An absolute gem from the young group from Stavanger, Norway.
The eminent cellist Clemens Hagan chose his accompanists well. His performance of Haydn's wonderful C Major Concerto is full of life and vitality. Of course, it's played with utmost virtuosity, but also with such musicality and a refined tone. A musical winner in every way and very highly recommended to Audiophilia readers.
Another lovely surprise is the very mature reading of Mozart's incredible Sinfonia Concertante. Here, the two soloists are plucked directly from the young band, and splendid they are.
Back to Hagen for a moment. This master teacher at the Mozarteum plays his Strad cello for all it's worth. He throws himself into the rhythms with abandon yet everything is controlled beautifully. You are taken for a whirling dhirvish ride yet you'll never fear your safety. Hagen's got you. Enwrapped.
The band's website bio says that "IB1 is a progressive string ensemble founded in 2008. It unites musicians teaching at the University of Stavanger, their most accomplished students, and members of the distinguished Stavanger Symphony Orchestra. 1B1's founder and artistic leader is violinist Jan Bjøranger. In its short existence, the ensemble has already collaborated with such outstanding performers and composers as Arvo Pärt, Clemens Hagen, Benjamin Schmid, Steve Reich, Tonu Kaljuste and Lars Anders Tomter. 1B1 received a Norwegian Grammy for the «Holberg Variations» album, and was chosen as the first recipient of a major grant from Talent Norge AS (Talent Norway)."
That the group is a blend of pros and students is remarkable and a testament to the Norwegian musical education system. You'll hear nothing but professional quality -- and the scrutiny of the superb recording proves it. Listen to the horn and oboe accompaniment of the Mozart. Secure and thrilling. And the strings arrayed for the Haydn are well nigh perfect and heard clearly at Hagen's very high speeds.
It's suggested that Hagen took his time to choose his accompanists for this project. Like all great artists, he knows how to choose wisely. He surrounds himself with excellence.
Whether you have none or ten versions of this famous concerto, you need this one. Audiophiles, hell, just for the incredible recording of a great Strad in digital. Hear those strings abending!
As for an orchestral recording, another winner. Horns sounding great. Strings silky and dynamic. We're all good, here.