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Anssi Karttunen

  • Cellist


Anssi Karttunen press reviews

NEW YORK TIMES, 5/4/2009 --- Anssi Karttunen, the dynamic Finnish cellist and the soloist in the Saariaho piece, was also engrossing in "Canto di Speranza" for cello and orchestra, a ruminative, grippingly atonal piece from the 1950s by Bernd Alois Zimmermann.

Kaija Saariaho: Notes on Light, Mirage, Chamber Music

THE STRAD, February 2009 --- [On Notes on Light] [Karttunen] (...) played with lyricism and commitment.(...) particularly impressive in the slower movements, where his restless, ever-evolving sounds respond with quicksilver ease to the fleeting orchestral textures. [On Mirage] Karttunen brings a lithe muscularity to the energetic, volatile cello part that seems ready to explode into life at any moment. The Orchestre de Paris under Christoph Eschenbach gives committed performances throughout, not least
in Saariaho's dramatic Orion which completes the disc. The recorded sound is crisp and warm.

WWW.KLASSIK.COM, 6/11/2008 --- Each moment of ‘Notes on Light' reveals that Saariaho is fascinated by, if not obsessed with the sound of the cello. (...) The Finnish virtuoso cellist Anssi Karttunen interprets this, as well as ‘Mirage' with an instinctive sense of Saariaho's sound transformations, as a subtle and precise rendition not only with regard to his solo part, but also to the interaction with the orchestra. (...) This premiere recording could not have been more convincing.

BBC MUSIC MAGAZINE, September 2008 --- The slow unfolding of the solo line in the first movement of Notes on Light - a five movement cello concerto - has the simple inevitability you'd expect from that movement's subtitle: ‘Translucent, secret'. Anssi Karttunen is as impressive in this as he is in the strongly rhythmic music which the work also contains. (...) The sound is clear, and performances have that extra edge which live recording brings.

BERLINER MORGENPOST, 4/4/2008 ---„Mirage" is a chanted invocation of the beyond, unearthly, gripping, challenging. There is nothing comparable in contemporary music. The solo-cello is excitingly virtuosic from the very beginning. Karttunen is an extraordinarily brilliant performer. He evokes an eery atmosphere, in which the vocals dwell.

HANDELSBLAD, 26/11/2008 --- Fantastic music, a dream soloist and a top conductor: the Koninklijk Concertgebouworkest opened their 'contemporary' series 'Recommended adventure' as you might expect. (...) In the cello concerto Notes on Light (2006) by Finnish composer Kaija Saariaho, her compatriot Anssi Karttunen shone phenomenally. It was obvious that she had written the work for him. Saariaho is a wizzard with sounds - within three notes, she places the listener in a magical glittering world of sound. Nevertheless Karttunen takes the lead as the soloist - like a guide, both expressive and virtuosic, he remains at the forefront, unassumingly truthful in this colour-rich atmosphere.

THE NEW YORK TIMES, 16/8/2008 --- Ms. Saariaho composed "Notes on Light," an unconventional cello concerto, last year for the brilliant soloist here, the Finnish cellist Anssi Karttunen. (...) As always in a Saariaho score, color is primary, and Mr. Karttunen showed a mastery of myriad colorings in his rhapsodic performance.

DAGENS NYHETER, 14/10/2007 --- When the brilliant cellist Anssi Karttunen takes the Cello Concerto "Notes on light" under his wing, the audience encounters a significantly more austere and introvert story. There is a virtuosic fluidity in the restless ball game between soloist and orchestra in the second movement (...). The fourth movement is possibly most remarkable as the solo cello falls completely silent for quite a while, as if swallowed by the black hole of the music. A snarling maelstrom meanders slowly and searchingly through the Orchestra before Karttunen lets the cello trill again icily and glide upwards to the last high F sharp, the painfully sought-after destination of the whole concerto - the "heart of light", the subject of the poem by T.S. Eliot which is quoted in the score. Karttunen as well as Jukka-Pekka Saraste who premiered "Notes on Light" at the beginning of the year interpreted the work consistently, fascinatingly and without a doubt congenially.

BOSTON HERALD, 24/2/2007 --- Saariaho, a 54-year-old Finn who has resided in Paris for more than three decades, has written several previous works for her virtuosic countryman Karttunen, and it's an admirable partnership indeed. (...) It is rare when a new work sounds completely convincing and lucid at first hearing; thanks to Saraste and Karttunen, that was the case with "Notes on Light."

Concert at the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival

THE NEW YORK TIMES, 5/8/2008 --- (...) a fascinating contemporary-music program featuring Anssi Karttunen, a brilliant Finnish cellist (...).Luigi Dallapiccola's arresting "Ciaconna, Intermezzo e Adagio" (1946), for cello solo, is the kind of visceral music that may cause listeners who fear the term "12-tone" to have an epiphany. Berio's "Sequenza XIV" (2002) ingeniously explores the sound possibilities of the cello (...). Mr. Karttunen played both works commandingly. The Finnish composer Kaija Saariaho (...) was in attendance for Mr. Karttunen's performance of her "Sept Papillons" (...) a suite of short (roughly a minute each), capricious, vividly colorful fantasy pieces in the spirit of Schumann. Each explores a different cello technique or musical element, like fluttering rhythmic riffs or eerie, thin tunes hovering over weird pedal tones.

Dutilleux: Concerto for cello and orchestra Tout un Monde lointain

LOS ANGELES TIMES, 26/5/2008 --- (...) music from a world far away, which is the translation of the French title of Henri Dutilleux's bewitching, Baudelaire-besotted cello concerto, "Tout un Monde Lointain" (...) written for Mstislav Rostropovich in 1970 (...). Dutilleux's concerto served as an invitation to dream. Lines from Baudelaire inspired music lethargic and restless, lost in love. The cello sings as trembling soul, the orchestra often shimmers in delicate textures. Rostropovich played the solo as a world up close -- intense, dramatic, darkly seductive. Karttunen, instead, illuminates. He makes the most virtuosic passages sound natural. He achieves a wider range of colors than I've ever heard from the cello. The stunning playing Friday was in a class of its own.

EL MUNDO, 24/5/2005 ---Elegance, clarity and concision - the virtues one frequently finds in French music - are the characteristics of the concerto for cello and orchestra Tout un Monde lointain... composed by Dutilleux in 1970 and well expressed by orchestra and conductor, but especially by the excellent soloist Anssi Karttunen. The purity and solidity of his sound was clearly stated from the first moment, as his agility and vivacity gave life to all that might have been close to the risk of becoming static, especially in the slow movements of this work.

AVUI (Barcelona), 23/5/2005 --- The protagonist was the excellent Finnish cellist Anssi Karttunen, keen advocate of contemporary music and frequent collaborator of great orchestras who did justice to the work because he subordinates the enormous technical demands to the dialogue leading to an enrich discourse posing Baudelaire questions with the contemplation of the soul, the escape towards the horizon or the inertial question of whether the origins are in the abyss or in the deep sky.

International Cello Festival, Manchester

THE GUARDIAN, 10/5/2004 --- Finland and the Far East were the focus for this year's RNCM International Cello Festival, though the two major orchestral concerts with the BBC Philharmonic mainly showcased Finnish works. (...) Though a much tougher piece, Magnus Lindberg's Cello Concerto explored the gentler regions of the cello sound with a cadenza of breathtaking delicacy in which its dedicatee, Anssi Karttunen, held the audience spellbound.

Magnus Lindberg: Dos Coyotes, Konzertstück, Cello Concerto

SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE, 15/5/2008 --- Andrew Wyeth had Helga, Scorsese had De Niro, and composer Magnus Lindberg has Anssi Karttunen, the brilliant cellist who has inspired and performed some of his most important works. (...) the pair offered a program devoted almost exclusively to the composer's recent music (...). It was yet another reminder of what a difference the right performer can make. (...) Karttunen's contributions helped lighten the proceedings, bringing both rhythmic buoyancy and a sort of charming intensity to the performance. His keenest moment in the spotlight [was] a virtuosic account of "Partia," a vivid and often gritty take on Bach's solo cello suites.

LOS ANGELES TIMES, 10/8/2006 --- Tuesday night, back in Sherwood, Lindberg and the phenomenal Finnish cellist Anssi Karttunen played a new work for cello and piano that is as yet untitled. (...) Lindberg, who with Esa-Pekka Salonen and Kaija Saariaho has been putting Finnish music on the map for a new generation, is a composer with a visceral sense of harmony. But the physical power of his sound has been softening of late. The new 15-minute work has thick chords and delicate trills that seem to fill the air with heady, languid sensuality. Yet it still has power, and the virtuosity on display was arresting, given that Lindberg is a superb pianist and Karttunen perhaps the most impressive cellist on the scene today.

PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 13/11/2004 --- The piece is smartly planned, with the orchestra framing the video and the cello soloist (the excellent Anssi Karttunen) acting as an East-West mediator.

Tan Dun: The Map

MÜNCHNER MERKUR, 14/7/2006 ---Tan Dun's composition becomes authentic through short inserted film fragments documenting the diverse musical cultures of the composer's home Hunan. (...) The cellist Anssi Karttunen mastered the task with the highest devotion not only reacting simply to the recorded music. He also made perfect use of the opportunities to improvise granted by the composer and moved confidently on this musical map, with which Tan Dun has managed to bridge the gap between old and new.

Salonen: Mania für Solocello und kleines Orchester

AACHENER ZEITUNG, 7/3/2005---The spirited but not at all show-affected Salonen was given afterwards a chance to speak as a composer with his seventeen-minute piece "Mania" for solo cello and ensemble. A forward-pressing sound study, whose constantly changing and sophisticatedly articulated sound structures act as background and dialogical interaction to the highly virtuosic cello part. Anssi Karttunen, for whom this piece was tailor-made, was the justly celebrated soloist.