A PEACOCK’S scream rent the air; a white avian mask obscured the clarinettist’s face; the stage turned purple. Is this autumn’s International Chamber Music Season on the South Bank starting as it means to go on? I do hope so.
The performer Martin Fröst has not only established himself as one of the major clarinettists of our time, he has also ventured into his own way of programming music on stage - challenging the conservative notion of performance presentation. With these new ideas about how to combine movement in music, he is creating new artistic forms within the realm of traditional music.
His first step in this direction took place when he created the playing, dancing and acting main role in Wilfred Hiller and Michael Ende´s opera "Der Rattenfänger". He performed this role in several German opera houses which resulted in his nomination as Interpreter of the Year by "Opernwelt" 1995/96.
Since then, Martin Fröst has, on average, developed one project each season which challenges conservative performance codes and has given him the opportunity to work with similarly minded choreographers, light engineers and directors.
His performance of the Concerto "Peacock Tales" by Anders Hillborg - a monodrama for clarinet soloist, orchestra and dance - has hadenormous international success and won audiences and critics alike all overthe world. The unique aspect of this work is the way in which Martin Fröstsucceeds in combining choreography, mime and musical virtuosity.
Martin Fröst´s recital with tape accompaniment "Dance to Black Pipe" is an intense, surprising combination full of contrasts which combine contemporary music and traditional Swedish folk music with choreography.
In "No Strings Attached" he highlights some of the aspects of human relationships. Short scenes are tied together in a musical and choreographical tale about the meetings between men and women in different roles and at different times. It shows their lonely struggle in the search for love and the pain of separation as well as loneliness and the blessing of love. This is a major multi-medial experience which Martin Fröst presents together with the mezzo soprano Malena Ernman.
“Voices and Wings” which received its premiere in Germany in December 2005. The programme concentrates mainly on music by Schumann, Messiaen and the Swedish composer Anders Hillborg, alternating lesser and better known works taking bird music as its core. Over the next year Martin Fröst takes this programme to Paris, Amsterdam, Copenhagen, San Francisco and Vancouver amongst other places. Accompanied by Roland Pöntinen at the piano the debut concert in Hamburg received the folllowing review in Germany’s Die Welt: “With minimal technical tools he transformed the stage from a concert hall into an event, an event in which the music is heard in a miraculous way ... The scenic additions of this chamber music concert may sound a little odd, but the way Fröst presents the music seems to be an excellent way of fascinating and drawing people into chamber music – people who would otherwise be unlikely to step into a concert hall.“ .