Crusell: Clarinet Concertos / Kriikku, Oramo, Finnish Radio SO

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Finnish composer Bernhard Crusell (1775-1838) was clarinetist in Stockholm's opera orchestra, a position he held for more than 40 years, during which time his chosen instrument experienced much development and refinement-- beginning with simple a two-keyed instrument and evolving to the 11-key model in use at the time of his death. (The Albert and Böhm clarinets would come much later). It's probable that Crusell was one of the first clarinetists to play with the reed resting on the lower lip, resulting in the full, warm sound we associate with instrument today. Crusell studied composition with Berton and Goessec, and his travels brought him into contact with Mendelssohn, Weber, and Meyerbeer. His compositional output included chamber music, opera, and concert works, including these 3 Concertos for clarinet and orchestra.

With solo writing that was advanced for its time, Crusell's concertos show a good deal more imagination and virtuosity than Mozart's. Lyrical singing lines characterize the E-flat concerto, and you can almost imagine a coloratura soprano taking the clarinet's place. The B-flat concerto is in the French style patterned after Kreutzer, and features a lively march in the first movement and an Alla polacca finale, popular among the Parisians. The Concerto in F minor, the most mature of the group, is distinguished by its highly evolved thematic development and deeply felt emotional expression, especially in the beautiful Andante pastorale.

Kari Kriikku is a stunningly assured clarinetist, and plays these remarkable pieces with irresistible flair, joyful abandon, and flawless musicianship. Conductor Sakari Oramo gives special attention to the brilliantly written orchestral parts, expertly and enthusiastically performed by the Finnish Radio Symphony. Ondine's recording provides an ideal and realistic balance between soloist and orchestra, but adds a touch of hall resonance that slightly colors the sound. Nonetheless, this recording is a must for lovers of the clarinet and concertos.

-- Victor Carr Jr.,

Product Description:

  • Catalog Number: ODE965

  • UPC: 761195096529

  • Label: Ondine

  • Composer: Bernhard Henrik Crusell

  • Conductor: Sakari Oramo

  • Orchestra/Ensemble: Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra

  • Performer: Kari Kriikku