I very often marvel at Man’s creativity, his industriousness and his ability to solve highly complex issues. I am not speaking about music here, mind you! For two or more years I have been crossing a huge construction site at the southern border of Luxembourg city. A new suburban area is being built, complete with office buildings, apartments, a pharmacy, a high school, a bank, a supermarket and Luxembourg’s new football arena. The roads are being rebuilt in parallel, but the traffic jams are less dramatic than I had anticipated. I am impressed by the speed with which buildings are rising into the sky. I am impressed by the constant coordination required to keep construction going and car traffic more or less flowing.
“I’ve always been a great lover of Mozart, a great, great admirer of this composer”, says Anne-Sophie Mutter in the booklet accompanying her recording of some of the most beautiful sonatas for violin and piano written by Mozart. “None of these pieces are easy. Mozart has a habit of suddenly demanding you after a wonderfully beautiful elegiac melody to perform a triple somersault from a standing start. And yet it must never sound merely virtuosic. Mozart’s music is never an end in itself. However we may have valued virtuosity, it’s always wrapped up in galanterie, elegance and expression.”
Have I ever presented to you the Swedish clarinettist Martin Fröst? No? I should have done so long ago for this man transforms abstract notes into music of pure, glittering gold. Fröst was born in 1970 and as a five-year old boy he started to play the violin. Three years later he added the clarinet. He deepened his studies in Germany and Stockholm and also took classes in conducting. In May 2017, the Swedish Chamber Orchestra announced the appointment of Fröst as its next principal conductor, effective with the 2019/20 season, with an initial contract of three seasons. The “New York Times” qualified him as having “a virtuosity and a musicianship unsurpassed by any clarinettist, perhaps any instrumentalist”.
At some point it had to happen. At some point I had to write about Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Requiem in D Minor, KV 626. Too many times I had listened to the overwhelming opening chant “Requiem aeternam dona eis, Domine” (Lord, give them eternal peace). Too many times I had been swept away emotionally by the prospect of the eternal light shining upon me (“Lux aeterna luceat eis, Domine”). Yesterday I heard it in an arrangement by Franz Xaver Süßmayr, performed by the Orchestre des Champs-Élysées and the Collegium Vocale Gent under Philippe Herreweghe in Luxembourg. Oh Lord, what a blessing! What a performance! Simply exhilarating!