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Dances to a Black Pipe (clarinet: Martin Frost; ACO/Tognetti)

Cd/Dvd Reviews -

Hillborg, Copland, Piazzolla, Högberg, Lutosławski, Brahms

Peacock Tales
Martin Fröst, Australian Chamber Orchestra, Richard Tognetti

by Melissa Lesnie on January 25, 2012 (January 25, 2012) filed under | Comment Now
Masked magician: Martin Frost and the ACO cast a spell.

Anyone who saw Swedish clarinettist Martin Fröst twist, twirl, strut and shimmy his way through his national tour with the ACO last year will know what a physically engaging showman he is.

So it’s natural that he would record a dance-themed album during the tour, and no surprise it’s the most eclectic and inspired program the ACO has committed to disc. Hillborg’s Peacock Tales creates a spellbinding atmosphere even without its visual component, Fröst running the expressive and technical gauntlet against an eerie backdrop of clustered strings.

Copland’s Clarinet Concerto is equally virtuosic. Both soloist and orchestra (with added piano and harp) are bright and punchy right up to the final clarinet glissando.

Fröst is spirited and idiomatic in klezmer tunes scored by his brother Göran and attacked with gusto by the ACO. Göran’s arrangements of Brahms’s Hungarian Dances are well served by the soloist’s lightness of touch and flawless intonation, but it’s the band’s sweeping romanticism that carries these pieces. The most fun on the disc, however, is Högberg’s highly charged Dancing with Silent Purpose with its manic electronic beat. The Expressive Rage movement gives the ACO an opportunity to rock out as Fröst’s fingers dance across the keys.