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Reviews: Mozart: Violin Concertos - Marianne Thorsen, TrondheimSolistene

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Reviews: 5

Site review by mwagner1962 October 25, 2006
Performance:   Sonics:  
I had ordered a different 2L SACD from the 2L website some time back and was tremendously impressed with the sound and performance....especially the sound. I feel that the folks at 2L know their "stuff" when they set out to record.

This new Mozart SACD is another feather in 2L's cap, as the sound is immediate and vivid. I compared this SACD to my other SACD of Mozart's Violin Concertos with Julia Fischer and Jakov Kreizberg on Pentatone. It is an interesting comparison, as the Pentatone SACD gives us a more spacious and wee bit distant (not bad) feel while the 2L is somewhat closer and more immediate, which is also very fine.

Comparing performances is more difficult, as both Marianne Thorsen and Julia Fischer are both outstanding musicians. Both players play with feeling and passion, never letting their apparent virtuosity get in the way of the music. For many years I have gotten tired of the numerous new players on the international scene...those players who drip with virtuosic skills but have little to no apparent musical skills...or musical skills that take decades to develop. Both ladies on the two recordings are consummate musicians and players.

I have to say that I will keep both SACDs as Ms. Thorsen and Miss Fischer offer superb readings and while the sound on the two SACDs are slightly different, I can declare no definite winner...not a bad thing to deal with at all!!

Highly recommended!!!!

Site review by ramesh January 3, 2007
Performance:   Sonics:  
The Mozart violin concertos are well served on SACD, with this newcomer added to the ongoing complete series from Julia Fischer on PentaTone, and Manze in these last three 'authentic' concertos. Fischer plays with a larger, but still chamber orchestra, including harpsichord continuo for the first two concertos. Manze plays on a period instrument with a period orchestra. Thorsen's orchestra is small; strings are 5,3, 3, 3, 1. Hence these three SACDs are complementary. Fischer plays her own cadenzas, and I am not familiar with the ones Thorsen plays.

As has been noted, this SACD ( not strictly hybrid, as there is a separate CD enclosed in the sleeve, so one gets two discs for the price of one ) is recorded in the new DXD format of high rate PCM, to faciliatate editing. The Manze and Fischer discs are both native DSD productions. To get down to specifics, the sound of this SACD is amazing. For a demonstration, there is no better place to start than the ethereal opening of the adagio of K 216. The renowned musicologist Alfred Einstein wrote that this movement was 'musical manna from heaven', and marks the first occurrence of where Mozart's 'godlike genius' was realized. Soundwise, the Mozart violin concertos never fared well on early SACDs, the combination of high solo violin, in front of a chamber orchestra with horns tending to produce sheens of awful glassy sound. Notable culprits were the integral set with Perlman and the VPO, and the Zuckerman disc with the ECO. The Manze SACD which I have previously reviewed, the Fischer discs and this new one eliminate all the faults of early digital.

In the adagio of the Third concerto, anyone who has sat close to a live performance of this sublime movement will surely have been struck by the breathy, limpid nature of the muted strings in a live acoustic, before the solo violin soars in its high cantilena. This disc is the first I have heard which fully preserves these attributes. Even the well-recorded Pamela Frank set on Art Nova from the late 1990s sounds two-dimensional compared to this newcomer. [ The Manze SACD has this to a lesser extent, not due to a recording fault, but because the effect is more prominent with modern metal strings. I have not heard the Fischer SACD of this concerto.] The other striking feature in this movement, as captured in the recording, are the pizzicati bass notes. These are superbly delineated : precisely localised in the soundstage, harmonically rich, and not swamping the muted strings. The timbre of the horns do not disappear into the glassiness of the strings as they were wont to do in early PCM digital recordings. Another impressive feature is the fidelity of the solo violin as recorded. One can hear that the soloist is miked closely, yet despite this, there is a remarkable absence of rosiny bowing, or hair clicking on strings.

Where do the performances stack up against the formidable competition? The most striking aspect on first hearing is that these performances are uniformly leisurely in tempo. Pamela Frank and Perlman are brisker in virtually all movements, as are Manze and Fischer on SACD. In fact, in terms of tempi, the closest comparison I could find were David Oistrakh's versions on EMI with a velvet plush Berlin Philharmonic. In this case, Oistrakh is fleeter than Thorsen-- quite some achievement! Mention of the Berlin Phil brings me to the set of Mozart wind concertos conducted by Karajan for EMI in the 1970s, featuring section leaders from his incomparable orchestra. This set met with some criticism, as it was felt that the self-effacing nature of the soloists meant that solo lines tended to dovetail excessively into the orchestral texture.

This would have been potentially the fault in this SACD if the disc hadn't been recorded so well. In many sections, the impression is that Thorsen is playing in the manner of a chamber musician, which, ironically, is probably the way the concertos were written. This means a tendency towards homogeneity in texture. For instance, in the bravura sections of the first movements in all three concertos, most of the soloists tend to highlight the differences in texture in passages which sweep from the G string up to the E string, with the soloist relishing the gutty 'digging-in' of the bow to sound the lower notes. These sections are underremarked by Thorsen, which is a perfectly valid way of playing them, echoing the nature of the Karajan set mentioned earlier. However, one odd but welcome section of individuality occurs just before 8' in the finale of the A major, where the orchestra play a sotto voce reprise of the Turkish theme as a parody cadenza.

The clarity of the recording means that sections of her playing which could have faded into the orchestra in a lesser disc, are still completely audible, both in the CD and SACD versions of the performance. One wonders, however, whether the fact that the recording gives her absolutely no leeway to fudge any note meant that she became slightly inhibited in the studio, concentrating on technical accuracy rather than giving herself wholeheartedly to bravura, as Manze strikingly does in some sections. Nevertheless, her playing is excellent.

Review by Julien November 4, 2006 (14 of 16 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  
This is some pure delight and I want to thank our friend Mr Lindberg for the kind attention.
Thank you also all the musicians and the recording team. This is some amazingly beautiful work, and being a cellist myself I can tell that this was not a one day job.

I am very tempted to put this recording ahead of my Lindsays Beethoven string quartett SACD for the quality of the recording. The flow of the music is more natural than anything I've heard on my system, the tone quality and soundstaging are indeed outstanding, the balance perfect between the soloist and the orchestra (I hate when you have a very upfront soloist and the orchestra in the other room like it usually was a few decades ago and still is nowadays on many promotional releases).
I also have a very personal feeling: even with the volume quite loud at a "live" standard, my ears are not tired, which is usually not the case with even some very good SACDs I have. And I think the fact that there is no conversion between the recording and the editing (main problem with 1-bit DSD if I'm not mistaking, since 1-bit doesn't allow editing) has something to do with these oustanding qualities. Viva DXD!

Marianne Thorsen and the Trondheim Solistene are outstanding and very sensible musicians who gave one hundred percent of their talent on this performance. The technique is by all means impeccable, the style being very elegant as well. Every stylistic detail is taken care of, though never affecting the unity of a music that has to move forward. The only reason why I gave 4 stars and half for the playing, and will still keep my Lindsays at the top of my list, is that the playing could have more of that "magic" some of the greats have, that combination of brilliance, charm and magic that can make time hang out there still for a moment, or make you jump out of your chair shouting "waouh!" at some other moments...

But anyway, our players play and understand this Mozart beautifuly, and the recording quality, including the equipment, technology, ingeneering and mastering, is I believe quite the best there is in this world at this moment.

I think my SACD player just made a very good friend here...

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Review by threerandot November 14, 2006 (6 of 8 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:    
Marianne Thorsen is a sensitive and intelligent musician who is wonderfully backed by the Trondheim Solistene. There is beauriful playing throughout these Mozart Concertos and I particularly enjoy the 2nd Mvmt of No. 3 in G with the winds and horns so beautifully caught. Also notice the winds in the 3rd Mvmt of that concerto which ring through so naturally.

The soloist is much more clearly and vividly caught on the SACD disc than on the CD, which is a little more brightly lit in the strings, although the winds do come throught very pleasingly. My stereo rating is for the Redbook disc which comes seperately from the SACD. The SACD disc is not hybrid. Naturally, the Redbook CD does not have the same depth, but is still excellent for your CD playback.

What is most important is how the listener is placed in such a way to not only hear, but feel the presence of the players around you. The balance is quite remarkable and "life-like" and gives you the feeling of being there. I particularly sense this most keenly when I am lying down and listening with my eyes closed.

A very relaxing and enjoyable program of Mozart which never fatigues the listener at all and only keeps you wanting more. Let's hope that 2L will release the remaining concertos for violin, as well as the Rondo in A K.269. I also add that I second many of the thoughts in the above two reviews!

The packaging is a very attractive digipak which holds the SACD and the CD in two different pockets. Highly recommended for the Mozart Lover or anyone who enjoys classical music. Very relaxing after a hard day.

Shawn

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Review by Audiophile.no April 30, 2014 (2 of 2 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  
In addition to its rich cultural traditions of knitting mittens and home burned production, the municipality Selbu with its location at the dark side of Jonsvannet a beautiful church where the oldest parts believed to date from the 1100s. In this church the Trondheimsolistene arranged a concert with Marianne Thorsen as soloist on three of Mozart's violin concertos one day in May this year (2006). This led to a release of the SA-CD on the label 2L.

The concert consisted of the violin concertos nso. 3-5, respectively KV. 216, 218 and 219. In other words, three violin concertos composed around 1775. Musically this is a very appealing release, where Marianne Thorsen excels as a soloist. My definite favorite on this disc is the interpretation of the 3rd Violin Concerto (KV 216), where the adagio particularly appeals to me. This trio of violin concertos seems to be a widely used combination as concert repertoire, and this is also including a release with Anne-Sophie Mutter with these three.


2L, which stands for Lindberg Lyd AS, has in many ways made an unusual approach to this task. Firstly, it is very gratifying that the constant rumors of SACD's death constantly are confirmed to be significantly exaggerated, and this time (2006) in the form of a very audiophile release here in Norway. 2L has not chosen to make this as a hybrid disc (possibly due to technical reasons?), But instead has equipped this album with a separate disc for CD and SACD, the latter has both stereo and multichannel tracks. For the buyer, this is of course an excellent situation, allowing eg an AB comparison of CD and SACD. How this comes out cost-wise, I leave to Lindberg to watch over.

Furthermore 2L claim that this is the first SACD release in Europe where it is used "Digital eXtreme Definition" (DXD) during recordings. From what I understand this is actually PCM with resolution of 352.8 kHz / 32bit. This is then converted to DSD on SACD.

Uncertain of how DXD influence on the result, this is a very good release even when it comes to sound quality. Subjectively perceived it is very wel defined, and dynamics that are so important in giving life and presence to this type of recordings are particularly prominent.

There is always a tension connected to multi-channel publishing, especially for classical music. For a good number of conservatives music buyers - not to mention conservative audiophile - it is a heavily fortified dogma that a presentation should preferably take place in only two channels and, alternatively, a multi-channel publishing strictly impose the listening position from the floor, preferably the back row!

To this dogma I think the gentlemen L `Orange and Lindberg have a relatively liberal approach. At least it is here more activity in the surround channels than is usual for multi-channel publishing of classical music, and it revolves largely on direct sounds, not just the ambience.

And should I try to place myself somewhere in Selbu Church this day in May based on the sound stage, it is under no circumstances the back of the gallery. At the tip of the conductor's wand is far moer likely. And then we all may philosophize over the location that provides the best for the music ...

The Mozart release is highly recommended as both CD and SACD recording. Not to mention if you want to hear beautiful rendition of Mozart.

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This review was originally written and published in Norwegian by me at www.Audiophile.no in 2006, and in English in 2013.

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