Martin Fröst

léonie sonning music prize 2014

The Swedish clarinettist Martin Fröst received the Léonie Sonning Music Prize of DKK 600,000 at a concert held on Saturday, 10 May 2014 in Koncerthuset, DR Byen. The concert began in the foyer of the concert hall and continued in the concert hall itself. The prize was presented by Esben Tange, chairman of the Léonie Sonning Music Foundation executive committee.

The prize concert was attended by HRH Prince Henrik. It was transmitted live on DR P2 and also broadcast on 17 May on DR K.


In the foyer
Bent Sørensen Pre-echo of Serenidad
Dedicated to Martin Fröst. First performance (2014)
Göran Fröst Klezmer Dance no. 2
Brahms Hungarian Dance no. 1
Göran Fröst Klezmer Dance no. 3

Martin Fröst, clarinet
Magnus Holmander, clarinet
Ingrid Meidell Noodt, clarinet

August Finkas, clarinet
Søren-Filip Hansen, clarinet
Jesper Clausen, clarinet
Natalie Harris, clarinet
Morten Jensen, clarinet

The Danish String Quartet
Johannes Søe Hansen, violin
Sarah McClelland, violin
Joel González, double bass


In the concert hall

W.A. Mozart Concerto for Clarinet and Orchestra in A major

Bent Sørensen Serenidad. Sonning versionDedicated to Martin Fröst. First performance (2014)

Anders Hillborg Clarinet Concerto. Dollhouse version, rev. 2013
Dedicated to Martin Fröst


The prize was presented by Esben Tange, chairman of the Léonie Sonning Music Foundation’s board, with the following words:

‘The Léonie Sonning Music Prize 2014, of 600,000 Danish kroner, is given to the clarinetist Martin Fröst in recognition its interpretation of his instrument’s classical and contemporary repertoire with sublime musicality. With his masterful musicianship, Martin Fröst has inspired a number of contemporary composers to create groundbreaking works for clarinet. By virtue of his unconventional stage demeanor, where audio and visual expressions are combined in a surprising way, Martin Fröst has shown himself to be one of our time’s most visionary musical artists.’

In the days before the concert Martin Fröst gave concerts with the Danish String Quartet at the Aarhus Music House (6 May) and Mogens Dahl Concert Hall (7 May). On the programme were the clarinet quintets by Mozart and Brahms. On 8 May, Martin Fröst gave a master-class with clarinet students from the Royal Danish Academy of Music.


Martin Fröst in Denmark

Martin Fröst has been a soloist with a number of institutions in Denmark including the Danish National Symphony Orchestra and the Copenhagen Phil.

The Daily Press wrote among other things:

Fröst spread out his entire peacock’s tail of musical and performance-related talents. Not only was he soloist in everything that was played; together with a small group of musicians he also provided an introduction to the evening in the foyer of Koncerthuset that turned out to be small foretastes of what was in store during the concert: Pre-echoes of wild and virtuoso klezmer music was, with the help of the Danish String Quartet, seamlessly linked to a fast and furious Hungarian Dance by Brahms.

Fröst is the perfect clarinettist, and before the evening’s great, pumping discharge in the form of a wild – and wildly controlled – performance of his compatriot Anders Hillborg’s rock’n’roll concerto ‘Peacock Tales’, in which Fröst demonstrated a peacock breakdance with his instrument in front of the orchestra, he had long since demonstrated why precisely he should be included on the royal list of Sonning prize winners.

(Thomas Michelsen, Politiken)

The magic is continued into the concert hall with Mozart’s golden concerto for solo clarinet and orchestra from 1791. As always, Fröst is flawless in this piece and consistently original. Even a Mozartian marble world is communicated out to everyone and gives rise to the first of four standing ovations. He underplays the great melodies, thereby giving the small personal touches more room: A new ornament here, a surprising pause there. And the timeless element of his playing should not be forgotten either: Not for a second does one think of the question of old style or new style. He plays Mozart in his own way and is impeccably supported by the Danish National Symphony Orchestra under the unobtrusive conducting of Thomas Søndergård.

(Søren Schausser, Berlingske Tidende)

A large part of the concert was choreographed – a musical top performance full of unforgettable visual images that spoke of much more than self-satisfied wailing of the clarinet. And precisely because of that, the alternative prize concert avoided all restrictions and made a direct physical impact. Initially in the foyer, with five young clarinettists on the gangway up above the stage to the sound of Bent Sørensen’s new, gently simmering ‘Pre-echo of Serenidad’.

Down on the stage, Fröst and two young colleagues take over in one choreographed dance sequence after the other. At one moment caught like marionettes in the gentle sounds of the simple rhythms, at the next moment like human beings that glide in and out of each other. Bent Sørensen’s stroke of genius gives way to klezmer dances and a couple of Hungarian dances by Brahms. Something of a somersault when compared with the discreetly beautiful Sørensen, but the concert now moved up a gear and transformed into what it was – a festive occasion.

(Jens Povlsen, Jyllands-Posten)

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