Roots

Our rating 
5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

COMPOSERS: Bartok,Brahms,Crusell,Ek and Pelēcis,Falla,Fröst,Hillborg,Piazzolla,Schumann,Works by Telemann
LABELS: Sony
ALBUM TITLE: Roots
WORKS: Works by Telemann, Fröst, Crusell, Brahms, Schumann, Bartók, Falla, Hillborg, Piazzolla, Ek and Pele¯ cis
PERFORMER: Works by Telemann, Fröst, Crusell, Brahms, Schumann, Bartók, Falla, Hillborg, Piazzolla, Ek and Pele¯ cis
CATALOGUE NO: Sony 88875065292

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The Swedish clarinet virtuoso Martin Fröst here goes in search of the roots of music, beginning with three ancient Greek hymns combined with an antiphon by Hildegard of Bingen, and then exploring a whole range of treatments of traditional themes. These include (among much else) clarinet-and-orchestra arrangements of a klezmer dance, three of Schumann’s Pieces in Folk Style, a Brahms Hungarian Dance and Bartók’s Romanian Folk Dances (both the latter with a Hungarian cimbalom), as well as a group of creative reworkings of Scandinavian vernacular music by Hans Ek, some involving the pure-voiced girls’ choir.

Who might this fast-moving concept album appeal to? Listeners who relish the stylistic juxtapositions of Radio 3’s Late Junction will enjoy being bombarded with Telemann in Polish idiom one moment, a Falla lullaby the next, a jazz-tinged squib by Anders Hillborg and, to end with, tangos by Astor Piazzolla and the austere Latvian Georgs Pele¯cis. But, mostly, clarinettists and clarinet fans will revel in Fröst’s buoyant performance of Crusell’s Variations on a Swedish Song (the only extended piece on the disc, and the only time the Stockholm orchestra gets a decent run-out), and in his mercurial, technically staggering playing throughout this scatter-shot assortment.

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Anthony Burton