Martin Fröst

Reviews

“This all served to highlight the marvel that is Mozart’s clarinet concerto, which the outstanding Martin Fröst played with irresistible character on a modern version of the basset clarinet for which Mozart wrote. Fröst’s legato in the adagio was particularly fine, while the wit and dexterity of his phrasing in the rondo made it feel as if Papageno was somehow on the platform. Interplay between soloist and a much reduced orchestra was exceptional. Here, finally, were hidden, and not so hidden, depths.”
- The Guardian, October 2015

 

“Musicians queue up to work with clarinettist Martin Fröst, even if it could be pointed out that it does them few favours: his extraordinarily pure tone, sinuous phrasing and seamless breathing technique tend to throw any tiny inaccuracies elsewhere on the podium into a relief they wouldn’t otherwise have had. Still, they seem happy to risk it – and audiences aren’t complaining.”
- Erica Jeal, The Guardian, May 2015

 

“Frost came into the Beethoven symphony with some strong interpretive ideas, judging from the well-executed shifts in dynamics and tempos. It felt like some chemistry was being established, so here’s hoping that Frost and the SPCO will renew their acquaintance soon.”
- Pioneer Press, October 2014

 

“the Swedish clarinetist had such a sweet, smooth caramel tone and full sound across the ample range of his extended “A” clarinet that this became an exceptional interpretation, complemented splendidly by the SPCO’s expertise with Mozart.” 
- Pioneer Press, October 2014

 

“With such dramatic flair and exquisite dynamic control from Fröst, I doubt I’ll hear the clarinet part played this well for some time. If autumn yields other such riches at Wigmore Hall, it’ll be an abundant harvest indeed.”
- bachtrack.com, September 2014

 

“There are plenty of virtuosic fireworks in Poulenc’s Clarinet Sonata, which showed off Mr. Fröst’s impeccable technique. But the most astonishing moments were some of the quiet ones, including a pianissimo line in the Romanza that was so subtle and so private as to evoke a sound half remembered.”
- The New York Times, August 2014

 

“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… There is nothing demonic about Mr. Frost, the 43-year-old Swedish clarinetist who performed in two concerts at the Mostly Mozart Festival on Monday evening. Lanky, with a mop of flaxen hair, he affects an air of amused detachment when he isn’t playing. And yet there is something approaching the supernatural about his command of his instrument.”
- The New York Times, August 2014

 

“Fröst exhibited a virtuosity and a musicianship unsurpassed by any clarinetist — perhaps any instrumentalist — in my memory.”
- The New York Times, December 2013

 

“Mr. Fröst is a kinetic player with a vivid interpretive imagination and a sharply focused, warm tone…At times, particularly in the opening Allegro, he preferred to surf the orchestra’s sound rather than to stand out over it, but it was never a matter of not making the solo line heard; rather he was more engaged with the dialogue between the clarinet and the strings than with holding the spotlight. That changed — the scoring leaves little choice — in the bittersweet Adagio, which he played with a ravishing serenity.”
- The New York Times, August 2012

 

“Frost gave a tour-de-force performance of a work that has become his calling card: “Peacock Tales,” by the Swedish composer Anders Hillborg… Slender, agile and an impressive dancer, Mr. Frost gave a riveting performance.”
- The New York Times, June 2012

 

“His performances the following morning of Béla Bartók’s “Contrasts” (composed for Benny Goodman) and Copland’s haunting Clarinet Concerto were organic and sublime.”
- The Wall Street Journal, June 2012

 

“Martin Fröst performed faultlessly. His range of dynamic control was astounding”
- Edinburgh Evening News, May 2012

 

“Martin Fröst’s phenomenal breath control allows him to spin out melodic lines of gossamer lightness, and the strings of the Australian Chamber Orchestra accompany as if they were listening to him tell a long-held secret, before the buoyant cadenza brings in the first of the many dance rhythms that animate this programme. I’ve never heard it more beguilingly done.” (Dances to a Black Pipe)
- International Record Review, February 2012

 

“Masterful, self-assured, his variable playing and enunciating body language confirms this soloist as one of the best, most recognised respected soloists around the world [...] One observation is surely that some music fans were quietly thanking God that they had been allowed to experience this concert.”
- Anzeiger Harlingerland, January 2012

 

“In the opening movement alone he displayed the entire register of his great technique. The musical ideas fizzed out of him and formed a brilliant dialogue with the orchestra [...] Thanks to his technical ability, Fröst led the work into new dimensions, showing a mix of playfulness and intellectual depth.”
- Ostfriesischer Kurier, January 2012

 

“[Anders Hillborg’s clarinet] concerto gains an extra dimension from the remarkable talents of the performer for whom it was written, the composer’s fellow Swede Martin Fröst.”
- The Irish Times, October 2011

 

“Frost belies his 40-plus years with a near-adolescent vitality and sprightly stage presence. In Anders Hillborg’s clarinet concerto Peacock Tales (without the trappings of mime and masks), his clarity across all registers and a superlative contrast in textures and dynamics revealed a master at work in an almost uninterrupted solo”
- The Age, May 2011

 

“Anders Hillborg’s Clarinet Concerto Peacock Tales was a splendidly decadent offering from the virtuosic Martin Frost. The Swedish musician threw himself into his performance, uniting kinaesthetic intelligence with his playing to animate Hillborg’s beautiful, arrogant peacock… I enjoyed the visual play with the lighting and the performer’s breath to make the audience and orchestra vanish and reappear at his will.”
- Canberra Times, May 2011

 

“The program is a display of what Fröst does well, which is just about everything. He makes himself at home at each genre – baroque and romantic, modern and postmodern, klezmer and jazz, country and rock, song and showpiece – and he plays it all with a clear timbre, amazing fingers, dazzling articulation, exquisite color changes, an occasional but tasteful vibrato, and most important of all, soul.” (Frost and Friends CD)
- American Record Guide, March/April 2011

 

The Sunday Telegraph, March 28th 2010, by John Allison:

Welcome touch of Frost

The hall’s lingering reputation for staidness was swept away onTuesday by the clarinettist Martin Frost,who had the audience singing along with his encore.

A very physical player, this Swedish virtuoso treats his instrument as almost an extension of his body.Not for him that fussing with reeds and mouthpieces: launching himself straight into the first of Lutoslawski’s excitable Dance Preludes,he showed that he means business.And the charismatic wizardry he brought to Poulenc’s Clarinet Sonata can seldom have been witnessed since Benny Goodman gave its posthumous premiere together with Leonard Bernstein.

Commanding a rare range of tonal colour,Frost was melting, nimble and witty in works by Debussy, Jean Francaix and Astor Piazzolla. His pianist, Roland Pontinen, had composed a coiling Danse Serpentine especially for this concert.Their warmly riotous medley on klezmer themes walked several musical tightropes at once, but the highlights were their brilliant yet soulful arrangements (after Joseph Joachim’s violin versions) of four Brahms Hungarian Dances.

 

Art Desk writes about Martin´s Wigmore recital in March 2010

It’s tempting to say that if Martin Fröst didn’t play the clarinet then he’d be an actor or a dancer. But he is an actor and a dancer and at one point during this scintillating recital he even sang, too – whilst playing the clarinet at the same time, of course. That’s a given. It’s an extension of his lissom body, and in his shiny grey silk suit and untucked shirt he looked decidedly feline. Ever heard a clarinet purr? Ever heard it yowl, scamper, hiss, scratch? Has anyone ever pulled so many colours from the old liquorice stick?
His programme with pianist Roland Pöntinen – adhering to Fröst like a second skin – was very much built around dance in its many guises. Witold Lutoslawski’s Dance Preludes alternated between the folksily frenetic and the sensuously soulful. We know that Fröst can articulate like a demon, his fingers a blur of hyperactivity, his head hunched forward ready to pounce or flung back in a kind of wild ecstasy. But then he’ll produce exquisite legatos on barely a breath of sound. The two Andantino movements of the Lutoslawski were sweet nothings whispered in our collective ears.

And what other clarinettist makes one think of gypsy fiddlers in the sheer panache of their pyrotechnics? He doesn’t articulate like a wind player but rather with the speedy audacity of a well-rosined bow on gut strings. He and Pöntinen pretty much out did Brahms’ muse Joachim with their lithe and beguiling take on four Hungarian Dances. But in between came Francis Poulenc’s divine Clarinet Sonata – a mix of cartoonish animation and jazzy small hours solitude. Fröst’s knees bent, his body twisted and turned seductively as he traced out the central Romanza in phrasing you could see as well as hear and feel. Absolute control and sheer poetry. The pianissimo return was miraculous.

The second half was yet more exotic. Debussy’s Première rhapsodie was a siren song, haunting and febrile, awash with decadent blue notes; Jean Françaix’s Tema con variazioni was louche and then circus-like with a cadenza which stretched dynamics like slapstick. And then it was tango time as a single note emerged on a slow crescendo from nothing (how does he do that?) and he and Pöntinen slunk into Astor Piazzolla’s Oblivion like the perfect dancing partners they are and moved in perfect symmetry to its aching pas de mort.

The Klezmer came last – a raucous and inevitable grand finale in which Fröst pulled out all the special effects he hadn’t yet deployed – the lewd glissandi, the slurs, the coarse gravelly overtones, the fluttery high-speed gallops. The familiar “knees-up” ditties came thick and fast, he and Pöntinen (again joint arrangers) coming on strong like a shambolic chorus line from the Yiddish Theatre.

And if you foolishly thought there was no following that, you won’t have reckoned upon his powers of persuasion to engage the entire audience in a chorus of the Bach/Gounod Ave Maria with his own limpid accompaniment. That was bizarre, to say the least, but no more, no less, than you would expect from Fröst. He is nothing if not a surreal experience, a true performance artist, as unpredictable as he is brilliant.

 

The Times writes about Martin´s Wigmore recital, March 2010

His virtuosity lies in his exceptional dexterity and agility — revealed immediately in the intricate dance rhythms of Lutoslawski’s 1954 Dance Preludes — and in his daring control of the instrument’s dynamic and expressive extremes. Poulenc’s Clarinet Sonata of 1962, the most substantial work of the evening, was torn between drollery and despair. Fröst’s body incarnated both the fragility of the silk-spun song of sadness at its heart and the coiled anger within the bittersweet outer movements.

Fröst’s regular recital partner, the pianist Roland Pöntinen, had a central solo spot of his own, and offered some nicely unpredictable moments with five Debussy Preludes. Pöntinen’s own Danse Serpentine was written specially for this Wigmore Hall premiere, and its eight minutes of curves and flurries were an artfully shaped showpiece for both performers as tone-colourists.

Either side of this new piece came the fantastical Tema con variazioni by Jean Françaix, and a sultry, drifting haze of tango in Fröst and Pöntinen’s reinvention of Piazzolla’s Oblivion. A wonderfully imaginative arrangement of Joachim’s own violin and piano version of Brahms’s Hungarian Dances earlier was balanced by the Klezmer grand finale: a virtuoso maelstrom of Hungarian and klezmer music.

 

Die Presse, March 2012

Konzerthaus: Klarinette mit Sex-Appeal

Die Wiener Symphoniker unter James Judd mit Martin Fröst. Die Klarinette ist nicht unbedingt das Instrument mit dem meisten
Sex-Appeal. Sie glänzt nicht so schön wie das Klavier, hat auch keine Rundungen wie Geige, Horn oder Cello. Mit dem richtigen Interpreten hat sie aber sehr wohl das Potenzial zum Superstar. Und der charismatische Schwede Martin Fröst ist ein solcher, wie er bei seinem Auftritt mit den Wiener Symphonikern unter James Judd beweist. Carl Maria von Webers erstes Klarinettenkonzert (f-moll) steht auf dem Programm: In dem opernhaft angelegten Werk kann Fröst das gesamte Spektrum seines Instruments zur Geltung bringen – vom Ariosen über das Tänzerische bis zum Virtuosen beeindruckt er mit differenzierter Intonation und eleganter Phrasierung. Dass seine Klarinette nicht nur singen kann, sondern auch hecheln, flüstern oder zwitschern, zeigt er bei einem Volkslied und bei einer Kadenz als Zugaben. Mit seiner Virtuosität und seiner einnehmenden Bühnenpräsenz ist Fröst der Beifallssturm seiner Zuhörer sicher.

 

Big success in Bregenz with Mozart Clarinet Concerto and Vienna symphony. Swedish clarinettist Martin Fröst appears like a snake charmer or faun from mythical times: slender, agile, like a dancer, and blessed with a stupendous technique, he makes Mozart’s well-known clarinet concerto a great experience. The way he shapes the sound, the way he differentiates dynamics…is truly unprecedented.”
- Neue Vorarlberger Tageszeitung, 29 July 2009

 

Als wär’s ein Zauberstab
Hamburg – Vorsicht! Die Klarinette trägt er nur zur Tarnung. Eigentlich ist Martin Fröst nämlich ein magischer Menschenflüsterer. So eine Art moderner Rattenfänger von Hameln.

Beweis Nummer eins: Zu seinem Kammerkonzert als “Artist in Residence” war der Kleine Saal der Laeiszhalle bestens gefüllt – obwohl fast ausschließlich moderne Musik ohne Ohrwurmverdacht auf dem Programm stand.

Beweis Nummer zwei: Mit Hillborgs “Peacock Tales” hat sich der Schwede sowieso als Schamane geoutet. Denn während wunderliche Sounds aus der Klarinette und den Boxen blubberten, vollführte er zur farbigen Lightshow eine eckige Tanzpantomime à la Breakdance-Geisterbeschwörer.
Und Beweis Nummer drei: Was der sympathische Schwede mit seinem Instrument anstellt, kann nicht mit rechten Dingen zugehen. Es singt, säuselt, ächzt, röchelt und zwitschert, als wär’s ein musikalischer Zauberstab. Zum Beispiel in Bartóks “Kontrasten” oder Saint-Saëns’ “Tarantella”, die Fröst zusammen mit der Flötistin Susanne Barner hochvirtuos von der Bühne blies. Sie war eine von fünf Symphonikern, die sich von der Musizierfreude des Gaststars anstecken ließen – auch wenn die Streicherkollegen in puncto Präzision und Bühnenpräsenz nicht immer ganz mithalten konnten, war ihnen der Spaß an der Virtuosität deutlich anzumerken.

Zum Ende gab’s dann noch zwei mitreißende Klezmer-Nummern. Nichts gegen den großen Giora Feidman – aber Fröst spielt noch mal in einer ganz anderen Liga. Irgendwo da oben nämlich, wo Normalsterbliche nicht hinkommen und die Gesetze der Physik offenbar aufgehoben sind.
Da müssen einfach übernatürliche Kräfte im Spiel sein. Und wir lassen uns gerne von ihnen einfangen.

 

Salzburg Succes – Achtzehntes gegen zwanzigstes Jahrhundert

Die Camerata Salzburg spielte mit dem Gastdirigenten Heinz Holliger und dem begeisternden Solisten Martin Fröst am Dienstag (27. 1.) vier gänzlich unterschiedliche Werke.

“Wenn Mozarts Musik der Musik der Gegenwart begegnet, kann durch das Aufeinandertreffen der musikalischen Sprachen ein neues, offeneres, aufmerksameres Hören entstehen.” So das wieder einmal so fabelhaft formulierte Credo des künstlerischen Leiters der “Stiftung”, Stephan Pauly. Wohlgemerkt: “kann”, nicht “muss”. Diesmal jedenfalls dünkte die Programmierung so zufällig wie nur irgend möglich. Auf den kleinsten gemeinsamen Nenner gebracht, lautete sie einfach: 18. gegen 20. Jahrhundert.

Nichts gegen Ravels “Le Tombeau de Couperin”. Dessen vier Sätze lieferten jedoch nichts mehr als einen weiteren Beleg für das grandiose Können aller Mitglieder der Camerata Salzburg, die Gastdirigent Heinz Holliger behutsam beförderte. Nahezu unübertreffbar jedenfalls die subtile Mischung der Klangfarben innerhalb der Holzbläsergruppe. Oboist Christian Hommel verdiente sich absolut den Vorhang._ _Beglückend und absoluter Höhepunkt des Konzerts war dann aber doch “das” Klarinettenkonzert seit jeher, jenes in A-Dur KV 622. Ausgeführt in der rekonstruierten Originalgestalt für Bassettinstrument. Schon vom ersten Tutti-Einstieg an wurde endlich einmal bekundet, dass es sich dabei mitnichten um ein rundum elegisch verklärtes Spätwerk handle. In der Interpretation durch Martin Fröst wurde jeglicher Gedanke daran verscheucht, dass das Leben seines Urhebers unvermutet bald nach der Komposition dieses Konzerts enden sollte und das Wissen darum sich in den Noten spiegle.

Spritzig, gelegentlich mit fast schon ungebärdig gestoßenen Tonfolgen im tiefen Register, “gewürzt” durch kongeniale zusätzliche Einstiege und genauso “übermütig” ins Rondo einleitend: So musizierte der jugendliche Solist. Ihm ist auch das Kunststück gelungen, in der gelegentlich leicht variierten Kantilene des Binnensatzes sein phänomenales Legato so im Pianissimo verhauchen zu lassen, so dass das Auditorium in atemloser Stille verharrte. Stürmische Ovationen logischerweise, für die sich Martin Fröst mit einer kurzen und genauso kurzweilig virtuosen Improvisation über die Notenfolge B-A-C-H bedankte.

Wie charakteristisch ist das 1996 entstandene Klarinettenkonzert, also ein Alterswerk von Elliot Carter, wirklich charakteristisch für den New Yorker, dem im Vorjahr die Gnade des Erlebens seines 100. Geburtstags zuteil wurde? Lassen sich in Carters Schaffen doch durchaus verschiedene stilistische Perioden ausmachen. Die dem Werk zugrunde liegende Idee, den Solisten jeweils mit weiträumig verstreut postierten Klanggruppen in Dialog treten zu lassen, verpuffte durch die kleinen Dimension des Podiums. Martin Fröst, nahezu ununterbrochen gefordert, stand lediglich entweder links oder rechts von Heinz Holliger. Diesel, wee rewound eon verlässlicher Sachwalter für Neue Musik, koordinierte aufmerksam zwischen Streichquintett, Klavier, den allesamt genauso solistisch besetzten Holz- und Blechbläsern sowie den drei Schlagwerkern dahinter.
- Von Horst Reischenböck

 

Beyond all clarinet history in Munic

Standing Raving Stamping and Screming – Martins various challenging projects trough the years have been many, and the latest is B:A:C:H which is now in high demand throughout Europe.

It is not a “play it safe-project”, rather a walk on the wild side. A podium with a traditional piano player in the classical room, an electric cello player in the street music area with the clarinet floating between the two worlds making a surprising fusion.
- Read what the Critic said at the last B:A:C:H concert.

 

Martin Frost – Ein Rattenfänger

Dass er ein begnadeter Klarinettist ist, wussten Fans seines Mozart-, Weber- oder Brahms-Spiels schon lange. Doch Martin Fröst zeigte beim Programm im Prinzregententheater mit dem doppelsinnigen Motto “B-A-C-H: Beyond All Clarinet History”, dass der Auftritt mit 22 Jahren in der Titelrolle von Wilfried Hillers “Der Rattenfänger” schöne Früchte trägt: Denn der blonde 38-jährige Schwede ist ein Multitalent. Er kann nicht nur auf seinem Instrument singen und zärtlich parlieren wie kaum ein anderer, sondern er vermag – hochgewachsen und schlank wie er ist – sogar zu tanze

So war das siebzigminütige pausenlose Programm die Performance eines wahren Rattenfängers, der mit seinem Instrument verführen und verzaubern kann, egal ob er mit seinen kongenialen Kollegen Roland Pöntinen am Flügel und dem Cellisten Svante Henryson kühne, aber feine Metamorphosen auf verschiedene Werke Bachs spielt oder durch die Musikgeschichte wandelt. “Invisible Duet” nennt sich die audiovisuelle narzisstische Spiegelung seines real tanzenden Körpers und Klarinettenspiels in der Vervielfachung durch sich verwandelnde Vexierbilder auf dem eisernen Vorhang. “Peacock Tales” dagegen ist das wunderbare Solo eines musikalischen Pfaus mit entsprechender Bewegung und Maske, dargeboten mit ebensoviel Selbstbewusstsein wie ironischer Distanz zum eigenen Tun – der unverhohlenen Selbstbespiegelung.

Auch Roland Pöntinen brilliert mit zwei Soli, der sanften Instrumentalversion der Arie “Schafe müssen sicher weiden” und einer virtuosen Rachmaninow-Bearbeitung der Bachschen E-Dur-Partita, ebenso Svante Henryson, der sein Cello mal süß wie eine Geige spielt, mal herb wie einen E-Bass zupft. Aber das eigentliche Ereignis des Abends ist das subtile Zusammenspiel der drei Musiker: Wie sie Bach in Jazz verfließen lassen, zu Countrymusic oder Klezmer verfestigen und sich dabei auf wundersame Weise wie ein musikalischer Körper bewegen. Wenn am Ende nach einem frechen Medley Bachs “Jesu bleibet meine Freude”, immer wieder anders getönt auf die drei Instrumente verteilt erklingt, ist das Glück über die vergangene Stunde ebenso groß wie der Beifall dafür.
- Klaus Kalchschmid

 

Martin Fröst triumphs in the Royal Albert Hall

After his praised performance of the Mozart Clarinet Concerto with the Academy of St Martin in the Fields within the frame of the London Mostly Mozart Festival in the Barbican a few weeks ago, Martin Fröst returned to London last week to team up with the Göteborg Symphony Orchestra under Gustavo Dudamel in the Royal Albert Hall.

An audience of 6.000 went wild with enthusiasm at the London Proms concert in the Royal Albert Hall last week where Martin Fröst and the Göteborg Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Gustavo Dudamel, gave the Brittish premiere of Anders Hillborgs clarinet concerto “Peacock Tales”. Martin Fröst celebrates the 10 year anniversary with this spectacular piece which is written specially for him and contains elements of mime, choreography and light effects. The London performance was part of tour with the Göteborg Symphony Orchestra including Germany and other UK performances. Everywhere Martin Fröst and the Peacock Tales received the same deleighted reactions from the audiences and the press. Some quotes from the London press:…

Martin Fröst isn’t just a knock-out clarinettist, he’s an accomplished mime, too. Masked and unmasked like some capricious imp, he balletically twitched and twirled his way through the piece as though he were there both to play and to sabotage it. His clarinet was brandished like an additional limb emitting banshee-like pyrotechnics on a zillion glissandi. On a couple of occasions, Fröst’s Petrushka-like alter ego blocked his ears in protest. I can’t say I blamed him. Without the performance element, musical interest would never have sustained 30 minutes.
- The Independent

Martin Fröst, who not only played the UK premiere of Anders Hillborg’s Clarinet Concerto (Peacock Tales), but also danced it – in a mask, while the stage lighting flickered from lurid red to moody blue to mellow yellow. He’s an astonishing performer. His choreographic efforts – a mixture of Bob Fosse, Marcel Marceau and Michael Jackson in his moonwalk phase – are almost as nimble as his clarinet playing. And the concerto, which required the excellent orchestra to hum chords as well as play them, is a series of brilliantly etched moods – reflective, virtuosic, sinister or exhausted.
-The Times

Intermezzo
But there had already been one encore. This came at the end of the first half. Martin Fröst’s staggeringly virtuosic reading of Hillborg’s (he turned up at the end to take a bow) Clarinet Concerto (complete with masked dance-mime and spooky lighting) was followed by a klezmer-style arrangement that showed off his skills in yet another light. Is he the best clarinettist in the world right now? Probably.

 

Fröst is a master of his instrument, excelling in the fiendish pyrotechnics of Hillborg’s writing; Fröst’s encore – a Klezmer tune called “Let’s be happy” – was an enjoyable showcase played with invigorating raw passion.
- Classicalssource.com

 

Between those repertory works came the UK premiere of Anders Hillborg’s clarinet concerto, Peacock Tales. Written for the clarinettist Martin Fröst, it is a semi-theatrical piece that requires the soloist to don a mask and prance about the stage miming, as well as meeting some formidable technical challenges. Hillborg’s music is engaging enough, and Fröst carried it all off with aplomb.
- The Guardian

 

Hillborg’s score is full of originality, ranging from gentle lyricism to bluesy swing and angular modernity. Fröst was instrumental in the inclusion of an element of mime and performed it with total virtuosity, often resembling a sort of demonic Pied Piper. It was all simply but tellingly lit, yet while the importance of colour’s relationship with music has been highlighted as an inevitable feature of the synaesthetic Messiaen’s anniversary, the way musicians move is rarely openly discussed, despite the fact that in a live event it can have an important effect on the audience’s reception of a performance. While Dudamel’s own naturally balletic movement on the podium was a constant additional source of pleasure throughout the concert, Fröst and Hillborg’s more explicit exploration of the relationship was highly entertaining, as well as thought-provoking. The same freedom of movement was carried into Fröst’s encore, a Klezmer arrangement in which the expressive capabilities of the clarinet were pushed to the extremes, to wonderful effect.
- Classicalssource.com

 

Review highlights from the tour in the US with Mitsuko Uchida
2008-05-15 | Fröst has just returned from a sensational tour in the US with Mitsuko Uchida,Christian Pultera and Sovin Kim. which included Philadelphia and New York (Carnegie Hall).

KALAMAZOO GAZETTE – C.J. Gianakaris
Kim proved himself a fine violinist as the evening continued. In “Piheno (Relaxation)” from “Contrasts,” he was often pitted against Frost, a marvelous clarinetist. What became clear in “Sebes: Fast Dance” was the intense ardor of both in performing Bartok, masterfully capturing Bartok’s unique voice.

But it was Messiaen’s grand work “Quatuor pour la fin du temps (Quartet for the end of time)” the large audience was awaiting. The quartet here included Kim, Frost, cellist Poltera and pianist Uchida. Ultimately, their persuasive playing reflected full immersion in Messiaen’s cosmos and language. Each time one hears this work, more of its merits emerge. Of its eight sections, several especially deserve attention. The “Abime des oiseaux (Abyss of the birds)” featured extraordinary clarinet playing by Frost. His heart-rending, sad melodic lines were haunting. Part of that effect resulted from a half-dozen swells — passages he started triple piano and gradually swelled into erupting fortissimos. A tour de force.

PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER – Lesley Valdes
The clarinet part was taken by Martin Fröst, a charismatic Swede. His solo, “Abyss of the Birds,” moves from triple pianissimos to quadruple fortes with intense, awesome control.
The clarinetist showed another side of his virtuosity in Bartok’s Contrasts, composed in 1938 for Benny Goodman and violinist Joseph Szigeti. Fröst, Kim and English pianist Llyr Williams, poised and stalwart, made a good team.

CLASSICSTODAY – Dan Davis (Carnegie Hall concert)
Mr. Frost was stunning in his third movement solo. “Abyss of the Birds,” producing slow-moving crescendos that began in the barely audible range and ended in siren-like intensity.

Sensational final of Martin Fröst´s residency in Stockholm concert house

2008-05-05 | Martin Fröst, “Artist in Residence” with the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic, sold out full houses this spring. The residency was concluded with an exquisite “all Mozart project” where Martin was conducting and playing a programme which included the Gran Partita and the Clarinet concerto. In this delightful programme Martin was allowed to explore his relationship to Mozart in depth. The performance received standing ovations in a packed Concert Hall and was particularly appreciated by the enthusiastic members of the orchestra.

This final concert was preceded by a performance of Martin’s spectacular B-A-C-H “Beyond All Clarinet History” programme, a breathtaking event which was televised by the Swedish Television.

The first concert in the series was a collaboration with Vladimir Ashkenazy and the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic, in which Martin performed Nielsen’s Clarinet Concerto in Stockholm and made an outstanding tour to Athens.

This is what the press said:

“Standing ovations were the reward for a well composed unity with often astonishingly virtuoso contributions.” Lars Hedblad SvD

“Fröst planted a milestone in the performance history of the Nielsen concerto.” SVD

“Martin Fröst´s ambition was to restore the concerto´s virginal state of untroubled play – and he stuck to this point of view throughout, judging from the extra long final note.”

“After having planted this milestone in the performance history of this concerto, Fröst let the wildly excited audience have the taste of the shimmering colour effects the lay waiting to be released from his wooden black tube in a cadenza of his own.” Carl Gunnar Åhlen SVD

This autumn, Martin Fröst will bring similar programmes to a new residency with the Hamburger Symphoniker, where he will play Nielsen’s concerto, perform his BACH project and start out playing and conducting the Mozart programme with the Hamburger Symphoniker.

Fröst has just returned from a sensational tour in the US with Mitsuko Uchida,Christian Pultera and Sovin Kim. which included Philadelphia and New York (Carnegie Hall).

CLASSICSTODAY.COM´S 2007 BEST OF THE YEAR
C.M.von Weber  Clarinet  concertos
Fröst just may be the finestclarinetist alive, and this entire production is typical of what wehave come to expect from BIS: stunning sonics, high artistic standards,and intelligent repertoire selection. There is no more exciting label around today. 

Wonderland in dead of winter
By George Loomis
Published: February 19 2008 18:06

Everyone who seeks to establish a music festival should have the good fortune of Karin Switz. Appointed executive director of the Dala Sinfonietta, a chamber orchestra in the central Swedish province of Dalarna, she concluded that a music festival would help promote the ensemble’s artistic growth. Soon she received word that the dynamic young Swedish clarinetist Martin Fröst was interested in supplying artistic leadership for a new festival, and accordingly Vinterfest was born. “My lucky star was burning,” said Switz after the final concert of the second annual festival last weekend.

Borrowing a page from the Roros festival in Norway, Switz decided to hold the festival in the dead of winter, though winter is hardly a dead time in Dalarna, given its reputation as a winter sport centre. And though the Sinfonietta was the impetus behind the festival, Vinterfest is, like Roros, essentially a chamber music event.

Those familiar with Fröst’s artistry can understand the level of talent he attracts to the villages of Dalarna, which this time included the violinist Janine Jansen and the contralto Anna Larsson, the latter a Dalarna native. “He is probably the world’s leading clarinetist,” says Hakan Hagegard, the renowned baritone who has retired from singing but serves as elder statesman for the festival and supplies introductions to the concerts.

With 14 concerts crammed into four days, Vinterfest has the intensity and high quality, if not the length, of the Kuhmo chamber music festival in northern Finland, but it offers much more in the way of amenities. In keeping with the orchestra’s status as a regional ensemble, concerts take place in different villages; this means that Vinterfest lacks the convenience of having everything within walking distance, but it propels one into the countryside to a variety of inviting venues.

An especially choice one is the log hotel in Fryksas, with its panoramic views of Lake Orsa. There, at a 9.00am breakfast concert on Sunday, Fröst and Jansen together with Maxim Rysanov (viola) and Torleif Thédeen (cello) held forth with a searing account of the Penderecki Clarinet Quartet, led off by Fröst’s riveting playing in the bleak first movement. Jansen and Rysanov also gave a stunning performance of Martinu’s Three Madrigals for Violin and Viola, in which Martinu leavens his tense mode of expression with recourse to folk-like melody.

A concert in the Alfdalen Church, beautifully lit to emphasise its 18th-century elegance, featured the Sinfonietta and its new conductor, the Norwegian Bjarte Engeset, who has recorded extensively for Naxos. They caught the pastoral mood of Vintersaga by Lars-Erik Larsson, a popular Swedish composer whose centenary is celebrated this year, and gave a strong account of the young Bulgarian-born Dobrinka Tabakova’s colourfully eclectic The Court Jester Amareu – Suite in Old Style, in which a harpsichord contributed to an antique atmosphere but much of the discourse was post-Romantic. Jansen, Thédeen and pianist Silke Avenhaus gave a rhythmically bracing account of Dvorák’s “Dumky” Piano Trio No 4 in E minor, op 90.

Fröst’s programming emphasises interesting repertoire rather than an overarching theme, but a concert near Mora, Dalarna’s largest city, focused on the ménage à trois of Robert and Clara Schumann and the young Brahms. Larsson’s deep contralto brought three songs by Clara to life, including the hauntingly beautiful “Sie liebten sich beide” to a text by Heine; if it was eclipsed by Brahms’s sublime “Sapphische Ode”, heard later, so too are most of Brahms’s other songs. Violist Rysanov offered a fine account of Robert’s Märchenbilder, op 73, in which the simple echt Romantic melody of the final movement proved especially effective. On her own the brilliant pianist Avenhaus, who did yeoman work throughout the concert, articulated a case for Clara’s expressive but rather heavy Romance in A minor, op 25.

Woody’s – the local equivalent of Home Depot – was the site for a concert by Christian Lindberg, perhaps the world’s leading trombonist and certainly the most flamboyant. In an atmospherically lit hall of the store, Lindberg placed himself in the composer-performer tradition with three of his own works emphasising virtuosic showmanship. The wind quintet Déjâ connu by another contemporary Swede, Bo Nilsson, proved more conventional but more polished, while the most intriguing work was Jan Sandström’s Cantos de la Mancha for trombone and tape, a dramatisation of four episodes from the saga of Don Quixote dedicated to Lindberg.

I hated to leave during the eloquent second movement, but wanted to hear Messiaen’s Quartet for the End of Time, in which Fröst, Thédeen and Avenhaus were joined by the Finnish violinist Pekka Kuusisto. Fröst’s capacity for shading, including an uncanny ability to produce a tone that grows almost imperceptively out of silence, lent spirituality to the “Abîme des oiseaux” movement, while Thédeen’s playing in “Louage à l’éternité de Jésus” was likewise deeply felt. Kuusisto had more difficulty holding the discursive final movement together.

Lindberg returned for the final concert, in the Mora Church, with his brash and brassy Mandrake in the Corner, an exhilarating, in-your-face concerto in three movements; Svante Henryson’s breezy Vinterfest Overture was also heard, in its world premiere. Otherwise, it was Schubert and Mozart, including the irresistible “Der Hirt auf dem Felsen”, in which Fröst was joined by Barbara Hendricks, whose lyric soprano is beginning to fade but still gives pleasure; Schubert’s piano part was replaced by a nondescript orchestration by Carl Reinecke.

The orchestra under Engeset played agreeably in the Ballet Music from Idomeneo, and the festival closed with Mozart’s captivating Sinfonia Concertante in E flat for Violin and Viola, K 364, which found Jansen and Rysanov on stellar form. The attentive, enthusiastic audience understandably hated to see the evening end. It is composed mainly of local Swedes, but as word of Vinterfest gets out, the audience is bound to become more diverse.

 

Martin Fröst´s outstanding success playing Mozart at the Salzburg Festival

2007-09-27 | Sensational debut at the Salzburg festival.

 

Martin Fröst plays Mozart’s concerto with the Mozarteum orchestra and Giovanni Antonini, renewing the acquaintance with this conductor after their successful collaboration in the Musikverein in Vienna. Martin Fröst was immediately reinvited to take part in several projects at the “Salzburg Festspiele” and “Mozart Woche”.

 

 

“Constantly listening to his colleagues with one ear, he blended his instrument smoothly into the sound of the orchestra, while at the same time giving sound of the the clarinet sufficient weight to fulfil his role as the soloist and leader.

 

Impressive not only the agility, with which the Swede threw himself into the fast movements, but especially the sensitively shaped Adagio, which provided a moment of contemplative calm in this otherwise turbulent matinee programme.”

 

Salzburger Nachrichten, 27 August 2007

”The Swede revealed himself as a sound magician…
the hall was raving and the orchestra was at Fröst´s feet!

Martin Fröst receives enthusiastic reviews in the German press for his performance with the radio orchestra in Saarbrucken,broadcast by both French and German TV.

“In Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto, the young soloist Martin Fröst offered a rare mixture of stage presence and intensity of the musical performance. The Swede revealed himself as a sound magician with a stunning pianissimo. He drew nuances from the work that one didn’t know even existed.
After three encores with the RSO strings, the hall was raving and the orchestra was at Fröst’s feet!”

Saarbrücker Zeitung 9 July 2007

Fröst receives rave reviews for his first composition at Amsterdam Concertgebouw.

Martin Fröst´s performance Voices and Wings, including his own compositions, receives rave reviews from the performance at Amsterdam Concertgebouw:

“Fröst warmed up his unsuspecting audience with a vibrant performance of Schumann’s Fantasiestücke Op. 73, but as soon as he had caused the temperature of the auditorium to rise, he changed his focus … A pirouette served as the upbeat to a staggering clarinet solo, a bird’s mask added a ghostly dimension to Peacock Tales by
Anders Hillborg.

In his concert programmes he reveals himself as a post-modern artist who chooses what he likes and re-casts it in a shape of his own. His own composition, On the Wing, commissioned by the Amsterdam Concertgebouw, was inspired by a film by Akira Kurosawa. With a wealth of harmonics and suggestive clatterings produced with the keys of the instrument, he soared away above the rest of the birds in the programme. His own language is closely associated with his instrument, but he has expanded the vocabulary with recorded scraps of Jaco Pastorius’s bass, beats from pop music, Olivier Messiaen’s ornithological discoveries and Bach’s keyboard works.

Even more interesting is the fact that through his uninhibited choices he condensed the programme of this evening into a cell containing the DNA of the concert. Schumann was aligned with the Swede Fredrik Högberg, with Messiaen and Hillborg; and all these inventors of sounds, young and old alike, came out of it as beneficiaries. Schumann felt fresher, and even more poetic, and the young composers showed us where their roots can be found.

Never has a mixed audience applauded more abundantly for contemporary music.”

Martin in Hamburg

The Hamburg LaeiszHalle hooks on the trend of residency bookings for Martin Fröst, emanating from the promoter’s wish to present “Martin Fröst Profiles” by giving the audience the full spectrum of this versatile musician’s artistry, as soloist with orchestra, as recitalist, and as chamber musican.

“Copland’s clarinet concerto needs a soloist that is able to move effortless between the soundscapes of both the Old and the New World, between classical and popular musical idioms. Martin Fröst took on the challenge with the Hamburg Symphony Orchestra in the Laeiszhalle, and he must be considered the ideal wanderer between those worlds.

Even his appearance – with black trousers, collar unbuttoned and a white dinner jacket – was already an indication that he did not intend to walk the usual, worn-out paths.

The work starts slowly and expressively in a rather classical manner. Blissful sounds evoke a sunny America…, which Martin Fröst painted with an endless, whispering stream of sound. …. This magical music is followed by a solo cadenza in which the soloist brought out much dynamic detail, and found the balance between natural sounds and the jazz idiom. In the syncopated stretta ending, he amalgamated European classical tradition with a genuinely American idiom with charismatic effortlessness – the austere and the untamed in a playfully accomplished unity.”

Die Welt 26 June 07

“the borderline between text and music is completely erased”

Martin Fröst once again exploring the boarderlines of classical music in a new clarinet Concerto by S-D Sandström.

In this international co-commission, Martin Fröst´s collaboration with the celebrated Swedish composer resulted in a very successful new concept intergrating text and music. Read what the press said:

“This violent and ambiguous text (Gunnar Ekelöf “En Mölna Elegi”) has been set to music by Sandström in the most captivating intuitive way for a Mozart-size orchestra. Sometimes feverish and irascible, sometimes picturesque and Mahlerian. The incomparable soloist Martin Fröst has received a part to both read and play and he does this in such an organic and unforced way that the borderline between text and music is completely erased as is the borderline between soloist and orchestra…”
Expressen Maj 07

Voices and Wings Recital
San Francisco, 22 March 2007

The Unbearable Lightness of Music
To say we heard Martin Fröst play the clarinet at San Francisco’s Herbst Theatre on Thursday would be an understatement. We came to see his San Francisco Performances debut, and in return he made us see how music can defy gravity.

Fröst is a virtuoso with the instrument, and his sound, always miraculously well-tuned, can soar effortlessly and beautifully, thanks in part to a gently stifled tone that, over inhuman stretches, is unbroken by audible breathing. But with Fröst, seeing, not just hearing, is believing. His body is in constant motion, punctuating musical points, staying light on the feet while doing things only the agile and athletic attempt. He can mime; he can moonwalk; he can swivel on a feather. With such movements Fröst attempts an innovative integration of sight and sound in his updating of contemporary as well as older fare …

Often the unbroken flow of the music proved intense. Indeed, the entire program seemed designed to maximize flow, nearly without pause from composer to composer, as if music was never meant to alight. The seamless sets drew together pieces that spanned the ages, alternating Schumann character pieces and song transcriptions with various newer pieces on bird themes.
(Jeff Rosenfeld, San Francisco Classical Voice – www.sfcv.org, March 2007)

Vinterfest
14 – 18 February 2007: 

Martin Fröst, who is one of the few internationally sought after solo clarinettists … has just made his debut as artistic director. It is easy to predict that future concerts will have his particular stamp of programming and this festival already bore the evidence with guest artists such as trumpeter Håkan Hardenberger, pianist Roland Pötinen, folksinger Lena Willmark, who originates from Dalarna, and the maverick Svante Henryson …

Fröst is a fascinating clarinettist, with a flawless technique, which hardly anyone can match in pianissimo passages. The opening three notes at the start of the Mozart Clarinet Quintet KV 581 came literally out of nothing, and one asked oneself how such a legato is possible, that neither the musician’s breathing nor the sounds of the instrument’s lids disturbed the musical flow … The extent of Fröst talents as not only an excellent clarinetist but also a connoisseur of avant garde sound installations became clear in the premiere of “Beyond all Clarinet History”, a crazy collage of works that Fröst enriched with panic-stricken choreography, demonstrating him as an original dancer.
(Wolfgang Sandner, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, February 2007)

A sure success in the snow
It is a crystal clear winter’s morning on the hotel veranda at Fryksås. Below you can see the snow filled landscape which stretches to the shore of the frozen Lake Siljan and beyond to the mountains leading to Norway … Vinterfest, which takes place in Mora, Orsa and Älvdalen, is Sweden’s only winter chamber music festival and, in just its second year it has Martin Fröst as its new artistic director. In character it is a typical summer festival with its relaxed atmosphere, its own mix of repertoire, its international line up of musicians and its rather unusual venues for classical music …
I heard the the Dalasinfoniettan’s concert where the public nearly exploded with alacrtiy in Ävldalen’s church and the Norwegian percurssionist Hans-Kristian Kjos Sörenson’s surreal performance amid the amazed skiers at Grönklitt. But I really began to understand the nature of the festival when I went to Saturday night’s concert in the car testing centre in Mora where Martin Fröst had his own show “Beyond all clarinet history.” Together with the rest of the public we were confronted by blinking digital lights which requested us to leave our car doors open and to put the warning triangles out … Joining in the performance with Fröst were Roland Pöntinen on the piano, Svante Henryson on electric cello and Hans-Kristian Kjos Sörensen on drumset. It was an ensemble which for this evening one should rather call a “band” as, like nightly intruders they sneaked in and out of Bach´s music, bewildering, astonishing and bewitching in amazing remixes of famous partitas, sonatas and sinfonias. And in a suggestive interplay with music of today: techno, funk and explosive modernism by composers like Fredrik Högberg and Anders Hillborg were all combined.

The last number in the car testing hall was a three-part arrangement of “Ave Maria“ where Roland Pöntinen´s crystal clear piano voice was intervowen with Svante Henrysons glowing cello tone and Martin Fröst´s deepsea-gurgling clarinet. Hardly a prayer to avoid a driving ban. Never before have visitors of this kind of an establishment been more unwilling to drive away.

Vinterfest in Mora, Orsa and Älvdalen is now over for this year. But the view is likely to remain as is the artistic wilfulness, so don´t miss the chance next year to join in.
(Martin Nyström, Dagens Nyhter, February 2007)

I’ve just returned from the “Vinterfest” in Mora, Sweden where a brand new festival has just wrapped up for the year. The new artistic director, clarinettist Martin Fröst, drew on his extensive blackbook to persuade Håkan Hardenberger, Christian Poltéra, Roland Pöntinen et al to provide the the area with some incredible concerts over four days. Recitals were completely sold out and the atmosphere at each event was one of excitement and anticipation.
(Oliver Condy, BBC Music Magazine, March 2007)

Kalevi Aho Clarinet Concerto: Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra / Leif Segerstam
Scandinavian Premiere, Berwaldhallen, Stockholm 8 & 9 December 2006: 

Fröst med Trollklarinetten Flyger på Finska
Berwaldhallen var uppskjutningplatsen. För Martin Fröst och Kalevi Ahos
Klarinettkonsert.I fem satser utan pausInramad av böljande Brahms och Sjöarnas Sibelius. Fullsatt. Berwalhaldhallen förvandlades till en fullriggare i alla tonarter. Ett jublande fartyg med fläktande
finska fanor.

I synnerhet den första och sista av dom fem satserna är vågsvall som vänder upp och ner på alla tankar om vad en klarinett kan göra. Martin Fröst tänjer instrumentets möjligheter ungefär som Hendrix gjorde med elektrisk gitarr. Martin flyger ofta in i orkestern med klarinettensom perforerande pensel. Det är som han målade upp hela scenen – som om orkestern lyder honom och fullföljer en cinerama-målning. Gränser tänjs. För vad hans instrument kan göra och också mellan Fröst och Sveriges Radios Symfoniorkester.

Tonerna vandrar vidare genom en skog av instrument. Leif Segerstam stod som enallsmäktig patriark med gammaltestamentligt skägg och framtoning. Frodig och fylld av det finska brusmiraklet höll han musikens evangelium i himmelskt schack … Publiken stod upp. Publiken ropade, applåderade så det lät som inomhusåska, ville aldrig låta Fröst lämna scenen. Musik som denna är en nåd att få uppleva på plats. Få är så fysiskt förenade med sitt instrument som Fröst. Klarinett som kraftprov . Det närmar sig musikalisk akrobatik. Martin har beställt stycket av Kalevi Aho – efter att ha fått ett stort pris använde han pengarna till att låta ny musik födas. Resultatet blev denna klarinettkonsert – skriven för Fröst av Aho. En gåva. Till hela världens musikälskare. Konserten är musik i gränsland. Välkommen till den NYA MUSIKEN. Fylld av färger och läten som flyger från frenesins fasa till fullkomlig frid.
(Kjell Alinge, SVT Radio,12 December 2006)

Martin Fröst hittar en mening i varje fras
Martin Fröst kräver större golvyta än vanliga klarinettister, för han spelar även med fötterna. Detta att frambringa en ton – som tycks stiga upp från fotknölarna för att sedan ge order till övriga delar av kroppen, vars rörelser tvingar lyssnaren att aldrig släppa blicken – är genialt både som demagogi och affärsidé. Att han sedan är en lysande musiker som hittar en mening bakom varje fras, förutom virtuositeten som lekande lätt förvandlar ett pianissimo till en liten märgkula som svävar på en luftstråle, visar att uppmärksamheten bara gör honom gott. Det är ingen tillfällighet att performance-artisten Fröst beställt en konsert just av finländaren Kalevi Aho. Fastän det är länge sedan denne tog politisk ställning i sin musik, kvarstår hans dialektiska sinnelag i det att han här iscensätter en maktkamp mellan solisten och orkestern, vilka provocerar varandra å det grövsta. Efter en totalkonflikt, som kan uppfattas som dramats peripeti, inträder känslan av ett “efteråt”. Gamla idéer återkommer förvridna men mindre aggressiva. Det avslutande gongslaget markerar en tillfällig försoning.
(Carol-Gunnar Åhlén, Svenska Dagbladet, 10 December 2006)

Höstfärgade klanger
Vid fredagens konsert i Berwaldhallen var det dock många unga i publiken. Anledningen? Martin Fröst! Med en sällsynt kombination av suveränt kontrollerat artisteri och en utåtriktad spelstil har han attraherat stora lyssnargrupper. Också i ett så seriöst, för att inte säga tungsint, anlagt verk som Kalevi Ahos klarinettkonsert fängslar han en blandad publik. Ahos konsert, som fick sin urpremiär i London i våras, är i likhet med flera av hans andra solokonserter närmast symfoniskt anlagd med en dynamisk bredd och formell djärvhet som är ovanlig i dessa sammanhang. Allvaret kan man inte missta sig på, men ibland är det snarare strukturen än de ingående idéerna som imponerar. Hur slitstark klarinettkonserten är återstår att se; man hör den hur som helst gärna igen.
(Thomas Anderberg, Dagens Nyheter, 10 December 2006)

Mozart Clarinet Quintet: Jerusalem Quartet
Wigmore Hall, 13 November October 2006: 

It was standing room only in the Wigmore Hall … Joining the Jerusalem (Quartet) for Mozart’s Clarinet Quintet was Martin Fröst, himself a burgeoning young virtuoso who premiered Kalevi Aho’s Concerto in April this year. For the quintet he sat slightly further forward than his accomplices but was aloof in position only, the communication among the five clearly in evidence.

After the sunny, hymn-like opening from the quartet, the clarinet and strings played up their more dramatic exchanges in the first movement’s development, each phrase given great care and attention. Even when Fröst was merely supplying decorative counterpoint, his tone was never less than beautiful, while the strings brought a bright texture even to the darker first Trio that contrasts with the third-movement Minuet, sensitively holding back for the clarinet’s return.

Fröst came into his own in the serene slow movement, finding a pure, hushed tone, and in the contrasting variations with which a playful Mozart ends the work. These were a delight, particularly Amihai Grosz’s soft-toned viola contribution to the third one and the game-play between first violinist Alexander Pavlovsky and Fröst as they sought to outdo each other in the fourth. It was an honourable draw, but Fröst’s cantabile in the following variation typified a wonderfully sculpted closing movement.
(www.classicalsource.com)

Mozart Clarinet Concerto: Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra / Mario Venzago
5 October 2006: 

Most probably he could perform it in his sleep. But Martin Fröst has a truly individual way of playing the Mozart clarinet concerto, allowing the music to present itself in a wholly personal manner. Indeed, it is almost as if the work had been written specifically for him. Taken together, the velvety sound, the unforced singing quality and the Pierrot-like playfulness create a tremendous intimacy and somehow washes the score clean.

The solo passage in the second movement, where the sound of the lonely clarinet imperceptibly merges into the string accompaniment, makes the music open up into an inner cosmos. The same applies to the unexpected pause in the finale, where the cascades of notes stop, in order to take off again. In Martin Fröst’s playing there is a density in the energies, but also a kind of shyness, and maybe it is this quality that saves the clarinet concerto from becoming merely idyllic and beautiful of sound. As the minor moods appear, adding shadings to the beauty, the interpretation deepens and the virtuoso aspect is coupled with a melancholy tinge. It is truly wonderful playing.
(Magnus Haglund, Göteborg Posten, October 2006)

Stunning technique, perfect intonation and visible commitment … The clarinettist Martin Fröst brought a full-to-capacity hall to its feet when he performed Mozart’s clarinet concerto.
(Skaraborgs Läns Tidning, October 2006)

Mozart Clarinet Concerto: Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra / Manfred Honeck
Opening Concert of the Baltic Sea Festival, 20 August 2006: 

STOCKHOLM — The Baltic Sea Festival is a combustible mix …A major international festival in this part of the world is long overdue. Fueled by the likes of Salonen, Gergiev and Järvi, a stream of prolific musical talent is emerging from Scandinavia and the Baltic countries. The adulation with which Swedish clarinetist Martin Fröst was received at the Aug. 20 opening concert underscored that fact. The tall, 36-year-old blond has captured attention by incorporating choreography and mime into his performances (including a celebrated telecast with
Swedish mezzo Malena Ernman) but visual showmanship had little to do with his sublime reading of the Mozart Clarinet Concerto.

For added historical resonance, Fröst performed on the basset clarinet, as the work was originally conceived. If “virtuosic” can be applied to phrasing, it fit Frost’s first solo passage, whose shapeliness was almost startling. Low notes were dusky and distinct, and soft passages had a rose-petal quality, so lightly did he touch them. The Adagio was a heavenly excursion, and Fröst topped off the work with a light, cheery
Rondo/Allegro. His encore, Eden Ahbez’ “Nature Boy” (reference Baz Luhrmann’s “Moulin Rouge”), a jazzy number spun out over a cello’s pedal D, kept the noisy ovation coming.
(Mary Ellyn Hutton, MusicalAmerica.com, 8 September 2006)

When Martin Fröst lets his clarinet sound in Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto time seems to become saturated. As airy as compact, both space and time is filled by Martin Fröst´s delightful performance in what was the
highlight of the opening concert of the Baltic Sea Festival.“
(Claes Wahlin, Aftonbladet, 23 August 2006)

Musicianship attuned to the elements was subsequently demonstrated by the world star Martin Fröst … In the world’s most famous adagio Fröst expressed his romantic temperament through artistic rubato leaps, while
the orchestra´s musicians tamed their instruments in the theme’s rocking
swell.
( Sofia Nyblom, Svenska Dagbladet, 22 August 2006)

Simply delightful!
(Thomas Anderberg, Dagens Nyheter, 22 August 2006)

Verbier Festival Debut Recital
3rd August 2006:

To become one with the piano is difficult – the instrument weighs a ton and does not transport itself. To become one with the clarinet, however, is completely possible. On Thursday morning, in Verbier’s church, the 35 year old Swedish Martin Fröst, demonstrated exactly that. You have to see how he moved with his instrument, bowing the body to the rhythm of his breath, inhaling and exhaling the air around him.

Whether he plays Schumann, Poulenc, Debussy or Chausson, Martin Fröst excels in a variety of humours. His tone, sometimes supple and feline, sometimes dry and splitting, distinguishes himself from the usual classical conception of clarinet playing … He does not hesitate in taking risks, claiming a subjective tone without betraying the composers’ wishes … here was a show-man at work, whose body is an extension of the clarinet.
(Julian Sykes, Le Temps, 5 August 2006)

Nielsen Clarinet Concerto: Danish Radio Symphony Orchestra / Ilan Volkov
Late night recital, Copenhagen, 27 April:

A performer for our time
There are those who play Carl Nielsen’s knotty clarinet concerto from 1928 as a chunk of dogged, fragmented and rather shrill modernism. And then there are those, like the Swede Martin Fröst, who bring it off as a piece of wild and visionary leprechaun music, almost like an extraordinary breakneck improvisation, in which the orchestra is compelled to try to keep up. That doesn’t make the work less contemporary or relevant in the least – quite the opposite.

Alone on stage
Later the same evening Martin Fröst was alone on stage during a good half-hour. He now offered music for solo clarinet by the Swedes Anders Hillborg and Fredrik Högberg, the Frenchman Olivier Messiaen and the Finnish Kalevi Aho, and it was no less exceptional than the preceding Nielsen concerto.

A simple recipe
Besides having a greater command of his instrument than the absolute majority on today’s international music scene, Fröst is also known as a truly modern performer, working with both electronics, stage lighting and even choreography. We were given a couple of substantial and standard-setting examples of this with Hillborg’s Peacock Tales and Högberg’s Invisible Duet as the high points. And if all, or more, instrumentalists had Fröst’s courage and power of initiative, there would be no more talk about the lack of revitalization within classical music.
How difficult can it be?
(Jakob Levinsen, Jyllands-Posten, 29 April 2006)

Fröst – a Master of the Clarinet
… the culmination of the evening was the Swedish soloist. In the orchestral part of the programme he played Carl Nielsen’s clarinet concerto as beautifully and excitingly as I have ever heard it: virtuosic, elegant and filled with imagination and inspiration. The contrasts between mild caresses and irascible outbursts were in turn dramatic, witty and abundantly eloquent; circular breathing was indeed a requisite for those long, singing lines, but their expressive carrying power was rather the result of an expansive approach and the subtly modulated timbre and pulse. A particular source of joy was the elegant and natural way that the clarinet’s utterances sailed in and out between the impulses coming from the orchestra.
(Jan Jacoby, Politiken, 30 April 2006)

A Swedish king of the clarinet
The evening’s great occasion was the opportunity to hear the Swedish star clarinettist Martin Fröst immerse himself in Carl Nielsen’s Clarinet Concerto, which he did with a most elegant articulation and with a sound so smooth as if he was playing on melting snow.
(Camilla Marie Dahlgreen, Information, 29 April 2006)

Kalevi Aho Clarinet Concerto: BBC Symphony Orchestra / Osmo Vänskä
World Premiere performance , Barbican Hall, London 22 April 2006:

Until you’ve heard Martin Frost, you really haven’t heard the clarinet. This young Swedish musician becomes the clarinet. His entire body moves and breathes with the instrument – and he creates sounds the likes of which you will go a very long way to hear. No wonder that Frost was one of the first award-winners of the Borletti Buitoni Trust, which helps established and exceptional young artists – often letting them commission a new work for themselves.

It’s a mark of Frost’s imagination and genius that he chose the Finnish composer Kalevi Aho to write him a clarinet concerto. … The Clarinet Concerto, which received its world premiere in London on Saturday, is a work of beguiling beauty and huge excitement. Its five continuous movements span 30 minutes – and they fly past. A powerful Tempestoso opening, slashed by bright verticals of orchestral chords, is calmed by song deep and low within the clarinet’s being. This morphs into the low trills and increasingly virtuoso tremolos of a cadenza that exploits Frost’s unique range of dynamic control.
(Hilary Finch, 25 April 2006, The Times)

Aho (b.1949) commands a high reputation at home, but his music has hitherto had a less international feel than his more celebrated compatriots, and he lacks their glamorous globe-trotting champions. The new concerto, premiered on Saturday by Martin Fröst and the BBC Symphony under Osmo Vänskä, explodes these preconceptions. It is not just a showpiece for soloist and orchestra, it is a masterpiece. The Clarinet Concerto, commissioned by Borletti-Buitoni Trust and cast in a single five-movement breath of about 30 minutes, seizes the attention with a series of opening flutters and flourishes, and never lets go. Fröst rose to it brilliantly, and the way he moved with the music only heightened its potency.
(Andrew Clark, April 26 2006, Financial Times)

As the most modern-music-friendly of British orchestras, the BBC Symphony Orchestra spends a lot of time playing contemporary work from Finland, the country with the highest per capita composer count. Yet Kalevi Aho has not featured much: despite being one of the most prolific Finns (with 13 symphonies to his name so far), he has been overshadowed in Britain by such figures as Magnus Lindberg, Kaija Saariaho and Einojuhani Rautavaara. That was one reason for welcoming last weekend’s premiere at the Barbican of his new Clarinet Concerto, a work that may not push musical boundaries but will certainly push clarinettists, and is music that audiences will enjoy.

An even more compelling reason for welcoming the piece is that it was commissioned by the Borletti-Buitoni Trust for the sensational young Swedish clarinettist Martin Fröst. The music is tailored to his phenomenal technique. Structured in five interconnected movements and lasting half an hour, the concerto is built around a bright and biting central scherzo that makes huge demands on soloist and orchestra alike, and the conductor Osmo Vänskä presided with strong control.

Fröst also takes his instrument to other, often haunting extremes. Ethereal multiphonic effects make the finale (marked ‘Misterioso’) especially satisfying: set against an elegiac accompaniment, the clarinet gently rocks the work towards a dying close.
(John Allison, 30 April 2006, The Sunday Telegraph)

Frost should be pleased with the vehicle that Aho has produced, for it leaves hardly any aspect of his exceptional technique unexplored…
(Andrew Clements, 25 April 2006, The Guardian)

An atmospheric piece, it moves from a tempestuous opening via achingly beautiful solo passages and a vibrant scherzo to a dazzling, multi-phonic coda. The perfect showcase for the remarkable skills of the Swedish soloist Martin Fröst, it also had much to offer the superb BBC Symphony Orchestra under Osmo Vänskä, a sometime clarinettist.
(Anthony Holden, 30 April 2006, The Observer)

Mozart Clarinet Concerto: Lausanne Chamber Orchestra / Ton Koopman:

It was a treat. Playing with total musical freedom through all the registers, he transfigured the score over and over again. Each phrase appeared from no-where as if lit up, but never did he indulge in affectation. The elasticity of his phrasing, the fluted sonority of the instrument, the inaudible breathing made for a great art.
(Julian Sykes, Le Temps, 8 March 2006)

Hillborg Peacock Tales: Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra / Yauo Sinozaki:

When the Swedish clarinettist Martin Fröst entered the stage, he was like a personification of a faun, an erotic male creature imagined living in the woods. Fröst was a dancing fiddler and a prankster in Anders Hillborg´s Clarinet Concerto, titled Peacock Tales. With a seductive and elusive body language, Fröst made a satire over vanity, in such a way that his own appearance of course also can be interpreted as the same vanity, something to which you can relate with mild irony and a disarming laugh …

As the intelligent and sensitive stage performer he is, Fröst managed to avoid the trap of clumsy comedy … Hillborg has written a clarinet part for Martin Fröst which is as virtuosic as it is playful and inventive.
(Mickael Kosk, Hufvudstadsbladet, 17 February 2006)

“Voices and Wings” recital programme in Hamburg:

It opened with Schumann and closed with Schumman. There was also Schumann in the middle. It sounds like a conventional concert programme. Completely wrong. The Swedish clarinettist Martin Fröst showed just how exciting a classical evening can be at his guest concert in the Laeiszhalle. Right from the beginning Fröst impressed us … the colour which he unlocks from his clarinet, is a beauty never heard … The public went wild.
(Hamburger Abendblatt, 21 December 2005)

If Martin Fröst were simply a phenomenal clarinettist and Roland Pöntinen a good pianist, that would have been enough to satisfy the audience at Monday night’s spectacular concert. But Mr Fröst – who is obviously frustrated by the rituals of conservative musicians –made some sensational conclusions of his own. 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 … Fröst always put the music first. Rarely do you hear a clarinettist who plays as thoughtfully or with as much musicality as Fröst. He sharpens the senses of the listeners …
(Die Welt, 21 December, 2005)

Martin Fröst impressed straight off, making his first note
in Schubert’s Shepherd on the Rock grow from literally nothing. His tone
has a pliant, willowy gracefulness, exactly mirrored in his body
language, and it wasn’t altogether a surprise when later in the concert
he performed two contemporary pieces in which he had to dance and mime
as well as sing – a feat he brought off with hair’s-breadth precision
and a real dancer’s grace.
(Ivan Hewett,Daily Telegraph sept 2004)

..whith the refined young clarinettist Martin Fröst floating serenely through its stratospheric arc of climactic melody,the Wigmore Hall heard a mesmeric four minute distillation of the purest lyricism…‘For sinuous incisiveness and refinement,Fröst can have few peers among current clarinetist and Andsnes proved fully responsive.
(The Independent,2004)

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.

Inspired by the experience of performing works by Stockhausen and Boulez which included drama and choreography, Fröst asked the Stockholm-born composer Anders Hillborg to write him a choreographed clarinet concerto. What we saw and heard on Sunday was a 12-minute distillation of the original 30-minute work. It was called Peacock Tales.

Not only does its choreography reveal some serious ornithological observation (Fröst’s footwork, head and shoulder movement were peacock-like in the extreme); but the artists’ recent work on the great composer-clarinettist collaborations of the past comes to virtuoso fruition here. This is exuberantly idiomatic writing for clarinet, realising so many aspects of its character, from the scurrying flights to the self-counterpointing; from the near-silences to the minimalist duetting with the recorded orchestra.

This work, and Fredrik Högberg’s no less entertaining “computer game” of a clarinet solo, Invisible Duet, were the centrepieces of an imaginatively devised programme in which Mitsuko Uchida introduced some of the young musical “friends” who had been supported by grants from the Borletti-Buitoni Trust. They included the 23-year-old pianist Jonathan Biss, the soprano Emma Bell and the Jerusalem Quartet.

Fröst was already itching to get dancing in his idiosyncratic performance of Schubert’s The Shepherd on the Rock with Uchida and Bell.
[Hilary Flinch ,the Times sept 2004)

BBC Symphony orchestra /Fröst/Brabbins.
This was a peerless playing, with a clear full tone and depth of understanding of the work that released not only Nielsen´s characterisation of the orginal player- turbulent Aage Oxenvad -but also eked out tremendous subtlety,making the work richer for it. Even for a avid Nielsenite like myself,performances of the clarinet concerto are very few between and certainly more by Martin Fröst would not go amiss!
(Nick Breckenfield2004)

 

 

Une heure de bonheur

”Clarinettiste et pianiste semblent trouver d’emblée les mêmes mots, les mêmes accents, les mêmes soupirs, cette pensée commune qui est la marque des grands disques de musique de chambre. Un Schumann lumineux.”
(Serge Gregory in RÉPERTOIRE June 2003)

 

 

Die schönste,bewegenste Mozart-Erfahrung
seit langer Zeit bescherte mir Schwedens neu
klarinetten-Star Martin Fröst…..schafft es der
zugleich unbekümmert-locker wie hoch
konzentrirt-sensibel deklamierende
Schwede,einen nach nur wenigen Takten das
Wunder Mozart ganz neu erleben,,neu
durchleben zu lassen,als hörte man diesen
ätherischen Abschiedsgesang zum ersten Mal.
Noch nie habe ich dieses letzte vielleicht
schönste Konzert Mozarts als so
anthropomorph,als in klang gezetzte
Humanitas,als reinsten,innersten Seelegesang
Wahrnehmen können,ohne eine spur von
Sentimentalität oder Larmoyanz,Sondern als
frohe Botshaften eines durch und durch
jugendlichen Genies. Die flüssigen natürlichen
tempi,die Fröst und die wunderbar atmend
mitspielende amsterdamer sinfonietta unter
Peter Oundijan unterstützen den Eindrück
beseelter Lebendigkeit. Solche “Auratiker” wie
Fröst gibt es selbst unterSpitzenmuskern nur
selten.
(Attila Csampai Fono Forum)

 

Morerover it introduced me to Fröst whose sensuos clarinet lines were mesmerising..
…‘It was, Fröst though, who was the evening’s discovery – – (The Guardian, 2004)

 

 

‘His solo in Messiaen plays for the abyss of time. FrÃ
st hit the tone of eternity, the transition between silence and sonority.’
( Olaf Weiden, Kölnishe Rundschau )2003

 

 

‘Such soft tones are seldom heard, such stealthy, imperceptible crescendi from absolute silence, such chiselled accentuation, all with a generously flowing musicality.’
(Serge Gregory, Repertoire, Paris 2004)

 

 

“Fröst phenomenal clarinetist
….Everything came together in Carl Nielsen´s Clarinet Concerto…. The contrast with Fröst and his flowing tone, warm, silky and never unpleasant …., was fierce. Above all, the Swede had the instrument under perfect control from the full depth up to the softest high notes…. Phenomenal.”
(Rotterdams Dagblad 7 April 2000)

 

 

“A clarinetist as operastar.”
(Hannover Allgemeine Zeitung)

 

 

“The Swedish clarinet player is a sensation.”
(Helsinki Sanomat)

 

 

“Martin Fröst´s performance of James Macmillan´s moving Piper Alfha Lament together with BBC SSO was in many ways the finest performance I have heard of the work. The young Swede, a firm true player, bringing subtlety and an extraordinary range of dynamics and colour to the music.”
(The Herald Glasgow)

 

 

“Swedish clarinetist Martin Fröst was nothing short of sensational. His virtuoso technique was phenomenal. More interesting was his ability to phrase Mozart with a mixture of respect and novelty, magically expressive and fluent.”
(BBC NOW, Cardiff)

 

 

“Was bleibt von der Saison 1994/95? Von makelloser Musikalität und berührend poetisher darstellerisher Ausstrahlung: der junge Klarinettist Martin Fröst….”
(Opernwelt das Jahrbuch 1995)

 

 

“The Swedish clarinetist Martin Fröst is already a highly accomplish concerto soloist…. Fröst performance …. compelling – above all in its control over line and colour in the first movement and in it technical and ideomatic brilliance in the second.”
(The Times)

 

 

“The biggest star of the evening, however, was Martin Fröst, a youth with a brilliant technique and an exceptional tone. Even if the music by Nielsen is less attractive to the audience compared to Sibelius, the audience which was completely mesmerized, demanded two encores.
(Prague Clausovi Seveane 1 March 2002)

 

 

Clarinetist´s performance dazzles
(Entertainment 15 September 2001)

 

 

“The Hillborg, written in 1998 for Fröst, begins with a long solo that blossoms out of silence, and the unison strings joins in a high note before cascades of sound are unleashed by the orchestra. the work involves every challenge possible, plus bizarre choreography för Fröst, who twirled about marched, wore a mask, and “played” the clarinet as if it were a violin. What it means is an enigma, but the audience was mesmerized, as stage lights dimmed, and Fröst was lit by a spotlight, like the very first classical street performer.

There´s a definite trend to staging classical works, and drawing theatre out of performers, and this was the most intense example Edmonton has yet seen. The orchestra´s enthusiastic applause was a sign of its admiration, and the audience gave a standing ovation.”
(The Edmonton Sun 17 September 2001)

 

 

“Fröst incarnates the essence of the clarinet
The same perfrection which characterizes Martin Fröst´s musicianship in general is now transmitted to his whole body. In the rythmical light of Thomas Mirstam, in the sensuous mime choreography by Yasmine Garbi and equipped with Mette Möller´s trident masque he is transformed into a satyr. A musician who not only commands his clarinet but also incarnates the very essence of the clarinet in his appearance and his movement.”
(Svenska Dagbladet)

 

 

“An incomparable performance. One is inclined to count him among the great heroic tenors, intense, romantic and brave.”
(Expressen)

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Martin Fröst
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