Martin Fröst

The Swedish clarinettist has delved into his encores library for his new disc ‘Fröst and Friends’. He tells us about it

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How did you choose the works on Fröst and Friends?

It’s like a journey right from my diploma concert, really, for which I realised I didn’t have any encores prepared. So, in the car on the way to the concert, we transcribed Scriabin preludes and performed them – that was the start of my encores collection, so to speak. All the pieces I have done in, say, the last 10 years I have put together here. There are also a lot of connections to the projects I have done over the years, such as ‘No Strings Attached’ and ‘Beyond All Clarinet History’.

Is that journey quite personal?

Yes. And the disc also has something to do with the pieces I heard first in my life – the very early memories. My father was played a lot of Bach and a lot of Brahms songs and chamber music, and the Klezmer music I heard when I was in my early teenage years.

And where does the ‘Friends’ bit of the disc’s title come from?

Actually, that was the record company’s idea! I agree with it, but the friends here are those I’ve been working with on my projects in Sweden: the bassist Svante Henryson, my very close cellist friend Torleif Thedéen, mezzo Malena Ernman, and pianist Rolande Pöntinen, who is always going with me to places. Of course, when I play, say, a Brahms trio or quintet, I have other, chamber-music friends. So, this is an encores disc first and foremost, and then the friends come afterwards.

Some of your friends on the disc not only play the works, but occasionally compose them too. As do you yourself…

Yes. My own compositions so far have been just for solo clarinet, or for clarinet with sound on CD. And Brudvals för Karin och Martin by my little brother Göran is a wedding waltz for my own wedding. It was nostalgic for me to have this on the disc!

Are you frustrated by the relative lack of standard repertoire for the clarinet?

For me, it hasn’t been a problem so far and compared to other woodwind, it’s big enough. If we didn’t have Brahms and Mozart’s chamber music and concertos, then it would be really small, but some of the pieces we do have are some of the most beautiful I know. And if I were, say, a violin player, there’s no chance that I would have played all the repertoire – whereas as a clarinet player, the repertoire’s big enough to have 20 years of pure joy playing the pieces.

Interview by Jeremy Pound

Image: Select/BIS

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