Press Quotes

Great was the piece, great was the Gewandhaus Orchestra, conducted by Vladimir Jurowski and it was great to listen to Kari Kriikku, the most remarkable clarinettist of our times. 35 minutes of sensuous pleasure, pure excitement…

– Leipziger Allmanach, 23rd January 2012
[D’OM LE VRAI SENS, Leipzig Gewandhausorchester/ Jurowski]

He gurgled like hot mud, trilled like a skylark, sank to his knees, wove through the band and played from the circle seats. Finally, he turned ethereal pied piper, with violinists following and repeated notes from a celesta twinkling like the stars. Peter Sellars, no less, designed the staging.

– The Times, 24th October 2010
[D’OM LE VRAI SENS, BBC Symphony Orchestra/Robertson]

The star of the show was the Finnish clarinettist Kari Kriikku who performed with astonishing ease, as though it was the most natural and simple thing in the world.

– Diario de Navarra, 28th February 2013
[Orquesta Sinfónica de Navarra]

… sounds of a clarinet stretching its technique to the outer limits, with high notes beyond anything normally heard from the instrument, including multiphonics—the production of two or more simultaneous tones—weird growls and shrieking glissandos. The Finnish clarinetist Kari Kriikku, for whom the work was composed, handled all this expertly

– South Florida Classic Review, 16th December 2012
[D’OM LE VRAI SENS, The New World Symphony/ Mälkki]

His unbelievable technical precision stands out during his playing, yet it is never out of place nor sterile. Kriikku plays (and tap-dances!) with such heart and temperament that the audience can hardly stay in their seats. Also the musicians and above all conductor Daniel Raiskin let themselves get carried away and make music almost in a flourish,  particularly in H. Mehanna’s “Mashaal”, an oriental piece accompanied by rhythmic drums.

– Rhein-Zeitung, 17th May 2011
[Bazaar Programme/ Staatsorchester Rheinische Philharmonie]

Kari Kriikku at Hollywood Bowl with the LA Philharmonic cond. Joana Carneiro

Kriikku bobs and weaves all over the place as he plays but that fits the style of the piece, which opens with a jazzy, bluesy solo and then has the soloist skittering up and down the keyboard, with the orchestra answering with occasionally dark, ominous chords.

There are several cadenzas written into the work; the most extensive requires the soloist to create multi-phonic sounds (think double-stops on the violin) that resemble bird sounds, sort of a Finn’s take on the music of Olivier Messiaen. For all of that, the ending is surprisingly tonal and majestic. Carneiro led the Philharmonic joyfully through the accompaniment. The audience responded with a vigorous standing ovation, particularly for the soloist.

– Robert D. Thomas
August 2011, classact.typepad.com

The work, a single movement with five interlinked sections, lasts about half an hour. But the score is so eventful it feels like half that time. Throughout, Kriikku negotiated plenty of lightning-fast passagework, and some in the audience laughed in delight during an especially riveting solo where he produced what sounded like birdsong from another planet.

– Rick Schultz
Los Angeles Times, August 2011

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 [Lindberg concerto, NY Phil/Alan  Gilbert]

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 [Lindberg concerto, CBSO/Nelsons]

The outstanding highlight of this concert was the playing of Finnish virtuoso clarinettist Kari Kriikku. We heard sounds from his clarinet that we had never heard before.

– Capital Times, Garth Wilshere, 10th June 2009
[Lindberg Clarinet Concerto with New Zealand Symphony Orchestra]

The Finnish super-virtuoso (…) whizzed through the ornamental intricacies, sustained bel canto grace under pressure and even added stylish embellishment. He did all this, moreover, with the hypnotic concentration of an inspired snake-charmer.

– Financial Times, 18th August 2008 [Mozart concerto]

He (…) performed with startling sensitivity and a warmly fluid tone. The audience in Avery Fisher seemed to be holding its collective breath during one beautiful triple pianissimo moment in the second movement Adagio.

– New York Times, 18th August 2008 [Mozart concerto]

The incorporation of a totally improvised cadenza is a classical gesture rarely encountered these days […] Lindberg must have felt that Kriikku’s ability to extract ideas from the score and throw them into the air was rock-solid. He gave us a truly pyrotechnical display, yet musical substance was manifest even as it burst into flames.

– Paul Driver, Sunday Times, 12th August 2007[BBC Proms/Lindberg concerto/BBC SO/Bychkov]

I shall count myself very clarinetically blessed if I hear anyone else play it with the astounding virtuosity and inventive genius of Kari Kriikku, for whom it was written. And I write “inventive” because at the work’s heart is a cadenza in which the soloist is given responsibility for summing up. Kriikku did that with such sublime deftness – and at the very limit of what was playable and audible – that 5,000 people let out a collective gasp.  […] A perfect concerto, perfectly performed.

– Richard Morrison, The Times, 7th August 2007[BBC Proms/Lindberg concerto/BBC SO/Bychkov]

Finnish clarinettist Kari Kriikku was the solitary star. His ability to get effects out of his instrument was clearly the inspiration behind Tiensuu’s concerto, which plays exclusively on such circus tricks as the soloist singing and blowing into his instrument simultaneously. Krikkuu added to his own technical wizardry a theatricality that overcame the ordinariness of the music.

– The Scotsman, 7th May 2007 [Tiensuu ‘Missa’ Concerto world premiere with SCO]