ClarinetKari Kriikku
© Marco BorggreveArtist

„He offered a breathtaking cadenza, performing acrobatic feats in the instrument’s highest range.“

The New York Times
12 / 31


“Afterward, there was a surprised buzz in the auditorium as listeners confessed to loving a sometimes furiously dissonant piece” [NY Philharmonic/Alan Gilbert/Carnegie Hall/Magnus Lindberg concerto]. As reported in the New Yorker it is not an uncommon occurrence for this consumate artist to bring his audience to its feet, even if the repertoire, or Kriikku himself, is being heard for the first time. 

A champion of contemporary music for the 2016/17 season Kari Kriikku has looked to the more intimate sized ensembles for new additions to his repertoire.  For the  2016 with Quattour Diotima they will perform a new chamber work of Kaija Saariaho’s, “Figura”,  which will be further premiered at the 2017 Présence Festival, Paris.   He brings Michel van der Aa’s “Hysterisis”, to Tapiola Sinfonietta.   This work for small ensemble and electronics Kriikku himself co-commissioned giving the Finnish and Dutch premieres with Lapland Chamber Orchestra and John Storgårds and returning to Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw Hall with the Amsterdam Sinfonietta, later recording the work.  As a member of the Toimii! Ensemble he will perform Magnus Lindberg’s “Kraft” in Luxembourg.


Highlights in 2016/17 season also include his third return to the New York Philharmonic performing Kaija Saariaho’s D’OM LE VRAI SENS with Esa-Pekka Salonen, performances with RTE Orchestra Dublin/Sachio Fujioka, Swedish Radio Symphony with Susanna Mälki, Iceland Symphony/Anna-Maria Helsing and Lahti Symphony Orchestra with Dima Slobodeniouk.

Highlights of other new works Kriikku has premiered include Unsuk Chin’s clarinet concerto (2014) with Gothenberg Orchestra and Kent Nagano.  Performances continued with New York Philharmonic and Alan Gilbert for the US premiere, WDR Cologne Orchestra, the Orquesta Sinfonica de Barcelona and London’s Philharmonia Orchestra with Nicholas Collon.  He has performed it under the baton of Ilan Volkov both with Glasgow’s BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra and Malmö Orchestra, with Finnish Radio Symphony and Jukka-Pekka Saraste, and in Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw with Netherlands Radio Philharmonic under the baton of Xian Zhang.

Kaija Saariaho’s “D’OM LE VRAI SENS”, received its’ premiere performance with Finnish Radio Symphony and Sakari Oramo, Kimmo Hakola’s colourful, concerto under the baton of Semyon Bychkov (WDR Koln and La Scala, Milan), and Magnus Lindberg’s concerto with a spectacular premiere at London’s 2007 BBC Proms Festival with the BBC Symphony and Bychkov. Kriikku has recorded all these works for Ondine including Jukka Tiensuu’s “Missa” with the Helsinki Philharmonic and John Storgårds.  Lindberg’s Clarinet Concerto recording was nominated in the 2006 Gramophone Awards and the new Saariaho work with Finnish Radio Symphony and Sakari Oramo won the Jury’s Award at the BBC Music Magazine Awards 2013.

Kari Kriikku’s musical inventiveness and fresh attitude towards traditional performances not only as a soloist, commissioner but also as Artistic Director of Avanti! Chamber Orchestra, have been further recognized when in 2009, Kari Kriikku was announced recipient of the prestigious Nordic Council Music Prize. 

Season 2016/2017


““D’om le Vrai Sens” (2010), the next work, a substantial concerto for clarinet and orchestra, was written for her Finnish compatriot Kari Kriikku, a brilliant clarinetist, who performed it here commandingly […] In certain episodes, he sounded like an avant-garde jazz clarinetist, all reedy lines, rude bleats and banshee shrieks”

New York Times, Anthony Tommasini, 14.10.16

“Kriikku has been electrifying every time I’ve seen him perform”

The New Yorker, Alex Ross, 31.10.16

“Unsuk Chin’s Clarinet Concerto provides a glistening showcase for clarinettist Kari Kriikku’s perfectly tuned multiphonics and transcendental technique.”

The Guardian, Andrew Clements, 23.10.15

“It was partly the hugely charismatic soloist in clarinettist Kari Kriikku […] who performed the piece with vigour and enormous wit, prancing around the orchestra to duet with different players and delivering the hugely virtuosic clarinet line as if it were a jazz solo”

The Scotsman, David Kettle, 09.03.15

“Kriikku demonstrated extraordinary virtuosity and flexibility […] This was a stupendous performance of a thoroughly engaging and creative work”

Classical Source, Lewis M. Smoley, 09.2014

“The virtuosity behind Kriikku’s playing dazzles”

Bachtrack, Mark Pullinger, 24.09.14

Go back


Brahms-GlanertBrahms-Glanert: Four Preludes and Serious Songs, Detlev Glanert: Weites Land, Brahms-Berio: Op. 120 No. 1Jan. 2017, Ondine, CD, Available on: iTunes Amazon
Saariaho: Clarinet ConcertoKari Kriikku, together with Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra and Sakari Oramo, performs D’OM LE VRAI SENS - the work which was written for him by Kaija Saariaho.Aug. 2011, Ondine, CD, Available on: iTunes Amazon
Uljas Pulkkis Tales of Joy, Passion and LoveA discs featuring music by Pulkkis with the Tampere Philharmonic and Hannu LintuJun. 2011, Ondine, CD, Available on: iTunes Amazon
Tiensuu: MissaKari Kriikku performs the clarinet concerto ny Tiensuu with Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra and John StorgårdsOct. 2010, Ondine, , Available on: iTunes Amazon
Essential Highlights of Kari KriikkuEssential highlights for Kari KriikkuApr. 2010, Ondine, CD, Available on: Amazon
Bizarre BazaarWorld music featuring Kari Kriikku, Tapiola Sinfonietta and conductor Jan SöderblomApr. 2009, Ondine, CD, Available on: iTunes Amazon