Review: Martin Fröst/CBSO, at Symphony Hall, Birmingham
Martin Fröst is a brilliant clarinettist and a showman – his eye-catching glam-rock black suit with white piping was a giveaway.
Fröst’s technical wizardry and engagingly extrovert musical personality make him the ideal interpreter of Swedish composer Rolf Martinsson’s Concert Fantastique which received its UK premiere with the CBSO conducted by Edward Gardner.
It was heartening to hear a contemporary work being greeted so warmly – deservedly so.
The attention-grabbing opening featured dazzling bravura passages for Fröst.
Imagine if Gershwin had transcribed The Flight of the Bumblebee for Benny Goodman and you’ll get the idea.
The concerto’s five sections are full of fantasy and contrasts, from a passage where Fröst plays a single tone for a minute without a break to a lush romantic melody worthy of Korngold at his Hollywood ripest.
Fröst’s jolly klezmer-inspired encore rounded off the concert’s first half perfectly.
Fantasy was the concert’s theme. It began with a crisply-played performance of Dukas’ Sorcerer’s Apprentice.
Often the first movement of Berlioz’ Symphonie fantastique, meant by the composer to depict reveries and passions, is made to sound more like alternating lassitude and agitation.
Gardner’s conducting ensured some genuine romantic angst here and a queasily febrile atmosphere for the nightmare finale.