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Berg: The Trondheim Concert

Berg: The Trondheim Concert

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Five years after releasing his second solo album, Acres of Blue, Espen Berg decided to do a fully improvised piano concert and a live recording. This one-taker is a culmination of years of development, reflection and research. The music created in the moment reflects his emotions in a profound way, and every time he play it’s different. Every second of music is unique, and it feels like an endless resource both musically and spiritually. The Trondheim Concert is recorded at Dokkhuset.


Having had the pleasure in recent years of reviewing a couple of Norwegian pianist Espen Berg’s trio albums, I was intrigued when this new release, “The Trondheim Concert” landed in my inbox. Five years after releasing his second solo album, “Acres of Blue” Espen Berg decided to present a fully improvised piano concert in a live setting. This album is the recording from the one-off concert. As I started listening to Part 1- the album being split into 10 parts – my intrigue soon turned to surprise, and then to awe. This is so good, brilliant actually. The music I’m listening to for the first time is stunning. As the album progresses, I am astonished at how beautiful this is, on every level. After several listens through, my considered appraisal would be this; What we have here, is quite possibly one of the finest improvised solo piano performances I have had the pleasure of listening to in the last decade or so.

Espen Berg, for those who are new to his music, is a Norwegian pianist and composer. He lives in Trondheim, and in 2011 started working on his first solo project “Noctilucent” which was released in 2012 and became the starting point for his career as a band leader. My own experience of his music, up to this point in time, comes from listening to his excellent trio releases. Espen Berg Trio was formed in 2014 with fellow band members Bárður Reinert Poulsen (bass) and Simon Olderskog Albertsen (drums). The trio is now considered one of the most innovative and highly recognised piano trios from Norway. And rightly so, I might add. As a sideman Berg has worked with Hildegunn Øiseth Quartet, A Tonic for the Troops, Seamus Blake (Bridges), Daniel Herskedal, Anders Grønseth (Multiverse), Mathias Eick Quintet, and Marius Neset and the Trondheim Jazz Orchestra, as well as with duo partner Silje Nergaard.

As I listen to this wonderful concert, it’s clear in my own mind that I’m not going to get through this review without mentioning the obvious name that will spring immediately to mind; Keith Jarrett. The words “solo piano improvised concert” are synonymous with the legend’s name. Yes there are others, of course, but over the last six decades (almost), Jarrett has invented and reinvented this genre of music time and time again. And there are similarities in “The Trondheim Concert” to Jarrett’s work, stylistically and emotively. There’s an intense luminescence to Berg’s performance here that reminds me of Jarrett in his prime and pomp. Throughout the wholly engaging ten parts, there are many changes of mood, pace and style. But there’s one thing that holds it all together; a charismatic feel that is all of Berg’s making. Melodies shift seamlessly from light to dark, sublime motifs repeat and take delightfully unexpected twists and turns, tender, reflective passages give way to unabridged excitement, all wrapped up in a warm blanket of gorgeous lyricism. And as much as I use Keith Jarrett’s name as reference, it’s important to highlight the fact that it’s Espen Berg’s personality that shines through with remarkable clarity on this fabulous recording.

With the undoubted depth, sincerity and individuality of this recording comes a large amount of charm. There’s a mystique about it, with Berg casting a magical spell on his listeners from the very first note to the last. I’m totally captivated, lost in my own little world as I let the pianist’s notes entrance and engulf me. It’s a fabulous, joyous journey, and one I wholeheartedly recommend.

-- UK Vibe

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  • Release Specifications

    • Number of Discs: 2
    • Release Date:
    • Label: NXN Recordings
    • UPC/Barcode: 7090052640210
    • Item Number: NXN2011