“With full, bright, immediate sound, the Finnish clarinettist Kari Kriiku gives dazzling performances of these three delightful clarinet concertos.
In many ways he's even more daring than his rivals, regularly choosing speeds that stretch virtuosity to the limit, particularly in the finales. Those of Nos 1 and 2 may be marked allegretto merely, but Kriiku, by choosing exceptionally fast speeds, brings out an extra scherzando quality, often sharp and spiky, in which Crusell's characteristically dotted rhythms are delightfully crisp. The almost impossibly rapid tonguing never seems to get in the way of detailed characterisation.
Johnson (above) in her recordings is altogether more relaxed, regularly adopting speeds rather broader, extremely so in the Alla Polacca which ends No 3. Consistently, her pointing of rhythm brings out the fun in the writing, and in her comparably broad approach to slow movements she finds extra poetry. Partly as a result of the immediacy of the recording, Kriiku's pianissimos aren't as extreme, yet in flair and panache Kriiku is second to none, superbly supported by the crisp, purposeful playing of the Finnish National Radio orchestra under Sakari Oramo.
An excellent disc, guaranteed to win friends for these sparkling works.”