13 Solo Alone and MoreSolo, Alone and More
Jonas Frøland
Our Recordings 6.220681 (ourrecordings.com)

Reading the notes to Solo Alone and More, a clarinet collection played by young hotshot Jonas Frøland, one remembers the value of a good editor. I got some smiles reading the overlong and quirky paragraphs accompanying this demonstration of instrumental excellence. 

Three works are excerpts: the first cadenza from Carl Nielsen’s Clarinet Concerto (1928) opens the collection, announcing Frøland’s range and musicality; the follow-up suggests to me he hasn’t considered the dramatic range of Stravinsky’s Three Pieces for Clarinet Solo (1919). Stravinsky wrote these as a gift to the patron who backed L’Histoire du Soldat, and I always imagine them staged. He plays the first piece more as a rhythmic aria than a static, atmospheric tableau. The middle section of the second movement is, to my mind, a limping Soldier’s March; instead, Frøland treats the eighth-note pulse differently in the inner and outer sections, fundamentally changing the pulse between them. I’d love a chance to talk it over with him, because I don’t think that’s what Igor had in mind. 

Frøland’s dynamic control and technical fluidity amaze in Messiaen’s Abîme des Oiseaux (1940) (the second excerpt of the collection, from the Quatuor Pour la Fin du Temps) and Bent Sørensen’s beautiful Lontanamente Fragments of a Waltz (2012). Both feature that most desirable clarinet trait: pianississississimo. Mette Nielsen’s Alone for Basset Clarinet (2021) was commissioned by Frøland. It’s an unsettling exploration of microtones that left me chilled. Fully half an hour of this 70-minute program is taken up with Gunnar Berg’s Pour Clarinette Seul (1957) and Simon Steene-Andersen’s De Profundis, (2000/rev2019). Substantial works both. And the third excerpt? Tossed in is a rewrite of the cor anglais solo from Act III of Tristan und Isolde.  

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Author: Max Christie
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