Dances to a Black Pipe

The Swedish clarinettist dances through epochs and lands

Author: 
Guy Rickards
Dances to a Black Pipe

Dances to a Black Pipe

  • Concerto for Clarinet and String Orchestra with Harp
  • (21) Hungarian Dances, G minor (orch Brahms)
  • (21) Hungarian Dances, D minor (orch Parlow)
  • (21) Hungarian Dances, D (orch Parlow)
  • (21) Hungarian Dances, E minor (orch Dvorák)
  • Klezmer Dances
  • Dance Preludes
  • Oblivion
  • Peacock Tales
  • Dancing with Silent Purpose

There may be works by Brahms, Copland and Piazzolla here but almost every piece is a novelty in Martin Fröst’s dance-themed programme. Copland’s Concerto, written for Benny Goodman, is well known enough but not the original version of its second movement which, especially in the coda, contained more difficult passages than in the familiar version. Fröst opens with the revised Concerto Goodman premiered in 1950 (and later recorded with the composer) and concludes the disc with the original second movement. The differences are not too significant and Fröst despatches both with equal élan and a match for his previous BIS recording.

Hillborg’s Peacock Tales, given in its 2002 chamber version, exists in three different incarnations (Fröst recorded the full-orchestral version, 11/03). Including the shorter ‘Millennium’ version, Peacock Tales has proved a popular new repertoire item – almost half of the 52 performances of Hillborg’s music listed on his website for 2011 are of one version or other – and here receives a blisteringly virtuoso performance from Fröst, expertly accompanied by the Australian Chamber Orchestra. It is a much stronger piece than Högberg’s Dancing with Silent Purpose for clarinet, strings and tape, the third span of which Fröst wrote in part, though it is growing on me.

This partnership of soloist and orchestra is an inspired one, not least in the smaller-scale pieces, most particularly Lutosławski’s vibrant Dance Preludes (the 1955 version). Fröst’s account is every inch as virtuoso as Stoltzman’s, stiff opposition in a more mainstream programme. His brother’s arrangements of four Brahms Hungarian Dances are fun, as are Göran Fröst’s own Klezmer Dances. Piazzolla’s Oblivion rounds off this hugely engaging programme. There is a quirky and highly personal essay in lieu of booklet-note from Fröst himself.

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