“..a physically flamboyant player of Olympian virtuosity…”
The New York Times, February 2010
“Afterward, there was a surprised buzz in the auditorium as listeners confessed to loving a sometimes furiously dissonant piece”. As reported in the New Yorker in March 2010 it is not an uncommon occurrence for this consumate artist to bring his audience to its’ feet, even if the repertoire, or Kriikku himself, is being heard for the first time. On this occasion Kari Kriikku had performed Magnus Lindberg’s concerto for his New York Philharmonic debut in Spring 2010 in Carnegie Hall under the baton of Alan Gilbert.
As a champion of contemporary music the next work to become an important feature of Kari Kriikku’s repertoire list is Kaija Saariaho’s “D’OM LE VRAI SENS”, of which he will give the world premieres throughout the 2010/11 season. Performances will take place with Finnish Radio Symphony and Sakari Oramo, BBC Symphony Orchestra and David Robertson, Swedish Radio Symphony and Orquestra Nacional do Porto, Casa da Musica (where Saariaho is featured as composer in residence) with John Storgårds, l’Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France and Esa-Pekka Salonen at the Présence Festival in Paris, and in Vienna’s Konzerthaus with the Vienna Symphony Radio orchestra under the baton of Cornelius Meister.
Also in 2010/11 Kriikku performs with the Leipzig Gewandhaus directed by Giovanni Antonini, a return invitation to the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra with John Storgårds, performing and recording works of Uljas Pulkkis with the Tampere Philharmonic and Hannu Lintu, and with NDR Hannover he will perform a contrasting programme of “Bizaare Bazaar” - an intriguing compilation of works for clarinet and strings influenced by musical styles of the Middle East and klezmer, which has also culminated in a CD release of this programme on the Ondine label.
Many of Kriikku’s native composers have written for him and aside from the aforementioned works, Kimmo Hakola’s colourful, mesmerising concerto has notably had fantastic performances under the baton of Semyon Bychkov both with WDR Koln and the orchestra of La Scala, Milan. Magnus Lindberg’s concerto was given a spectacular premiere at London’s 2007 BBC Proms Festival with the BBC Symphony and Bychkov. “Puro” and “Missa” by Jukka Tiensuu have had an equally high level of exposure. A recording of “Missa” with the Helsinki Philharmonic and John Storgårds is soon to be released. The recording of Lindberg’s Clarinet Concerto has received critical acclaim, not least contending as a “finalist” in the 2006 Gramophone Awards. It sits amongst Kriikku’s much-celebrated recordings all on the Ondine label. His disc of works for clarinet by Kimmo Hakola was awarded the prestigious Finnish Janne Prize.
Aside from his significant debut with the New York Philharmonic the 2009/10 season also saw Kari Kriikku as soloist with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and Andris Nelsons, with the Helsinki Philharmonic and John Storgårds, Oslo Philharmonic and Jukka-Pekka Saraste, Bergen and Rotterdam Philharmonics, also receiving an immediate reinvitation from the latter.
Kari Kriikku’s musical inventiveness and fresh attitude towards traditional performance have established for him a fascinating and versatile career, not only as a soloist but also as Artistic Director of Avanti! Chamber Orchestra, all of which in June 2009 was further acknowledged as Kari Kriikku was announced recipient of the prestigious Nordic Council Music Prize.