The Scandinavian composers Andsnes selected all go in for sizzling sonic swooshes often used to transform other music. In a string orchestra piece, "Langsam und Schmachtend," Eivind Buene added a spectral Norwegian eeriness to Wagner's "Tristan and Isolde." Swedish composer Bent Sorensen's Piano Concerto No. 2 ("La Mattina"), written last year for Andsnes and given its U.S. premiere at Ojai, was inspired by Bach and got the swooshing treatment from the orchestra. The piano sonorities were gorgeous, if the concept unsurprising.
What to make of Fröst, who is a dancing clarinetist? In a shortened version of Anders Hillborg's clarinet concerto "Peacock Tales," the soloist was a masked satyr cavorting with licorice stick. Fröst moves extremely well and plays brilliantly, but his clichéd choreography ruins everything. So does his showoff-y rubato. He played and conducted Copland's Clarinet Concerto with moments of sublime sensitivity and, as Tolstoy would say, of disgusting insensitivity. The real surprise was his knack for conducting.