Classical CD Reviews

MOZART & MOLTER: Clarinet concertos – Kari Kriikku, clarinet in D & basset clarinet/ Tapiola Sinfonietta/ John Storgårds – Ondine

Even better than Benny Goodman, Kari Kriikku swings the classics!

Published on February 15, 2006

MOZART & MOLTER: Clarinet concertos – Kari Kriikku, clarinet in D & basset clarinet/ Tapiola Sinfonietta/ John Storgårds – Ondine
MOZART & MOLTER: Clarinet concertos – Kari Kriikku, clarinet in D & basset clarinet/ Tapiola Sinfonietta/ John Storgårds – Ondine ODE 1056-2, 62:19 mins. *****:
 
This totally brilliant new recording of the Mozart clarinet concerto, coupled to three concertos by Johann Melchior Molter (1696-1765), provides a showcase for the Finnish virtuoso Kari Kriikku and demonstrates Ondine’s ability to successfully record mainstream classical repertoire as successfully as its recent recording of the Philadelphia Orchestra.

Whether in the Molter concertos or on Mozart’s beloved basset clarinet, which gives the solo part not only an extended lower register (which adds a darker tone), Kriikku phrases with unusual elegance and freedom, even adding delightful embellishments occasionally. It is a very different Mozart interpretation than the standard-setters by Robert Marcellus and Thomas Fröst, and its combination of just how the implications of authentic performance practice must be for modern performers puts Kriikku in a class by himself, feline like a cheetah, liberating the music from what too often becomes a state of dreamlike complacency into a world of exhilarating magic.  Very refreshing in purely entertainment sense, and highly illuminating in a musical one. His performances of the much lighter weight Molter pieces are also a joy, ideal for clearing the musical and audio palettes before tasting the wine.

The sound, as one has come to expect from Ondine, is pure audiophile in its clear and clean definition, natural and full range, on a convincing open sound stage (recorded in the Tapiola and Sello Halls in Espoo on the southern coast of Finland). In the three Molter concertos, there is a shrill, trumpet-like aspect to the D clarinet Kriikku uses, while in the Mozart the basset clarinet has a beautifully smooth, dark tinged sound. Good program notes.

- Laurence Vittes   
 




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