It’s not every day that you get to meet one of the best clarinetists in the world, but last weekend I got to do just that.
Martin Fröst play a solo concert with pianist Shai Wosner at the Lincoln Center’s Walter Reade Theater. Martin Fröst is a clarinet superstar from Sweden. I had been looking forward to this concert for weeks. He launched the presentation with an amazing performance of Premiére Rapsodie by Debussy. I loved his movement while he was playing; it was like he was dancing.
Next, he played a sonata by Poulenc with such wonderful phrasing, it was like he was singing. He seemed so excited while he played, that it was fun just to watch him.
The next piece really captured the day. Fröst played the Theme with Variations by Françaix with unbelievable grace. The pianissimo notes were so astonishing that they could be heard throughout the hall. The expression of his body movement was so interwoven with the music; it was like he became the melody.
After the Françaix, the clarinet virtuoso executed the Brahms Sonata in E-flat major, No. 2 even more impressively than the piece before. His phrases were superb and his tone was just marvelous, like a flowing river. He just throws himself in the music, making every note gorgeous. He persuaded me that there was for that hour nothing else in the world besides his enthralling playing. Martin Frost has his own ostentatious style which no one could ever replicate.
Finally, he received such an ovation that he ended the morning with an encore. He played an animated klezmer-like piece called Csárdás from his album Frost and Friends which woke us up from his lulling, beautiful Brahms. He jumped right into it, and played all the technical parts with such enthusiasm. As the piece became more exciting, he played with even more eagerness. It was a grand ending and he pulled it off with virtuosity almost unknown to the clarinet.
There was a coffee reception after the concert where everyone got to meet Martin Fröst and Shai Wosner. Martin Fröst’s agent had given me and my mom his comp tickets when we found the concert had sold out, so we had to thank him, and I really wanted to meet him. I was really nervous while I was in line to meet him. When it was our turn to talk to him, I was so nervous that I couldn’t speak coherently. My mom and I thanked him for the tickets, and my mom asked him if she could take a picture of me and Martin Fröst. He said yes and my mom took a picture. She said that I looked terrified, and Martin Fröst was so nice that he said, “I looked terrified too, take another one.”
It was a spectacular performance and I hope I can watch him play his clarinet again soon even if he is Swedish and not Norwegian. (The Bakkes come from Norway.)