In the liner notes to this disc, Swedish clarinetist Martin Fröst is described as a "daring performer" who has "stretched the limits of musical expression", likely owing to his frequent collaborations with several contemporary composers including Anders Hillborg and Krzysztof Penderecki. "Daring" does not leap to mind when describing Mozart, and happily Fröst himself does not flaunt his presumed reputation when tackling these popular works.
Fearsomely talented Swedish clarinetist Martin Fröst continues his conquest of the major concerto repertoire for his instrument with this recording of Carl Nielsen's 1928 Clarinet Concerto, paired with a new concerto by Finland's Kalevi Aho. The Nielsen concerto is a dense work in which the clarinet and the orchestra spend a lot of time going their separate ways, with the path of the clarinet being very twisted indeed.
Swedish clarinetist Martin Fröst is one of the world's top players, with a creamy, utterly consistent tone that is the envy of many a young player. It may be a surprise to see him take up Mozart's Clarinet Concerto in A major, K. 622, once again; he recorded it in the early 2000s with the Amsterdam Sinfonietta, along with its usual partner on disc, the Clarinet Quintet in A major, K. 581. But there are several new things this time around.
Martin Fröst is an internationally renowned clarinettist and conductor ‘Vivaldi’ is a baroque adventure based on the question: What might Vivaldi have composed for the clarinet if it had been more fully developed? For this recording three clarinet concertos have been newly composed, made up of music drawn from Vivaldi’s most beautiful opera and oratorio arias Performed on the mellow, songlike chalumeau – the predecessor of the modern clarinet – and the brilliant, virtuosic clarinet of today, Martin Fröst and Concerto Köln create a won- derful symbiosis between the old and the new The album is complemented with two popular sinfonias by A. Vivaldi and one new air com- posed for chalumeau ‘Vivaldi’ was recorded with Grammy award winning baroque ensemble Concerto Köln
The clarinetist Martin Fröst, after a series of recordings of modern-ish Nordic and Germanic clarinet repertory on the Swedish label BIS, gets a larger mouthpiece here with a release on the major Sony Classical label. Fröst's playing has never been better: he excels in both tough, angular lines and slow cantabile, and both are applied here to a wide variety of material. Three of Schumann's Five Pieces in Folk Style, Op. 102, are made into a little sonata here, and sampling any one of them (tracks 7-9) will show you how compelling Fröst can make only moderately interesting music. Like those pieces, most of the music is arranged from music in media other than clarinet and orchestra.
Something of Vagn Holmboe's approach to writing concertos may be discerned in his numeration: they are not grouped according to the solo instrument (e.g., Piano Concerto No. 1), but counted merely as Concertos in the sequence of their composition, regardless of the featured instruments. This suggests that the soloist's role is somewhat altered: still central as a leading part, but frequently incorporated into the orchestral mass as a coloristic instrument among many others. The Concerto No. 1 for piano and orchestra, Op. 17 (1939), clearly demonstrates Holmboe's procedure, for the piano switches back and forth between lyrical solos and more emphatically rhythmic passages as a percussion instrument. Holmboe's Concerto No. 3 for clarinet and orchestra, Op. 21 (1940-1942), also presents interesting mixtures of the instrument's distinctive tone with other timbres, most strikingly with the brass section. The Concerto No. 7 for oboe and orchestra, Op. 37 (1944-1945), is most beguiling in the many chamber-like, concertino combinations of the oboe with other woodwinds. Pianist Noriko Ogawa, clarinetist Martin Frost, and oboist Gordon Hunt strike the right balance with conductor Owain Arwel Hughes and the Ålborg Symphony Orchestra, since all give prominence to the leading part where Holmboe indicates, but equal attention to the ever-shifting background textures.