Martin Fröst: Nordic Concertos
Fröst is the star of the show here. Not that the four accompanying orchestras and conductors are anything but exemplary accompanists; in each work, soloist, orchestra and conductor prove models of co-operation in bringing the visions of four very disparate composers to life.
I had the pleasure of reviewing the recording of Peacock Tales (1998 – designed as a multimedia composition but working beautifully as absolute music) on its first appearance on an all-Hillborg disc from Ondine. I was immediately struck by its kaleidoscopic range of moods and expression, and time has not dulled its sense of exuberant excitement. Holmboe’s Concerto No 3 is a masterpiece of neo-classicism and one of the Dane’s finest utterances. Fröst shows a more restrained side to his character in his superlative account, with a beguiling fluidity of line outclassing his fine Dacapo rival, Niels Thomsen.
A different kind of restraint is needed in Karin Rehnqvist’s atmospheric suite On a Distant Shore (2002), again previously issued on a fascinating all-Rehnqvist album. Here, filigree delicacy is essential, yet with a spine of steel. As on BIS’s ‘Hekas!’ disc (1/98), these modern works have Crusell’s delightful Introduction and Variations on a Swedish Air (Op 12, not Op 124 as the disc cover lists it) as makeweight. Fröst shows how adept he is at the older style of writing in a performance as fluent and virtuoso as King’s or Thompson’s. Crusellians, though, may prefer Rosengren, with the ever-cultured Okko Kamu for Musica Sveciae on – for once – an all-Crusell disc.