Hakola: Clarinet Quintet; Loco; Capriole

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LABELS: Ondine
WORKS: Clarinet Quintet; Loco; Capriole
PERFORMER: Kari Kriikku (clarinet), Anssi Karttunen (cello); Avanti! Quartet
Can you have your cake and eat it? The Finn Kimmo Hakola is one of an increasing number of contemporary composers who appears to believe that you can. Thus a composer could include stylistic innovations from the modernist era without dumping traditional ways of thinking; in the same way he/she can invoke Romantic gestures so long as they are framed with plenty of irony. It’s a difficult balancing act, with a high failure rate. I’m not convinced by everything on this disc. The nearly half-hour-long second movement of Hakola’s Clarinet Quintet is compelling at first, though it seems to spend a lot of its time going round and round again in broadly similar circles – it’s minimal, you might say, without quite having the courage to be minimalist. But the first movement is a breathtaking achievement: a sustained rapid flight, full of energy and manic invention. The same energy and bold fantasy can be felt in Capriole, with its resourceful use of just bass clarinet and cello, and at least in parts of Loco. The performances are impressive, and they’re all well recorded. On the evidence of this disc I’d say that a potentially very interesting composer was emerging here. Watch out for the name. Stephen Johnson