The clarinetist Martin Fröst, after a series of recordings of modern-ish Nordic and Germanic clarinet repertory on the Swedish label BIS, gets a larger mouthpiece here with a release on the major Sony Classical label. Fröst's playing has never been better: he excels in both tough, angular lines and slow cantabile, and both are applied here to a wide variety of material. Three of Schumann's Five Pieces in Folk Style, Op. 102, are made into a little sonata here, and sampling any one of them (tracks 7-9) will show you how compelling Fröst can make only moderately interesting music. Like those pieces, most of the music is arranged from music in media other than clarinet and orchestra. It circles around the theme of folk "roots" in classical music, with some very colorful treatments of traditional music as well as Bartók and a range of other pieces from Telemann to Piazzolla (an especially successful arrangement that sticks close to the original La muerte del Angel) and contemporary music. The range is very wide, and Fröst holds it together impressively. A couple of traditional pieces are given a gauzy choral backing; Fröst may have felt that such a crossover gesture was necessary in a major-label environment, but in this cast it detracts from a tightly constructed musical argument that could have stood better on its own. On balance, however, this will be a fine introduction for many listeners to one of the great instrumentalists of the present day.
AllMusic Review by James Manheim
|Concerto for Recorder, Transverse Flute, Strings and Continuo in E minor|
|5 Stücke im Volkston Op. 102|
|Romanian Folk Dances, Sz 56|
|Siete canciones populares|