Kari Kriikku, clarinet

"A physically flamboyant player of Olympian virtuosity..." (The New York Times)

Kari Kriikku has been a living inspiration behind a great number of remarkable Finnish compositions for the clarinet. On stage and through recordings, he has championed concertos and chamber works written for him by Kimmo Hakola, Jouni Kaipainen, Magnus Lindberg, Kaija Saariaho, and Jukka Tiensuu. Above all, Kari Kriikku has premiered the entire output for clarinet by Magnus Lindberg. His recording of the Clarinet Concerto earned him both a Gramophone Award and a BBC Music Magazine Award in 2006 (ODE 1038-2). Furthermore he has championed the clarinet works of Jukka Tiensuu. Both concerto works Puro ("brook", or "Bach" in German; ODE 778-2) and Missa (ODE 1166-2) he has performed more than fifty times.

Kari Kriikku has appeared internationally with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, the BBC Symphony, the New York Philharmonic, the Oslo Philharmonic, the Orchestre Philhamonique de Radio France, the Vienna Radio Symphony, the Swedish Radio Orchestra, La Scala of Milan, the German orchestras of WDR Koln and Leipzig Gewandhaus, the Rotterdam Philharmonic, the Netherlands Philharmonic, the London Sinfonietta, and the Ensemble Intercontemporain. He has worked with such conductors as Vladimir Ashkenazy, Semyon Bychkov, Alan Gilbert, Vladimir Jurowski, Susanna Mälkki, Andris Nelsons, Sakari Oramo, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Jukka-Pekka Saraste, John Storgårds and Osmo Vänskä. Kari Kriikku has performed chamber music with the Arditti Quartet, the New Helsinki Quartet, the Avanti! Quartet, the Borodin Quartet, and the Jean Sibelius Quartet, as well as together with such musicians as Natalia Gutman, Aleksei Lyubimov, and Yuri Bashmet.

His musical inventiveness and fresh attitude towards traditional performance have established for Kari Kriikku a fascinating and versatile career as a soloist and in chamber music. Since the early 1980's, his membership in the Toimii Ensemble and (as artistic director since 1998) in the Avanti! Chamber Orchestra naturally led him to contemporary music and also to performances that break the bounds of conventional concerts. Kari Kriikku has also performed repertoire of the Classical era and has recorded concertos by Bernhard Henrik Crusell (ODE 965-2), Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Johann Melchior Molter (ODE 1056-2), and Carl Maria von Weber (ODE 895-2) to great international acclaim. In 2009, Kari Kriikku became the recipient of the prestigious Nordic Music Council Prize.

More information:
Official Website
Avanti! Chamber Orchestra
Konzertdirektion Schmid

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full discography

Discography (extract)


Four Preludes and Serious Songs

Detlev Glanert

Distant Land (Music with Brahms for Orchestra)


Op. 120 No. 1 (Clarinet Sonata No. 1 for clarinet and orchestra by Luciano Berio)

Michael Nagy, baritone

Kari Kriikku, clarinet

Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra

Olari Elts, conductor

ODE 1263-2

Released 01/2017

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Finland 100

A Century of Finnish Classics

5 CD collection celebrating 100 years of Finland's independence

Orchestral Works I & II


Vocal Works

Chamber Music

Various Finnish artist, orchestras and conductors


Released 11/2016

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Magnus Lindberg
Chamber Works
Kari Kriikku
Anssi Karttunen
Magnus Lindberg
ODE 1199-2

Released 08/2012

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Kaija Saariaho
Clarinet Concerto "D'OM LE VRAI SENS"
Laterna Magica
Leino Songs
Kari Kriikku, clarinet
Anu Komsi, soprano
Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra
Sakari Oramo, conductor
ODE 1173-2

Released 08/2011

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