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Reviews of the Lindberg Cello Concerto performance in London 7.2.2002 with the Philharmonia Orchestra and Esa-Pekka Salonen:

The Sunday Times 17.2.2002

"...the dense 1999 Cello Concerto, a big, refractory, glintingly impassioned work whose London premiere at the QEH benefited from the amazing Anssi Karttunen, a soloist who could persuade anyone of anything."

Paul Driver

The Guardian

"...The solo writing is fiendish - it was written for Anssi Karttunen, who played it superbly here. Everything builds towards a big cadenza (unusually these days, left to the soloist's own invention),"

Andrew Clements

The Times

"...Cello Concerto, written in 1999 and receiving its British premiere with the mesmerising Anssi Karttunen as soloist..."

Richard Morrison

Financial Times

"...One of the new-to-London works was Lindberg's recent Cello Concerto for the tireless virtuoso Anssi Karttunen (can anybody else actually play it?), in which perpetual interplay and echoing between soloist and orchestra form the main burden."

David Murray

The Daily Telegraph

"The concerto is a typically active piece, with an exacting solo part played with commanding power and agility by the dedicatee, Anssi Karttunen."

Geoffrey Norris

Ojai: Performances at festival both virtuosic and playful

Lindberg's Cello Concerto, which had just been given its world premiere by Salonen and the Toimii cellist Anssi Karttunen in Paris three weeks ago was on the program in Libbey Bowl with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and it was more virtuosic still. I don't know that a concerto has ever requireda cellist to leap about with such agility as Lindberg's new piece does, and I have never heard a cellist play with a touch as light as Karttunen's. He seems to skim on the strings with bow and fingers as if this were music as sleight of hand, meant to amaze. Other Finnish contributions to the festival included Kaija Saariaho's wondrously sonorous "Amers" for cello and ensemble (Karttunen again was the unbelievable soloist).

Mark Swed, Los Angeles Times 7.6.1999

Magnus Lindberg's Cello Concerto

There was also a world premiere last week, of Magnus Lindberg's Cello Concerto - commissioned by the Orchestre de Paris with Rostropovich as prospective soloist, but Lindberg decided to write it for Karttunen instead. Reasonably enough, since Karttunen is not only a close collegue, but an ultramodern world-class virtuoso. Where soloists are concerned, Lindberg revels in far-out virtuosity.

David Murray, Financial Times 12.5.1999

The Beauvais cello festival

The Finnish cellist Anssi Karttunen played three shorter solo studies by Berio, Betsy Jolas and Kaija Saariaho with scorching intensity. He is among the most brilliantly creative cellists alive. No wonder Magnus Lindberg got away with accepting a commission for a new cello concerto next year while insisting that it should be for Karttunen instead of Yo-Yo Ma, the soloist of first choise! Here, the composers were as amazed, gripped and braced as the rest of us by what Karttunen made of their brief pieces.

David Murray, Financial Times 20.5.1998

A Finn´s New York debut

Anssi Karttunen, a rising Finnish cellist, recently made his American orchestral debut with Mr. Salonen and the Los Angeles Philharmonic; on Monday night, he made his New York debut with an intriguingly constructed program of 19th- and 20th- century music.

The highlight of the program was its most recent entry: "Moto" by Magnus Lindberg, a Finnish composer who has become one of the most intriguing voices in contemporary European music. Composed last year for Mr Karttunen, "Moto" is a shimmering post-serialist soundscape, rigorous in design and impressionistic in effect. Mr Karttunen, accompanied at the piano by Tuija Hakkila, brought off the complex sonorities with fierce conviction. The performers had a similar command of Anton Webern's Sonata and "Three little Pieces."

Mr Karttunen's tonal versatility brought to life two tango pieces by Astor Piazzolla and the Sonata No 2 of Enescu; ... in Schumann's Romances and Fantasy Pieces the intensity and intelligence of the playing overwhelmed any doubts about technique.

Alex Ross, New York Times 11.1993

20th-Century Solo Cello

Anssi Karttunen imbues what can sometimes be quite complex writing with ease and understanding. He is able to draw a thread through the myriad of textures, and generate a marvelously interesting variety of sound. His enthusiasm for this music is unquestionable, and this is coupled with a formidable technical armoury... Of all the works on this fascinating disk, I found Ysaye´s Sonata the most appealing, in terms of colour and virtuosity, pursuing an improvisatory quality that veritably sparkles in the hands of Karttunen.


Complete Beethoven works for Cello and Piano Vol. 1

Anssi Karttunen plays an English cello with a pleasantly buzzy tone and prominent upper harmonics, and Hakkila´s fortepiano is based on a Walter of 1795. The result is bright, almost brilliant, in tone, and the overall effect is much more forceful than we expect from traditional modern performances.... The forthright, nervous, powerful, but above all accurate, performances of all the works bring the music to life most vividly. These young Finnish artists truly understand the spirit of early romanticism...


A. Karttunen and T. Hakkila play as if they really are exploring ideas of startling novelty, daring each other on, and pushing their instruments to the limits of their capabilities... In the op.5 No.1 Sonata they recreate the energy of those two itinerant virtuosos, Beethoven and Duport, in whose hands the work first came to life. Rhythms snap one against the other, as the sudden mischiefs of brief song, so prophetic of the compact dramas of the op.10 piano sonatas, spring to new life.


Complete Beethoven works for Cello and Piano Vol. 3

Anssi Karttunen and Tuija Hakkila play on period instruments with spaciousness and flexibility of phrasing, complemented by keen attention to the finer points of articulation; a seemingly effortless command of their instruments, which is put entirely at the service of the music, never succumbing to bravura display; and an ideal instrumental balance is beautifully enhanced by the recorded acoustic.

Hakkila is one of those all too rare fortepianists who never slam into the keys, forcing the instrument beyond its optimum dynamic range - a failing especially rife in "period" Beethoven. Nor does Karttunen opt for the doctrinaire ban on vibrato that makes so many "historical" performances so tedious. The sound is certainly denser than one expects of conventional cellists, but never distractingly or frustratingly so. Their mutual discourse is a joy to hear, each player beautifully sensitive and responsive to his/her partner with no hint of jeopardy to the overall unanimity of view.

***** -rich, musicanly playing, warrants repeated listening.