Martin Fröst

Mozart

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Swedish clarinetist Martin Fröst is one of the world's top players, with a creamy, utterly consistent tone that is the envy of many a young player. It may be a surprise to see him take up Mozart's Clarinet Concerto in A major, K. 622, once again; he recorded it in the early 2000s with the Amsterdam Sinfonietta, along with its usual partner on disc, the Clarinet Quintet in A major, K. 581. But there are several new things this time around. First of all, the orchestra, in this case the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie, is conducted by Fröst himself, and the concerto has a really startling lightness and grace (although picking between the two is a matter of personal preference). Second, the rest of the program is different. You get not the Clarinet Quintet (for which the earlier recording would really be hard to beat) but the Trio in E flat major for clarinet, viola, and piano, K. 498 ("Kegelstatt"), an underrated and quite intricate work that looks forward to the rarefied chamber music world of Schubert. To bring the curtain down there's the Allegro for clarinet quintet in B flat major, K. Anh 91, an incomplete work for which a completion was suggested by Robert Levin some years ago. Enough actual Mozart survives to show that the work was planned out on a large scale, and it's intriguing if not compelling. The chief attraction in the last two works is the presence of a variety of northern European all-stars, including violinist Janine Jansen in the Allegro and pianist Leif Ove Andsnes in the Trio. These show that the Fröst magic extends even to chamber music situations that have thrown many a great virtuoso off track. The whole album is as good as you would expect it to be, and that's saying a lot.

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