Martin Fröst was here last year to perform a clarinet concerto by the Finnish composer Kalevi Aho with the National Symphony Orchestra. While he was in town, he came to the Classical WETA studios for a conversation with Deborah Lamberton. He mentioned the transcendent moment when a musician feels completely free, and “the human voice comes through.”
Apparently Mozart was inspired by such moments listening to Anton Stadler, who had a reputation for creating a clarinet sound that perfectly imitated the human voice. Mozart wrote all his music for clarinet inspired by Stadler, and on this album we hear the famous Clarinet Concerto, the Trio known as “Kegelstatt” (legend has it that Mozart wrote the work for friends with whom he was playing skittles in a bowling alley), and a rarely-recorded movement from an unfinished clarinet quintet. This Allegro is presented in a version completed by Harvard musicologist and pianist Robert Levin.
For this recording, the Concerto is recorded using a basset clarinet, which has an extended lower range, and is the instrument for which Mozart wrote the piece. The more common modern clarinet doesn’t have the range to play this piece in its original form, and so most performances involve adaptations that miss the richness of that lower range. It’s a treat to hear Martin Fröst, whose expressive agility shows him to be a true master of the clarinet, play this popular concerto as the composer intended.
Fröst is joined by world-class musicians for each of the selections. He conducts the effervescent German Chamber Philharmonic Bremen in the Concerto, and enjoys the Kegelstatt Trio with pianist Leif Ove Andsnes and virtuoso violist Antoine Tamestit. For the Allegro, he has gathered violinists Janine Jansen and Boris Brovtsyn, violist Maxim Rysanov, and cellist Torleif Thedéen together for a bracing string quartet.