The Soloist Who Is Totally Worth It
17 Feb 2011
Inside the Classics

Lest anyone get the idea that I’m not excited about playing this week’s concerts (and honestly, I don’t know where you would ever have gotten such a notion,) allow me to present one of the most utterly convincing selling points I’ve ever seen on a concert stage.

Yeah. So that’s Martin Fröst on the clarinet, there, with the Verbier Festival Orchestra. We in the Minnesota Orchestra are, of course, no strangers to stunning clarinet playing – Osmo’s considerable skills aside, I’d put Burt Hara and our entire clarinet section up against any other orchestra in the world at the moment. Just top to bottom great.

But I’ve spent the last two days rehearsing behind Fröst, and it’s basically been a nonstop tutorial in stuff I had no idea a clarinet could do. Throw in the fact that he’s one of the most naturally theatrical performers I’ve ever seen (a quality you don’t see too often in classical wind players) and this weekend could wind up being the most memorable concert we play all season. The Aho concerto he’s playing features everything from multiphonics (playing more than one note at a time on an instrument totally not designed for that purpose) to absurdly difficult rhythmic patterns executed at breakneck speed to unbearably soft and heartbreaking duets with various instruments of the orchestra, and you’ve never seen a soloist enjoy his work more.

Oh, and that little klezmer number he was playing up above? If you liked that, and you’re coming to Orchestra Hall this week, you might want to keep applauding for a while after the concerto’s over. Something fun might happen…

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