Adam Baldych & Helge Lien Trio: Brothers – A Review

Finally, another jazz review

As the subtitle of my blog indicates, I write about Classical Music and Jazz.

I really don’t have a strong preference between the two genres, I love them both very much. However, I’m not sure how much of an overlap there is between the following of the two genres among the readers of my blog. Please comment below and let me know if you prefer one style over the other, or if you like both like me.

In the beginning of my blog, I usually tried to alternate between Jazz and Classical for my blog posts. Recently, there has been a significantly higher percentage of classical on my blog. This is not because my preferences have changed, but rather because I prefer to review recent new releases, and not be reviewer no. 2173 to tell you that Kind Of Blue is a pretty decent album (it is by the way…)

And recently, the number of Jazz releases I like hasn’t been that big. And given that this blog is my personal one, I feel no obligation to write a bad review of an album I just don’t care about.

That’s why the average review score on my blog is somewhere between 4 and 5 stars, it’s just much more fun writing about stuff that is really good.

When I give lower reviews like the one that follows, it is typically about artists I care about, that often in the pre-streaming days I would have bought just for the name.

To wrap up this long intro: if you like Jazz and have been disappointed a bit by my blog recently, don’t dispair, I haven’t forgotten about this genre. I just can’t guarantee a 50/50 distribution of genres right now. The easiest solution is to subscribe to my blog, check out the headline, like this you can easily get alerted when a new post comes out.

Helge Lien

Helge Lien is one of these names. So far I’ve loved all his trio albums very much, see my review of his latest albums here and here. So I was very pleased to see that after Guzuguzu, Helge now released another album, on the German label ACT.

And as expected, I like very much what Helge does here.

So where is the obvious BUT?

Adam Baldych / Helge Lien Trio / Tore Brunborg – Brothers (ACT 2017)

Adam Baldych Helge Lien Trio Brothers Tore Brunborg 24 88 ACT 2017

Well, here it comes; It is the sound of Adam Baldych’s violin. Don’t get me wrong, Baldych is a fantastic musician. I can really appreciate his artistry here.

But I simply cannot get used to the sound of his violin in this context. It doesn’t fit.

So, this review, as usual on my blog, will be a very personal one.

There are tracks I really love, like the appropriately named Love, you get the full beauty of Helge’s trio, and Baldych decides to go pizzicato, during most of the track, i.e. plucking the strings, not using his bow.

But when he uses his bow all the time, I tend to switch off. A typical example is Faith, I simply can’t listen to the entire track.

Or take Cohen’s Hallelujah, a song I love even in the slightly cheesy Jeff Buckley version. If you’d take the violin out of this track, absolutely, like this, sorry, not my cup of tea.

Another solo addition to this album is the Norvegian saxophone player Tore Brunborg, that I knew from collaborations with Tord Gustavsen (Extended Circles) or Manu Katché.

Unfortunately, on this album he very much reminds me of Jan Garbarek. And I must admit, with a few important exceptions, that is a very particular sound I’m also not that fond of. So take a track like One or Brothers, which combine the two, and no way I won’t press the “skip” button before the track is over.

So, in a nutshell, great musicians, but not for me. You should still check it out, the playing is very good.

My rating: 3 stars

You can find it here (Qobuz) and here (Prostudiomasters)


Author: Musicophile

I'm not a professional musician, I don't work in the music industry, I'm just what the name says, somebody who loves music. I've been in love with music for all of my life, took piano lessons for nearly 10 years, and played in several amateur Jazz groups. I go to concerts, both classical and Jazz, quite regularly. And I collect music previously on vinyl and CDs, now on my computer, and am slightly OCD on my music collection. You can reach me at Musicophile1(AT)

6 thoughts on “Adam Baldych & Helge Lien Trio: Brothers – A Review”

  1. and how about “Kind of Black” -real Jazz, huh 🙂 …
    … I’m now listening to “Love” and also watching the video clip on YouTube…
    All I can say is than you so much for sharing, I find it a lovely album, a true discovery (I knew Helge Lien’s Little radio cd which has been part of my collection for quite a few years). Although I hear Adam for the first time, and I quite like his sound, it’s special, electric, quite sharp by it’s presence (mike close to the bridge) but still it seems he likes playing a lot over the low strings and at one point I was wondering if he as playing a viola? well he’s not. So I’m open about this and I don’t really understand what is it that you dislike in Adams playing. Can you put any words to it, I mean more precisely? Does his bowing give you shiver around your back ? Or straightern your hair on top of your head? Or what?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s not necessarily the playing it’s somehow the sound. This is obviously even more subjective than my typical album review, but it really makes me nervous listening to it. Sorry, this is really fuzzy I know. I wish I could be more precise.


  2. Allergic to Baroque sounds? Ever listened to Amandine Beyer’s rendition of Bach suites & partitas? Or Bruno Cocset’s Cello stories? – Now, about Adam’s bowing I must admit his emphasis can be heavy sometimes, sounding like endless moaning, although I like the kind of “raw” , gutty and quite personal sound of his violin…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Let me give you a wobbly answer: it depends. I’m actually not a particular fan of Amandine Beyer’s sound in general. And it is really her sound that makes me not like these albums. There is only one album I really like of her, the recent Pachelbel collection (see my review here:

      I didn’t have Bruno Cocset on my radar screen (which is weird given that I very much like the Alpha label).

      I’m streaming right now Cello Stories. It is true his cello is rather on the bright side. That said, it’s a cello, with completely different frequencies, so really no particular problem here.

      That said, I’m really not allergic to Baroque or HIP sound in general, au contraire. I love Isabelle Faust’s relatively bright sound (with the exception of her recent Mendelssohn recording:, and you will find many other examples of HIP playing on my blog (for any music written before let’s say 1840, I’d never go for a non-HIP recording these days).

      But to come back to this album, here it really boils down to the combination of Helge Liens extremely beautiful sound with the roughness of Baldych. It just doesn’t work for me.


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