In 2003, three accomplished and enthusiastic chamber musicians came together to form the Absolut Trio. The ensemble has been playing in its current formation with Bettina Boller (violin), Judith Gerster (violoncello) and Stefka Perifanova (piano) since 2009.The artistic exploration of their own time is important to all three musicians and they regularly commission new works. Nineteen substantial works for piano trio (some with live electronics) have been created for them and integrated into richly-woven programmatic concepts, in addition to trouvailles and rarities that need to be brought to light. The trio has performed at venues such as the Art Center in Seoul, Wigmore Hall in London, Munich’s Gasteig, the Tonhalle in Zurich, WDR Cologne, and the ppIANISSIMO Festival in Sofia. The Absolut Trio’s first CD with works by A. Schönberg, R. Kelterborn and B.A. Zimmermann, released in 2007 with the cellist Imke Frank on the Guild label, was highly praised by the critics and received a Supersonic Award. Further CDs have been released on, for example, the Musique Suisse and Solo Musica labels. At the end of 2018, their latest CD with the complete piano trio oeuvre of Urs Peter Schneider was released to high acclaim.In 2018, the Absolut Trio was awarded the annual prize of the city of Zurich for their work to date.
Bettina Boller’s fame started in the internationally broadcast, prize-winning classical music videos commissioned by Swiss Television and directed by Adrian Marthaler in the 1990s, in which she always the featured soloist. She completed her training with Hans Ulrich Lehmann in Bern (teaching and soloist’s diploma with distinction). She also studied for a brief period in the class of Itzhak Perlman at Brooklyn College in New York. Her passion extends to a great variety of styles and musical activities. In addition to „classical“ music with the accent on the period ranging from the early twentieth century to the present day, she loves improvising and composing. She has, for example, written her own cadenzas to all the violin concertos by Haydn and Mozart and to Beethoven’s Violin Concerto, and has arranged J.S. Bach’s Partita in E major for two and three violins. She is involved with folk music from eastern Europe and Switzerland, and has arranged and composed incidental music as a violin-playing actress in projects with the director Volker Hesse and others. In addition, she conceives and realizes ideas for conveying music to children and youths and is a member of the ensemble of soloists at the Collegium Novum Zürich.
After obtaining her A levels, the cellist Judith Gerster initially began studying architecture, but the passion for chamber music that has dominated her love of music from childhood soon compelled her to study music.
She acquired her soloist’s diploma in the classes of Ivan Monighetti and Thomas Grossenbacher at the conservatories of Basel and Zurich. She found her studies with Walter Levin of the LaSalle Quartet very inspiring, and that experience led to her decision to pursue a career as a professional musician.
In addition to her intensive collaboration with the Absolut Trio, Judith Gerster is a member of the Basel Symphony Orchestra and the Ensemble Amaltea.
Selected projects on the Baroque cello and audition coaching enrich her everyday life.
She still loves the visual arts and architecture. She lives out a part of her artistic imagination by creating miniature collages in boxes with materials of all kinds and sizes.
The Bulgarian pianist Stefka Perifanova studied at the National Academy of Music in Sofia with Prof. Konstantin and Julia Ganev (a pupil of Heinrich Neuhaus) and assisted in their piano class for four years. In 1993 she received the Cyrillus and Methodius scholarship, which is highly prized in Bulgaria. That enabled her to study further in Switzerland with Rudolf Buchbinder (concert class), Gérard Wyss (chamber music and lieder accompaniment) and Bruno Canino (soloist’s diploma). Stefka Perifanova has won prizes at numerous competitions, including the Edward Tschumi Prize for the best soloist’s diploma of the year and first prize at the Concurso Internacional de Música Cidade do Porto. Over and above her solo appearances, she is much in demand as a chamber musician and lieder accompanist on international concert platforms and performs with partners like Sol Gabetta, Raphael Oleg, Hansheinz Schneeberger and Györgi Pauk. She is particularly interested in contemporary composing and has premiered numerous works. In addition to performing with the Absolut Trio, Stefka Perifanova is a member of the soloists‘ ensemble „camerata variabile basel“, adjudicates at piano competitions and often assists at master classes (for János Starker, Igor Oistrakh, Menahem Pressler, Bernard Greenhouse, among others). Stefka Perifanova has been lecturing at the Zurich College of Arts since 1999 and at the Basel College of Music since 2011.
Artistic involvement with contemporary music is of prime importance for the three musicians of the Absolut Trio, which is why they commission works at regular intervals. Eight weighty works for piano trio (some with live electronics) have come into being in that way and are integrated into the trio’s repertoire, just as rare finds and forgotten pieces are that round out richly evocative programmes. Among the venues at which the Trio has performed are the Art Center in Seoul, the Wigmore Hall in London, the Munich Gasteig, the Zurich Tonhalle, WDR Cologne and the ppIANISSIMO Festival in Sofia. The first CD of the Absolut Trio (still with the cellist Imke Frank), featuring works by Arnold Schoenberg, Rudolf Kelterborn and Bernd Alois Zimmermann, was released on the Guild label in 2007; it was praised most highly by the press and received a Supersonic award.