Martin Fröst

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New album release: Messiaen Quatuor pour la Fin du Temps

MARTIN FRÖST OLIVIER MESSIAEN: QUATUOR POUR LA FIN DU TEMPS INTERNATIONAL RELEASE DATE: NOVEMBER 3, 2017 A Personal Response to a Classic for Our Own Times The Quartet for the End of Time is intensely personal music and it deserves an equally personal response from anyone playing it now. When Martin Fröst overheard a rehearsal through an open window as a teenager at a music camp, he was transfixed: ‘I was bewitched … and I ended up walking away from the house that day with a different view on the world.’ It was the first work he played with Janine Jansen when they met 16 years ago and the cellist on that occasion was Thorleif Thedéen. This was a transforming experience for all three musicians. Martin Fröst remembers it as ‘one of life’s rare and profound musical moments, when everything comes together and you are left with a deep sense of connection not only to the piece, but to each other – we have been trying to find the right circumstances to record the piece together ever since.’ Finally, these musicians have brought this cherished project to fruition, joined by the brilliant pianist Lucas Debargue. The deep expressive power of the Quartet was brought home to them once again – and the time was right too: ‘As the world has been marking and reflecting upon the several anniversaries of the World Wars in recent years, it felt that now was the perfect time to get this project off the ground, especially too as I feel the music, is still as relevant in today’s political climate as it was in 1941.’
 Composed in a Prisoner-of-War Camp Composed in Stalag VIII-A, a prisoner-of-war camp at Görlitz, the Quartet for the End of Time has an extraordinary genesis. Messiaen was among thousands of French soldiers taken prisoner in June 1940 and at a transit camp near Nancy he composed the solo clarinet movement, ‘Abîme des oiseaux’, for Henri Akoka, who gave the first performance of it there, with the cellist Etienne Pasquier holding the music for him. Messiaen, Akoka and Pasquier were all taken to Stalag VIII-A and these gifted musicians soon met another, Jean Le Boulaire, a violinist who went on to a successful acting career (under the name Jean Lanier, his first film was Marcel Carné’s 1943 classic Les Enfants du paradis). To compose a piece for violin, clarinet, cello and piano (his own instrument), Messiaen needed manuscript paper to write it down. Thanks to the kindness of Karl-Erich Brüll, a German guard, Messiaen was given the paper he needed and got to work. When he finished the ‘Intermède’ for clarinet, violin and cello, Messiaen rehearsed it with the musicians in a bathroom before working on the rest of the Quartet. A battered piano was found (its notes stuck), and the camp commander arranged for an inexpensive cello to be purchased for Etienne Pasquier to play. Under such challenging circumstances, it was little short of a miracle that the Quartet was composed and performed at all – but it was, and a masterpiece was born. An Extraordinary Premiere The premiere was given at 6:00 p.m. on 15 January 1941 and Messiaen later claimed that the audience consisted of ‘5,000 prisoners’. In fact it was nearer 400, crammed into the camp’s makeshift theatre. The weather across Northern Europe was brutally cold in January 1941 and it was around –20C at Görlitz. How did the audience react to hearing this extraordinary music in such difficult circumstances? According to Messiaen and Pasquier, they listened with great concentration, but the camp newspaper reported that ‘while there was fervent enthusiasm on some rows, it was impossible not to sense the irritation on others. … But it is often a mark of a work's greatness that it has provoked conflict on the occasion of its birth.’ TRACKLISTING I. Liturgie de cristal II. Vocalise, pour l’ange qui annonce la fin du temps III. Abîme des oiseaux IV. Intermède V. Louange à l’éternité de Jésus VI. Danse de la fureur, pour les sept trompettes VII. Fouillis d’arcs-en-ciel, pour l’ange qui annonce la fin du temps VIII. Louange à l’immortalité de Jésus   TOUR DATES – Quatuor pour la fin du temps November 8, 2017: L'Auditori, Barcelona Spain (with Henrik Mawe and Members of Armida Quartet)  December 4, 2017: Club Musical de Québec, Ville de Quebec Canada (with Janine Jansen, Torleif Thedeen, Lucas Debargue)   December 5, 2017: The Royal Conservatory, Toronto Canada (with Janine Jansen, Torleif Thedeen, Lucas Debargue)   December 7, 2017: Carnegie Hall, New York City USA (with Janine Jansen, Torleif Thedeen, Lucas Debargue)    

Fröst named Chief Conductor of the Swedish Chamber Orchestra

  Fröst has been named as Chief Conductor of the Swedish Chamber Orchestra for a three year term from the beginning of the 2019/20 season. The appointment will open up yet another window to Fröst’s creativity. Commenting on the announcement Martin Fröst said “The Swedish Chamber Orchestra is one of Scandinavia’s leading orchestras; their passion, dedication and creativity is an inspiration. I can’t wait to join the journey and have the chance to contribute to their already wonderful reputation both nationally and internationally and have the opportunity to develop a new framework and vision for the orchestra, together with the musicians. I have tried to open new doors into the future and this really gives me a chance to take another step in a new direction. It really is an honour to be joining this wonderful musical family.” Fröst will join the orchestra as a guest conductor in September 2017 when he conducts Beethoven Symphony No.4. More news on the announcement can be found here.   Photo: Fröst celebrating with the musicians and administration of the Swedish Chamber Orchestra.

Summer 2017 Highlights

  H A M B U R G • Elbphilharmonie Copland Concerto with NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchester L O S  A N G E L E S • Walt Disney Hall Mozart Concerto with LA Philharmonic V E R B I E R  F E S T I V A L • Salle des Combins Lutoslawski Dance Preludes & Shaw Clarinet Concerti with Verbier Festival Chamber Orchestra A M S T E R D A M • Concertgebouw Mozart Concerto with Amsterdam Sinfonietta L O N D O N • Wigmore Hall Mozart and Brahms Quintet with Quatuor Ébène M O N T R E A L Mozart Concerto with Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal B A R C E L O N A Residency at L’Auditori   CLICK HERE for SUMMER SCHEDULE

Fröst nominated for the Nordic Council Music Prize 2017

Martin Fröst is one of the 13 artists nominated for the Nordic Council Music Prize 2017. The winner is revealed in November 2017. For more information on the nomination please click here.

Genesis on RSPOplay

Genesis is a strikingly original project created and led by Martin Fröst as part of his collaboration with the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra. A seamless programme of works freely drawn from a millennium of music history. The video is also featuring a behind-the-scenes documentary. Recording from December 2015. To watch the film click here.  

New York Times Interview

This weekend, on August 5th and 6th, Martin performs Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto with the conductor Paavo Jarvi at the Mostly Mozart Festival in New York. The New York Times met up with Martin beforehand to discuss this masterpiece with him. Read the interview here.     Photo: Brian Harkin for The New York Times

Highlights in 2016/17

Upcoming Highlights V E R B I E R  F E S T I V A L   with Yuja Wang, Leonidas Kavakos, Ebene Quartet N E W  Y O R K   Mozart with the Mostly Mozart Festival Orchestra A M S T E R D A M   “Genesis” with the Amsterdam Sinfonietta L O N D O N   Copland with the Academy of St Martin in the Fields H A M B U R G   Copland with NDR Symphony Orchestra T O K Y O   Mozart with the NHK Symphony Orchestra T E L A V I V   Copland & Artie Shaw with the Israel Philharmonic O S L O   “Genesis” with the Oslo Philharmonic S T O C K H O L M   “Exodus” Project with the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic N E W  Z E A L A N D   Mozart with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra L O N D O N   “Genesis” with the Amsterdam Sinfonietta VERBIER AND NEW YORK Martin returns this summer to the Verbier Festival for two concerts partnering with, amongst others, Yuja Wang, Leonidas Kavakos and the Quatuor Ebène. From Verbier, its straight on to New York to perform at the Mostly Mozart Festival playing Mozart Concerto where his last appearance in 2014 led the New York Times to comment: “In earlier times, the talent of Martin Frost would have attracted suspicion. Like that of Paganini, whom contemporaries suspected to be in cahoots with the Devil: How else to explain his wizardry on the violin, which surpassed everyone else in technique and brilliance?” GENESIS AT THE VIENNA FILMFEST AND ON TOUR In July and August the Vienna Filmfest will broadcast “Genesis” – Martin’s new project which he premiered at the Stockholm Konserthus last December. Now a full-length film, tv companies are queuing up to broadcast it and presenters across Europe have already announced upcoming performances in Bologna, Rome, Amsterdam, London and Oslo. View the trailer here. FROM AMSTERDAM TO TOKYO Other highlights of the upcoming season include a concert at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, where Martin is a regular, priority guest artist. The Netherlands is followed by performances with the NHK Symphony Orchestra, Oslo Philharmonic, Israel Philharmonic, Academy of St Martin in the Fields, the St Paul Chamber Orchestra, Royal Stockholm Philharmonic, Orchestre National de Lyon, New Zealand Philharmonic and the NDR Symphony Orchestra with repertoire ranging from Mozart to “Genesis” and Brahms to Artie Shaw.   Recent Highlights Highlights of the 2015/16 season were the premiere of Martin’s new project “Genesis” with the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic, the release of his debut CD on Sony Classical and performances with leading orchestras both as clarinetist and conductor: MOZART WITH CHAILLY AND LEIPZIG The season began with the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra and Riccardo Chailly for three performance in the Gewandhaus, an open air concert in the famous Leipzig Augustplatz attended by 32 000 people and a tour of Vienna, Paris and London performing the Mozart Clarinet Concerto. The reviews said it all: “Magical” wrote The Arts Desk, “inspired” commented classicalsource and “irresistible” was The Guardian’s verdict.  Meanwhile The Times asked “What’s in the blood of the Swedish clarinettist Martin Fröst? … sterling dynamic control and the awesome length of his breaths. Chailly’s forces proved ideal comrades; together they generated magic, laced with subtle melancholy, the work’s secret ingredient. A rich banquet, this concert. If only I could have had seconds.” YOUTUBE SENSATION News of Martin’s “irresistible” Mozart has extended beyond the concert hall. The videos of him performing the concerto with the Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Saarbrücken on YouTube have been watched nearly 1.5 million times, making his performance the most watched classical clarinet video on the channel. NIELSEN CONCERTO IN BERLIN Spring saw Martin’s debut with the DSO in Berlin conducted by Thomas Søndergård performing the Nielsen Clarinet Concerto at the Philharmonie.  Reporting on the concert Deutschland Radio Kultur commented “For a singular performer such as Fröst the technical challenges (of the Nielsen Clarinet Concerto) are no more than an additional stimulant.” Der Tagesspiegel added “he effortlessly switches between speaking, singing and an electrifying virtuoso tone. With stupendous security, he manages to exhale a pianissimo which extends right to the farthest corners of the Philharmonie.” ON THE PODIUM In recent years the ever curious Martin has turned his attention to the podium regularly conducting ensembles including the St Paul Chamber Orchestra in Minnesota, the Swedish Chamber Orchestra and the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic. Reviewing one of his recent performances the Stavanger Aftenblad commented” Such ease with Beethoven’s Symphony no. 1 – the well-chosen tempi, the clear accents and all the rhetorical-musical articulation that was so distinctly a feature of  (Franz) Brüggen’s conducting, we heard now again with Martin Fröst  He impressed greatly.” Meanwhile the Dagens Nyheter commented “Fröst's ability to get the orchestra on their toes was evident in a performance that took on the dynamics and created a swirling energy …” “ROOTS” The success of Martin Fröst’s first Sony Classical release “Roots” continues to receive international critical acclaim – most recently earning a 5 out of 5 star review from the BBC Music Magazine (June issue) and chosen as Limelight Magazine’s CD of the Month (May issue) in Australia: “The title of Swedish clarinettist Martin Fröst’s Sony Classical debut says it all while implying so much more. Growing out of a live music project Fröst was already working on in Stockholm, Roots is an entirely organic listening experience, resembling (not so much contemplating) an ancient, solitary tree but strolling through a fragrant garden where a profusion of different plants brings forth flowers and fruits in eclectic abundance.”

Martin Fröst introduces “Roots”

“My quest to create new programmes which move beyond traditional concert formats is something that has fascinated me for years and, when I was putting together such a project to premiere in Stockholm last year, Sony Classical enthusiastically supported the idea of releasing some of the music as my first album on the label. „All the music that is performed on the album - apart from the Crusell – is a kind of reincarnation of the original, whether it be a transcription, variation or a new setting that has come about through an improvisation.  Afterall, music is nomadic and its roots have spread over thousands of years through different continents and cultures taking on new shapes as it travels and evolves. “In the Greek melodies and the Hildegard of Bingen it is a fusion between two types of old schools.  Elsewhere on the programme I wanted to remind myself how improvisation has played such an important part in the evolution of music. That’s how I also came up with new playing techniques – for instance simultaneous singing / playing through a 3 step breathing technique (track 16) and beatbox playing (track 18). “So on first sight the album is something of a musical “hotchpotch” and is intended as one … the idea of coupling things that may appear at first to be completely alien turns me on. When things all of a sudden – sometimes almost unnoticed – merge into something completely different and unexpected and then you realise that there is indeed a connection between them, such as in the traditional Polksa which blends into Anders Hillborg’s newly written Hymns of Echos. “When we listen to music today we are formed by our own times and influenced by centuries of music which we can only imagine how it might have sounded originally because our ears are “new ears” and not old ones.  Take just one comparison to art – the Elgin Marbles –  we know and love them in our times for their majestic, white simplicity. But recently it came to light that they were originally brightly painted. That makes our perception and perhaps also our appreciation of them completely different and how do we know how they were perceived or appreciated when they were newly created? “In the light of this we can start to understand what, at least for me, looks like a paradox. Namely that when we sit and think about what has influenced us from the past we might not actually think how the past is influenced by us. “I hope you enjoy the music.”

Genesis premieres in Stockholm

"Fröst finds his own voice" is the headline of Sweden’s leading paper Dagnes Nyheter which then continues "… life is born out of darkness and a distant clarinet: Martin Fröst follows his choreographed concert performance of "Dollhouse" with the world premiere of “Genesis” and moves his focus from the exploration of the power and balance between orchestra, conductor and soloist to a clear questioning of the interpretative tradition ….drawing the audience in on “a small fast track through the history of music … “ The two performances of “Genesis” at Stockholm’s Konserthus last week were the fastest selling tickets of the hall’s season.  Audiences who had experienced “Dollhouse” in 2013 knew what might be on offer and signed up immediately for the next installment - an absorbing musical odyssey with a philosophical question at its roots: Does the past influence us or do we influence the past?  “This was not just a musical journey across time but also a theatrical experience of rank” wrote Aftenposten. "A musical dramatic performance of the highest level … rarely have two hours passed so quickly, and contained so much.” Whilst audiences in both Sweden and abroad eagerly await for “Genesis" to return to the stage, audiences can experience the music on Martin’s new album - “Roots” - which is now available to pre-order worldwide

Sony Classical launches “Roots”

  Sony Classical pre-releases Roots today exclusively in Sweden in advance of next week’s premiere performances of “Genesis” in Stockholm with the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic. The album, which is Martin Fröst’s first recording on the Sony label is set for international release on 29 January 2016. The stunning new recording and concert programme created by Martin features a kaleidoscope of repertoire ranging 2000 years, tracing the evolution of music through a continuous soundscape. "The listener will search long and hard to find works and performances like these in which folk music, a religious atmosphere and an avant-garde technique are combined to create such inspired music for our age” writes Wolfgang Sander of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung in the booklet note. Describing the programme – in which Martin features as both soloist and conductor – he comments “My sound-world journey travels through the sources of classical repertoire, and draws a line from the earliest "roots" of music—music inspired by dance and folk, music drawn from sacred rituals of praise, and music as pure entertainment—and explores how, from these roots,  we can open up a new musical door into the future. My journey moves from Gregorian chant, Hildegard von Bingen and Telemann, via gypsy, klezmer and traditional folk music from a variety of countries, all the way through to new works and re-workings of classical pieces… I wanted to give the feeling that, by listening to this programme its like walking through from one room to the next and suddenly you are in a totally different sound world – that idea turns me on.” Roots refers not only to the origins of classical music in religious music and folk music but also to the very personal roots of Martin himself. The final track is a setting of the beautiful and simple Scandinavian folksong Jag vet en dejlig rosa (I know a rose so comely) which comes from Dalarna in the heart of Sweden   Click here to view the Roots introductory video Follow Martin on facebook for links to pre-orders and more news    

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Martin Fröst