STÅLE KLEIBERG: Violin Concerto; Double Bass Concerto – Marianne Thorsen/ Göran Sjölin / Trondheim Symphony Orchestra /Daniel Reuss = 2L

by | Nov 6, 2009 | SACD & Other Hi-Res Reviews | 0 comments

STÅLE KLEIBERG:  Violin Concerto; Double Bass Concerto – Marianne Thorsen/ Göran Sjölin /  Trondheim Symphony Orchestra /Daniel Reuss = 2L multichannel SACD 2L59, 50:57 ***** [Also available online at 2L as 96K/24-bit 5.1 download]:

Ståle Kleiberg (b.1958) is a Norwegian composer, composer-in-residence of the Trondheim Symphony Orchestra, and also associate professor of musicology at the University of Trondheim. He has written works for chamber ensembles, concertos and orchestral works, his most well-known perhaps being “Requiem – for victims of Nazi persecution” and was recorded by Simax (SACD PSC1207) in Washington after its première there on 11 September 2004.

The Double-Bass Concerto, a Trondheim Symphony commission, was written in 1999, and premièred the following year. In three movements, it is accessible though for the soloist a highly-demanding concerto. There’s a mixture of polyphony and folk music coupled with a thorough examination of what the instrument is capable of doing. Dazzlingly high writing making use of the high natural harmonics results in the instrument imitating other sounds. The middle movement’s wintry scenes evince some captivating sounds. Never the easiest instrument to play with agility, Göran Sjölin’s double-bass enthrals with the richness of the results. He is principal double-bass in the Trondheim Symphony Orchestra and is fervently accompanied by his colleagues in the passionately romantic episodes, and with much sensitivity in the adagio. This is an impressive work most impressively played.

The Violin Concerto of 2005, another Trondheim Symphony commission, is a grand work, 21st century Romantic in mood; there’s a good deal of beautifully written, powerful passionate music to be heard here. Marianne Thorsen is very well known from her concert performances, and from her recordings with the Nash Ensemble and the Leopold String Trio and not least her wonderful recording on 2L38 of Mozart’s Violin Concertos 3, 4 and 5 with the Trondheim Soloists; she is also a professor at Trondheim University.

Most impressive is Thorsen’s playing in the sizeable cadenza near the conclusion of the work.  The concerto comes across as a natural successor to Sibelius in particular but also to other great 20th century concertos. Thorsen’s interaction with the orchestra in the more thoughtful first two movements is palpable, and her rich tone and always spot-on tuning are impressive.  Both concertos offer tight structure and clear architecture, their musical depth combining with a refreshing and tonal accessibility.

2L’s engineering is rightly held in very high esteem, and the sonics on this issue are up to the very high standards Morten Lindberg and his team have already achieved.  Recorded a year apart, the two concertos are recorded differently, with soloists’ needs in mind, the double-bass more spotlit to capture the full spectrum of its effects, the violin in an entirely natural perspective. The sound from two channels is superb; multichannel listening offers increased clarity as the orchestra is spread in a horseshoe shape, allowing even more detail in listening.

This impressive and entirely Norwegian production is well worth investigating and is a great credit to Norway’s contemporary music scene.

— Peter Joelson

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