Monday, December 6, 2010

Risor Chamber Music Festival at Carnegie Hall

On Friday, I went to see Martin Frost in the Risor Chamber Music Festival at Carnegie Hall. The Risor Chamber Music Festival is yearly chamber music festival in Risor, Norway.

First, they opened with a string sextet by Richard Strauss. They played very beautifully. I really liked expression of the cellist, Audun Andre Sandvik. His playing throughout the evening was really memorable.

Next, there was an amazing performance of Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 14 in Eb Major by pianist Leif Ove Andsnes. I loved how he conducted the orchestra as he played, just like Uchida does. There was only one problem with this setup: I could only see the pianist from the back from where I was. I couldn’t see his fingers and his face while he was playing. Still, it was a sensational performance. Also, in the performance, the principal first violin, second violin, and viola played a trio together separate from the piano. It was like a piece within a piece, and they communicated so well, it was almost like they were one person.

The last piece before intermission was Gustav Mahler’s Lieder Eines Fahrenden Gesellen, starring Measha Brueggergosman, a leading soprano. She was accompanied by an odd group of two violins, a viola, a cello, a bass, a flute, a clarinet, a piano, a harmonium, and a percussion player. It was a stunning execution of this collection of songs. Brueggergosman was very inspiring. Whenever I tried to watch Martin Frost, who was my whole reason for being in New York that weekend, she irresistibly drew my attention back to her. I felt like she was singing to me personally. She was amazing!

After intermission, Martin Frost played Aaron Copland’s Clarinet Concerto. His first, flabbergasting pianissimo blew your mind away. It was so quiet but he still got a beautiful tone and his sound filled the entire hall. His physical movement during the first section, slowly and expressively, was very interesting. It was like he was dancing, as he played. He had his own ideas about how to move while playing the clarinet that aren’t quite like anyone elses. He played the cadenza that linked the two movements marvelously, executing all the difficult turns and twists perfectly. In the last movement, rather fast, Frost became very excited, and the expression of his body became even more thrilling. I loved how he played with the cellos and basses. I enjoyed this last movement even more than the first one.

For an encore, Martin Frost played a klezmer piece called Lets Be Happy for an encore. He said it was his own brand of Scandinavian klezmer, because it was arranged by his little brother. He got so animated during this piece that I think he liked it better than the Copland. It was a fun piece with a lot of fast parts and I think he played it better here than at any other part of the concert.

They ended the night with an incredible performance of Béla Bartók’s Divertimento for Strings. I especially liked the violas and cellos. The lower sections of the Risor Festival Strings really stood out. All around, it was a great performance.

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