Vivaldi: Works for Clarinet and Orchestra

Martin Frost, Concerto Koln

Vivaldi: Works for Clarinet and Orchestra
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Vivaldi: Works for Clarinet and Orchestra

Martin Frost, Concerto Koln

Martin Fröst’s new album is a baroque adventure based on the question: What might Vivaldi have composed for the clarinet if it had been more fully developed? For this recording three clarinet concertos have been newly composed, made up of music drawn from Vivaldi’s most beautiful opera and oratorio arias. Martin Fröst and Concerto Köln create a wonderful symbiosis between the old and the new.


Historians believe that the clarinet was first invented around 1700. At the time, composers were demanding more from their musicians, and trumpeters were not able to cope with the fast passages in the ‘clarion’ register, so the clarinet was developed to help them out with the tricky fingerings. At its inception, it wasn’t yet a great instrument. However, some composers started writing for clarinet straight away, including Vivaldi with his Concerto Grosso of 1711.

Swedish clarinettist Martin Frost wondered – what if the clarinet had been a better instrument in its earliest days? What would Vivaldi have written? Maybe something like his vocal works, allowing the three registers of the clarinet to sing? With the help of instrument specialists and the always brilliant Concerto Köln, Frost has created three new ‘Clarinet Concertos’ using Vivaldi’s operatic works.

The soaring beauty of the clarinet is perfect to bring new life to these arias and while maybe their Concerto elements could be argued, it’s immediately apparent that something truly charming has been created. What is particularly interesting is that Frost uses a modified chalumeau – a predecessor of the modern clarinet – in these works. With extra key work added to facilitate the tricky passages, the interplay between Frost’s mellifluous clarinet sound and the Concerto Köln’s bouncy Baroque accompaniment makes you wish Vivaldi had been afforded more opportunity to write for the clarinet.

Kate Rockstrom is a friend of Readings.

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