Friday, August 15, 2008

Classical music moves on


Dance, mime, dramatic lighting, theatrical props and virtuoso musicianship all come together in Anders Hillborg's Clarinet Concerto which was given a scintillating performance by Martin Fröst (right above) and the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra under Gustavo Dudamel at last night's Snape Prom. Hillborg's Concerto is creating quite a stir on the current Gothenburg Orchestra tour, which is good news for contemporary music. But it is worthwhile remembering that the concerto was actually premiered by its dedicatee Martin Fröst with the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra ten years ago.

Aspects of Dudamel Inc still leave me uneasy. But the performance of Anders Hillborg's concerto under his baton was part of an evening of memorable music making. Some tightening of the almost thirty minute long concerto could give it more shape, while elsewhere in the programme Dudamel and his orchestra sometimes produced dynamics more appropriate to the Albert Hall, where they played a BBC Prom previous evening, than to an auditorium 15% of its size. And I do wish the orchestra wouldn't start sorting out encore scores before the last scheduled work finishes. But all this was far outweighed by the outstanding playing which Dudamel drew from his orchestra.

John Cage once said - 'If my work is accepted I must move on to the point where it isn't' . Of course he was was right and classical music must move on. For some it will be dancing Swedish brass players, for some it will be media hype, for others it will be superlative performances of new music like Anders Hillborg's daring Clarinet Concerto. It's different strokes for different folks. Last night's concert had them all, and the usually conservative Snape audience loved it. Whatever your strokes, the good news, folks, is that classical music is moving on.

* I first came across Martin Fröst via his 2002 BIS recording of Schumann transcriptions with pianist Roland Pöntinen which provides my header image. A million miles from Anders Hillborg's concerto but still highly recommended. Wilhelm Stenhamar provided the orchestras' first encore, he was also the first artistic leader of the Gothenburg Orchestra - read more here.

Anders Hillborg's Clarinet Concerto played by Martin Fröst is available on an Ondne CD. Any copyrighted material on these pages is included as "fair use", for the purpose of study, review or critical analysis only, and will be removed at the request of copyright owner(s). Report broken links, missing images and errors to - overgrownpath at hotmail dot co dot uk

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