The Trondheim Concertos
2L 2L-172-SABD (2 discs)
Classical - Chamber
Joseph Meck (1690—1758): Violin Concerto in G major, Op. 1 No. 9, XM 141
Anonymous, ‘Sigr. Opfermand’: Violin Concerto in C minor, XM 49
Johan Henrich Berlin (1741—1807): Sonata a Cembalo, Violino è Violoncello, XM 3
Antonio Vivaldi (1678—1741): Violin Concerto in A major, RV 335 ‘The Cuckoo’, XM 140
Baroque Ensemble of the Trondheim Symphony Orchestra:
Sigurd Imsen, solo violin
Renata Kubala, violin
Cecilia Wåhlberg, violin
Verona Rapp, viola
Torleif Holm, cello
Fredrik Blikeng, violone
Thomas C. Boysen, lute and theorbo
Gunnhild Tønder, cembalo and organ
Christina Kobb, fortepiano
As the eighteenth century progressed, Trondheim experienced strong economic growth. The Great Nordic War was over, and merchants set about exporting timber, stockfish, and copper from the mines of Trøndelag. They maintained close contact with their networks in the main cities of Northern Europe, and Trondheim's luxury and extravagance characterised its social milieu. Thus, the latest fashions, literature and music from the Continent found their way to Trondheim.
This recording portrays a selection of contemporaneous music that is preserved in Trondheim. The manuscripts may be found in the Gunnerus Library's special collections and probably belonged to the town musician and polymath Johan Daniel Berlin (1714–87) and his circle of musicians. They provide a unique insight into how European instrumental music found fertile ground in one of Denmark–Norway's largest provincial towns in the decades preceding the union's dissolution in 1814.
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Review by Adrian Quanjer - July 20, 2023
In the good-very-old-days many if not all composers did not compose to innovate at all costs but to please. That was at least my conclusion listening to this latest 2L release. And all you need to pass it on to the listener are some fine players. This is in a nutshell what Morton Lindberg has done. The result: Another winner from a fruitful collaboration between 2L and musicians from the Norwegian town of Trondheim, whether they be the Trondheim Solistene or, in this case, the Baroque Ensemble of the Trondheim Symphony Orchestra.
With the exception of Vivaldi, most composers represented in this album are relatively or totally unknown. Interestingly, the music is not. These Baroque sounds give that comforting feeling of having heard it sometime before but you don’t know where. The reassuring power of recognition that reaches its zenith in Vivaldi’s ‘Cuckoo’, means just under an hour of balm for the soul so much needed in testing times.
Reading the accompanying booklet is also pure joy. Not because of the detailed information about the scores, drawn from Norway’s oldest scientific library The Gunnerus Library in Trondheim, but also because of the illustrative photos that make the listener almost a complicit part of the recording sessions.
Historically informed bands are legion. But some seem to be differently informed than others. In some quarters personal artistry looks more important than conveying the music. Allegro is played presto or, in some cases even prestissimo. These musicians draw my respect for their often-impeccable virtuosity. But if these bands play with a degree of attack that makes the listener nervous, they cross my red line.
How different is this new release. The members of the Baroque Ensemble of the Trondheim Symphony Orchestra do not try to show off; they are just darn good musicians, playing with deep respect for the music, the listener, and most probably enjoying themselves immensely in doing so.
The violin solo, Sigurd Imsen, according to his website, “one of few professional violinists in Norway who specialise in historical performance practices”, is for me a virtuoso who plays the baroque violin with a profound feeling for the intrinsic value of the concerti, without setting or showing himself apart from his fellow musicians. It is the essence of successful ‘ensemble’ playing and it thoroughly pleased me. In Vivaldi’s ‘Cuckoo’ Imsen is as good as the best you and I can think of.
In Berlin’s Sonata a Cembalo, Violino è Violoncello, two more soloists join him: Gunnhild Tønder, harpsichord and Torleif Holm, cello, though together remaining part of the ensemble’s musical fabric. A perfect symbiosis between soloists and supporting players.
Americans may call it awesome, but whatever superlative one may want to use, these musicians have impressed me more than anything else I have as of late been listening to. Don’t miss out on this!
From my experience, I know that Morton Lindberg doesn’t accept anything but the best and produces for the benefit of the audience the recorded material in a superabundance of formats. Open and warm acoustics at any play-back level, though I usually try to get the sound as realistic as possible; as if I were present. I do not have neighbours to worry about! 2L’s immersive recording style is not as prominent as in other ‘real surround’ recordings and that is just as fine with me.
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