Hakola: Clarinet Concerto; Verdoyances crepuscules; Diamond Street

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5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

COMPOSERS: Hakola
LABELS: Ondine
ALBUM TITLE: Hakola
WORKS: Clarinet Concerto; Verdoyances crepuscules; Diamond Street
PERFORMER: Kari Kriikku (clarinet); Finnish RSO/Sakari Oramo
CATALOGUE NO: ODE 1063-2
To describe the Finnish composer Kimmo Hakola as ‘eclectic’ is putting it mildly. His 40-minute Clarinet Concerto is a riotous assortment of styles: Balkan or Yiddish folk music, modern jazz

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and jagged modernism, rock music and the Classical parlour piece…

As the finale breaks into klezmer wedding music, the orchestral players noisily join in with a welter of shouts and cries embedded in a general buzz of excited conversation – naked pictorialism beside which Richard Strauss’s bleating sheep in Don Quixote seem musically domesticated. It’s all done, and performed, with such élan that it’s hard not to enjoy the vitality, though after a while a little voice at the back of the brain begins to ask how it’s all meant to fit together – and why?

Does this wild collage of musical images have a point to make, or is it just all flung together for the hell of it?

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The orchestral Verdoyances crépuscules (which Hakola translates as ‘Verdant Twilight’) is more single-minded, and the final tranquil Aurora borealis-like washes of sound are memorably beautiful. But this, too, seems to start in one place and end in another for no obvious reason. The performances are most impressive: the crazily athletic cadenza writing in the Concerto and Diamond Street clearly holds no terrors for Kari Kriikku. Stephen Johnson