Music Reviews

‘The Trondheim Concertos’ from 2L

Balm for the soul in testing times.

It would seem to me that 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 that is so much needed in testing times.

Reading the accompanying booklet is also pure joy. Not only 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. 

No showing off, just darn good musicians with deep respect for the music.

These days, 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!

Recorded music sounds as good as it is recorded.

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. My setup doesn’t allow for Dolby Atmos or Auro-3D, but rest assured that listening to DXD 24bit/352.8kHz in DSD 128fs 5.1 surround is the cherry on the cake. 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. 

Blangy-le-Château, Normandy, France

Copyright © 2023 Adrian Quanjer and

Written by

Adrian Quanjer

Adrian Quanjer is a site reviewer at HRAudio, with many years of experience in classical music. He writes from his country retreat at Blangy-le-Château, France. As a regular concertgoer, he prefers listening to music in the highest possible resolution to recreate similar involvement at home. He is eager to share his thoughts with like-minded melomaniacs at NativeDSD.


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