Friday, July 19, 2013

Marianne Thorsen & TrondheimSolistene's Mozart Violin Concertos on LP

What a wonderful LP I received just before I had to pack up the turntable and head to Colorado. Morten Lindberg of 2L Recordings sent me the new Mozart Violin Concertos LP just a few days ago, and I couldn't have asked for a better farewell session for my Texas listening room. First of all, the orchestra is the stunning TrondheimSolistene--which is responsible for the landmark Souvenir albums from last year, the very recordings that introduced me to 2L. Seeing their name on the cover felt like a visit from old, dear friends. Second of all, it's Mozart. While I'm not one of those Mozart fiends who started obsessing about this music the minute they watched Amadeus for the first time--my heart will always belong to Russians such as Prokofiev and Shostakovich and Frenchmen such as Ravel and Debussy--but Mozart is Mozart. It's sheer beauty in a nutshell. I can't think of a single day in my life where I wouldn't want to indulge in this music for at least a few minutes.

The liner notes say it better: "To us, Mozart is as solid as rock, as soft as snow, and as clear as ice." That's a uniquely Scandinavian way to express one's love for Mozart, but it's so appropriate to the sensibility over at 2L. Like nearly every single recording I've reviewed from this Norwegian label, this recording is alarmingly pure and translucent. All of the light within the music glows in such a direct, unabashed way that other classical recordings sound like they've aged a little too long in the cellar. There's something so immediate about the 2L recordings, and just a little crystalline--like ice and snow. As with all 2L LPs, this pressing is magnificent in its quiet, its revelatory nature. After listening to this recording, you may ask yourself: "is it possible to get closer to this music without experiencing it live?"

I'm discussing two Mozart violin concertos--No. 4 in D major (kv218) and No. 3 in G major (kv 216)--and I've barely metioned the soloist, Marianne Thorson. Perhaps that's because she is integrated so well with her fellow musicians. Morten's vision was to present a "fresh version of the most elegant violin concertos in the history of music," and one of his recording trademarks is to find novel ways to present them--hence the word fresh. As you can see in the photograph below, Thorsen is surrounded by the orchestra and not placed on a giant pedestal. That allows her to be more connected to her fellow musicians, and to produce results that are more organic and whole. This is such a lovely counterpoint to concertos recordings that sound like the soloist was recorded in a different space, on a different day--perhaps even in a different country.

This recording, conducted by Oyvind Gimse, has already received its share of accolades. That's because it was originally released in CD/SACD back in 2006. Since then, it won a Norwegian GRAMMY as Best Classical Album, and Kalman Rubison of Stereophile chose it as one of his "Records to Die For" back in 2008. So you may already know this recording well. But as usual 2L's DXD 352.8kHz/24bit Direct Metal Mater 180g audiophile grade vinyl pressing is the real news here, and if there's a reason to still listen to vinyl...this is undoubtedly it.

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