Crusell: Clarinet Concerto in B flat, Op. 11; Clarinet Concerto in F minor, Op. 5; Clarinet Concerto in E flat, Op. 1

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COMPOSERS: Crusell
LABELS: Ondine
WORKS: Clarinet Concerto in B flat, Op. 11; Clarinet Concerto in F minor, Op. 5; Clarinet Concerto in E flat, Op. 1
PERFORMER: Kari Kriikku (clarinet); Finnish RSO/Sakari Oramo
CATALOGUE NO: ODE 965-2
Crusell’s concertos have never quite achieved the popularity they deserve and, despite their overtly appealing style, have always been overshadowed by the works of Weber and Spohr. They were all written during the first two decades of the 19th century and, while perhaps slightly less inventive than the Weber pieces, are beautifully crafted and tremendously enjoyable. In addition to maintaining a career as a composer, Crusell was one of the leading clarinettists of his time. He, therefore, had an unrivalled insight into the capabilities of the instrument with the result that his writing always sounds completely intuitive. Kari Kriikku performs beautifully in every respect, combining wonderfully expressive playing in the lyrical sections with effortless virtuosity in the bravura passages, and he always sounds absolutely committed. He also manages to convey a real sense of fun and gives the impression that he is enjoying every moment, a quality that often seems lacking in a world where such importance is placed on accuracy for its own sake. Equally impressive is the stylish support from the excellent young conductor Sakari Oramo whose sprightly tempi and intelligent balancing allow some entertaining dialogue between soloist and orchestra. This disc should set the standard for future performances. Tim Payne

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