Magnus Lindberg Clarinet Concerto

Commission: 2001-2 commissioned by the Finnish Broadcasting Company, the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra and Stockholm Concert Hall Foundation, and Radio France.

Publisher: Boosey & Hawkes

Magnus Lindberg on his clarinet concerto:

I wrote the Clarinet Concerto for Kari Kriikku, whom I’ve known since the late 1970s: he studied harmony with me at the Sibelius Academy. So after 25 years I think we’ve developed quite an understanding – and I couldn’t have written it without him. During the summer, I work at my cottage on an island in the Gulf of Finland: the house has been in my family since the 1830s and it’s where I grew up. Kari Kriikku lives on the outskirts of Helsinki and though I could drive to his house, it’s much easier to take the boat. So each spell of writing the concerto ended with a wonderful recreation, a boat trip! It was a perfect reward.  The Clarinet Concerto is a big work, not in length but in scale. Kari’s first words to me were “Write something fortississimo for the orchestra but allow the clarinet to be heard!” So often with new music, people are afraid of putting solo instruments against a loud orchestra.  But we did it! Of all my works, the Clarinet Concerto is one I still have a lot of affection for.

14th September 2002 – Helsinki: Finlandia Hall –  Finnish Radi0 Symphony  –  Orch. / World première  Cond: Jukka-Pekka Saraste 75th birthday concert for FRSO

Recording: released by Ondine July 2005

Kari Kriikku/Sakari Oramo/Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra


Press quotes

Perhaps, in this cost-conscious time, it makes economic sense to stick with the warhorses, yet one of the loudest ovations of the month went to the New York Philharmonic, when it presented the American première of Magnus Lindberg’s Clarinet Concerto. Kari Kriikku gave a transcendent virtuoso performance, raucous and rhapsodic by turns, and Alan Gilbert and the orchestra supported him avidly. Afterward, there was a surprised buzz in the auditorium as listeners confessed to loving a sometimes furiously dissonant piece. It was auspicious to see the formerly backward-looking Philharmonic embracing new music amid a slew of greatest hits.

– Alex Ross, The New Yorker, 22nd March 2010

Mr. Kriikku, a physically flamboyant player of Olympian virtuosity, tackled with aplomb the athletic demands of this rewarding and rigorously constructed single-movement work, whose five sections have allusions to Brahms, Debussy and jazz. Making his debut with the Philharmonic on Saturday, Mr. Kriikku played with a glowing tone and sensual spontaneity in the rhapsodic interludes. He offered a breathtaking cadenza, performing acrobatic feats in the instrument’s highest range.

– Vivien Schweitzer, New York Times, 14th February 2010

What a marvellous contemporary piece this is, propelled across 25 minutes with certainty of purpose and rainbow exuberance in the company of the solo performer, Kari Kriikku, the amazing Finn. Through his lips came sounds usually considered beyond the clarinet’s ken or a player’s lungs: extraordinary subtle sighs and tweets; breaths and deftness without end; molten virtuosity. The orchestra produced their own dazzle, whipping through the fast-changing textures with electrifying zeal. Five stars for that part.

– Geoff Brown, The Times, 30th November 2009