Anssi Karttunen has always been on the cutting edge of classical music performance and is one of the most innovative cellists in today’s international music scene. He started learning the cello as a 4-year-old in Finland, a uniquely fertile ground for music and musicians, and subsequently built up a worldwide reputation both as a soloist and chamber musician. In his repertoire, he takes a fresh look at the well-known masterpieces and brings forgotten works to the public ear, as well as making own original transcriptions. He plays on modern, classical, and baroque cellos, as well as violoncello piccolo and electric cello. The latter features prominently in his current multimedia solo recital, which includes works by Kaija Saariaho, Thierry Pécou and Pablo Ortiz with images, video and electronics.
Anssi Karttunen is a passionate advocate of contemporary music. He has performed over 170 world premieres, collaborating with such composers as Magnus Lindberg, Kaija Saariaho, Pascal Dusapin, Luca Francesconi and Tan Dun. An astounding 29 concertos have been written for him. He premiered Magnus Lindberg’s Cello Concerto No.1 with the Orchestre de Paris and Cello Concerto No. 2 with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Esa-Pekka Salonen’s Mania with Avanti! and Luca Francesconi’s Rest with the RAI Torino. Kaija Saariaho wrote her concerto Notes on Light for Karttunen and he premiered it with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, who commissioned the work. Since 2007, he has performed the concerto over 50 times with the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra, Swedish Radio, NDR Symphony Orchestra, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Orchestre de Paris, and the New World Symphony among others. In 2018, he premiered Betsy Jolas's Side Roads with the Swedish Chamber Orchestra and Gérard Korsten, which was recently released in a recording with the Orchestre d’Auvergne. Future plans include premieres of new works by Antti Auvinen, Ramon Lazkano and Sean Shepherd.