Classical Editor: Rob Barnett                               Music Webmaster Len Mullenger:

Bernhard Henrik CRUSELL (1775 - 1838)
Concertos for Clarinet and orchestra, op.11 in Bb, op. 5 in F minor, and op.1 in Eb
Kari Kriiku, clarinet, Finnish Radio Symphony/Sakari Oramo
Ondine ODE 965-2 [63:57]
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I confess that I had always regarded Crusell as a kind of poor man's Weber; interesting to clarinettists, but not much more. That was until I heard this remarkable recording. I was hooked right from Kriiku's first entry, which happens about 12 seconds into the first concerto. Whichever way you look at it, he is an amazing performer. His tone has just the right mixture of brilliance and sensuous beauty; his technique is flawless, and he throws off the most mind-boggling passages with arrogant panache; and, most important of all, he brings so much imagination and humour to this music.

The result is that its qualities became apparent to me in a way that they never have done before - a revelation! For imagination, try a passage like the cadenza of the slow movement of op.11, leading to a wonderfully soft reprise of the main theme; pure magic. For humour, listen to the Finale of the F minor Concerto (easily the best of the three pieces, by the way). Kriiku's playing of the final flourish actually made me laugh out loud, which doesn't often happen when listening to music! I found myself reflecting that Crusell would have flourished in the jazz era - these concertos were written for himself to play, and he was clearly a real showman.

These are truly stunning performances, and Kriiku is superbly supported by Oramo and the excellent Finnish RSO. They bring out the delightful details that abound in the orchestral accompaniments, and contribute in a most positive way. The recording is also outstanding, creating a perfect balance between soloist and orchestra, allowing all those details to be heard without any 'spotlighting', and never losing the clarinet in the more heavily scored passages. NOT TO BE MISSED!

Gwyn Parry-Jones

If in difficulty by all means contact the UK distributors:

Discovery Records Ltd
phone 01672 563931
fax 01672 563934

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