael at all concerts promoted and performed a number of works by Slovenian composers.

More about Amael Piano Trio:
The Amael Piano Trio was founded by three very accomplished artists, who, individually, have backgrounds as prominent soloists and chamber musicians.
All three artists, the pianist, Tatjana Ognjanovic, the violinist, Volodja Balzalorsky and the cellist Damir Hamidullin, have performed internationally as guests of numerous music festivals and cycles, and as soloists with many orchestras. Individually, as well, they have also created multiple CD,s and have made extensive live and archival radio and TV recordings throughout Europe and in the USA and Asia.
The trio has 14 years of successful performances in a variety of venues, concert series, and festivals in Europe and in USA.

The Amael Trio has achieved the status of being among the most sought after chamber groups in Slovenia. In addition to performing known traditional trio literature from various style epochs, the trio is also dedicated to performing contemporary works, and to the promotion, internationally, of Slovenian composers of piano trio literature.

In the immediate future, they plan to schedule additional concert-tours and perform in many different countries, make several CDs, and expand their repertoire, exploring the works of lesser-known composers and performing new works created for piano trio. They also plan to commission and record new works; some renowned Slovenian and international composers have already decided to write especially for their trio.


Tatjana OgnjanoviÄ‥, one of Slovenia's leading pianists, has performed at International Music Festivals and given highly acclaimed recitals in 16 countries throughout Europe, as well as in Malaysia and Singapore. She has appeared as soloist with many orchestras, interpreting piano concertos by Mozart, Beethoven, Mendelssohn, Schumann, Rachmaninov, Scriabin, and Prokofiev.

She has made many CD, LP, radio and TV recordings, embracing a wide repertory of music from the baroque era to the contemporary. Her growing interest in chamber music has resulted in her collaboration with pianist Bojan Gorisek, and more recently, the increasingly acknowledged Trio Amael.

Tatjana Ognjanovic is a prize winner of national, as well as numerous international piano competitions such as the Cidade do Porto in Portugal (1991), Maria Callas in Athens, Greece (1992), Jose Iturbi in Valencia, Spain (1992), and Premio Jaen, also in Spain (1993).

In addition to her artistic performances, she has been teaching at the Academy of Music of the Ljubljana University since 1993.

Volodja Balzalorsky is an internationally acclaimed concert violinist who has performed in many international music festivals and concert series throughout Europe, and North America.

Recently he was awarded with several International Music Arards, such as: The Hollywood Music in Media Award 2009 - Best Classical, The Inland Empire Music Award Music Award 2008 - Best International ArtistThe Ontario Independent Music Award 2007 - Best International Artist, The Canary Island Music Award 2007- Best Interpretation, Julij Betetto Music Award 2006 and Nomination for The Los Angeles Music Award 2007- classical.


Cellist Damir Hamidullin is a virtuoso soloist and an excellent representative of the famous Russian cello schoolHe is first solo cellist of the National Opera House in Ljubljana (Slovenia) and a member of the Amael piano trio. 

He performs throughout Europe as a soloist, recitalist and chamber musician

He has played as a soloist many times with the Kazan Philharmonic and with other symphonic and chamber orchestras in Russia and in Slovenia. He plays all the famous concertos on his instrument: Haydn, Dvorak, Saint-Saens, Schumann, and Tchaikovsky.

He has also been guest artist at various international festivals - Festival Groblje and Festival of Contemporary Music Radenci in Slovenia, Festival of Contemporary Music Kishinjev in Moldavia, Festival of Kazan in Russia, etc.