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.”