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Michala Petri, recorder
Mahan Esfahani, harpsichord
Australian Daily Classical Music on UK-DK
Australian Daily Classical Music
30 October 2010

Imaginative Programming
Music for recorder and harpsichord from Denmark and the UK -recommended by GEOFF PEARCE
'... this partnership works very well musically ...'   

First looking at the instrumentation, I imagined that this disc would consist of somewhat astringent neo-baroque music, so I was surprised by the range of styles portrayed. It was really good to see this representation of Danish composers known by recorder player Michala Petri, and much of the music here was written for her. She is very ably partnered by Mahan Esfahani on harpsichord, and this partnership works very well musically — one could not ask for better.
The first work, a Malcolm Arnold Sonatina, is uncomplicated, full of charm and contains the best of Arnold's lyricism. Its three movements are a very happy Cantilena, followed by a Chaconne, a little darker in character, and ending with a cheerful rondo. The artists' partnership here is exemplary.
Henning Christiansen was not known to me, but his work it is Spring, written for six-year-old Michala Petri, is absolutely charming. The opening 'Allegretto', redolent with birdsong, is evocative, quite beautiful and suits the sopranino recorder very well.
The very short closing second movement, derivative of the first, almost seems an afterthought. It ends abruptly, almost in an interrupted or unfinished way.
In the last year of his life, Gordon Jacob wrote a lovely work for Michala Petri — a four movement Sonatina. The opening Allegro, even though quite virtuosic, is never flashy, but always lyrical and joyous.
The second movement, a minuet, begins with a flourish, is quite florid in places, and is, I believe, a homage to yesteryear. The writing is crystal clear and the artists' partnership here is very inspiring.
The third movement is an Adagio which speaks directly to the soul in a heartfelt way, and the last movement is a virtuosic Gigue.
The prolific Vagn Holmboe, composer of some 370 or so works, provides a Sonata written for Michala Petri. The first movement is happy, uncomplicated music, at times reminding me a little of Hindemith. The second movement surprised me with an almost Japanese flavor, reminiscent of shakuhachi and koto. The final Allegro was lovely and evocative.
There are some interesting effects too — at one point I thought I heard singing, and Petri was vocalizing at the same time as she was playing.
The next piece, Tourbillon, by Daniel Kidane — not someone I was familiar with — depicts a watch escapement movement as it counters the effects of gravity. It is somewhat mechanical, but also beautiful at the same time, and interesting to listen to. To quote the cover notes: 'Both instruments take on the idea of breaking away from gravity, but at the same time, they are constrained by moments of tranquility'. Repeated hearings will help you uncover what you will not pick up the first time through. Persevere!
Whilst on a skiing holiday in Switzerland, Benjamin Britten (a keen recorder player) wrote a suite of pieces, originally conceived for three recorders. This is easy listening, and I particularly enjoyed Swiss Clock and Nursery Slopes.
Axel Borup-Jørgensen wrote a quite substantial Fantasia for Michala Petri. It is the most challenging work on this album for the listener (and possibly also for the performers). Unlike anything else I have ever heard, it will require repeated listenings, but is interesting, both melodically and texturally. The two complementary instrumental parts are often quite independent of each other, the more melodic phrases of the recorder contrasted with muted harpsichord.
The final little work, a ballad by Gordon Jacob, was again written in the last year of his life. It is quite folky, and has a section where Michala Petri vocalizes whilst playing — something that intrigued the composer.
I recommend this wonderful disc, and I know that I will dip into it quite often. Hats off to both performers for their commitment to partnership, imaginative programming and the feeling of completeness.
Copyright © 21 March 2015 Geoff Pearce,
Sydney, Australia

Australian Daily Classical Music

Michala Petri, recorder
Mahan Esfahani, harpsichord
Classical Ear on UK-DK
Classical Ear
30 October 2010
Classical Ear (UK)

UK DK – Works for recorder and harpsichord by Arnold, Borup-Jørgensen, Britten, Christiansen, Holmboe, Jacob and Kidane
Michala Petri (recorder), Mahan Esfahani (harpsichord)
OUR Recordings 6.220611 (SACD) ****(*)

What at first glance seems like an unlikely pairing with which to play contemporary music turns out to provide a wealth of interesting new sonorities – or rather old sonorities in new and unfamiliar guise. The idea here is to juxtapose Danish and British composers, most of whom have written or arranged works specifically for Michala Petri over the years (the only exception being Britten, whose Alpine Suite was originally written for a recorder trio). As the pair have already established in more traditional baroque repertoire, Petri and Esfahani are not afraid to experiment or push boundaries. Here boundaries are forcibly shoved aside and fascinating new/old sonorities are revealed, notably in the modernism of Daniel Kidane's restless Tourbillon and Axel Borup-Jørgensen's unabashedly avant-garde Fantasia, where any old-fashioned ideas of soloist and accompanist are entirely abandoned. An album for aficionados, certainly, but one that also shows these instruments need not be treated as museum pieces.
–Mark Walker (Classical Ear, 3 April 2015)
Classical Ear

Michala Petri, recorder
Mahan Esfahani, harpsichord
Ronald E.Grames great review in Fanfare on UK-DK
Fanfare Magazine
21 October 2010
Fanfare Review 2
Collections: Instrumental

UK DK    Michala Petri (rcr); Mahan Esfahani (hpd)    OUR RECORDINGS 6.220611 (SACD 66:27)

ARNOLD Sonatina for Recorder and Piano, op. 41. H. CHRISTIANSEN It is Spring. JACOB Sonatina for Recorder and Harpsichord. An Encore for Michala. HOLMBOE Sonata for Recorder and Harpsichord. KIDANE Tourbillon. BRITTEN Alpine Suite. BORUP-JØRGENSEN Fantasia

Hard on the heels of the marvelous Arcangelo Corelli sonata CD from this duo, featured in Fanfare 38:4, is this delightful fraternal twin of a release. Where the Corelli release explored the expected estate of harpsicord and recorder, this release turns its attention to the less well-known 20th-century revival of the instruments in new music. Central to this has been the advocacy of contemporary music for the recorder by virtuoso Michala Petri. Benjamin Britten is the only composer here with no connection to Petri, and in fact he left no solo work for recorder and harpsichord, though he played the baroque wind instrument and used it in several opera scores. Alpine Suite (1955) is a set of short impressions of a skiing trip to Switzerland. One of the trio of travelers injured an ankle and Britten wrote—and joined in the performance of—a suite for recorder trio to pass the time. That version has been recorded by the Flautadors for Dutton Epoch, and it also appears in the Decca Britten Complete Works. This is an arrangement by Esfahani and Petri which, while it creates a very different effect than the original with its close-harmony homogenous trio, is still quite charming.
The other piece not written for Petri is the Malcolm Arnold Sonatina, op. 41. Composed in 1953 (not 1962 as cited in the track listing) it is the last of a set of four sonatinas written for colleagues and friends. Piano provided the original accompaniment. Played with harpsichord, a change sanctioned by the composer for Petri and her harpsichordist mother Hanne, the plucked sound of the harpsichord adds an eerie background to the arcadian recorder and a lighter feel to the Chaconne. Both work, with little to choose in the Rondo finale, though it must be said that hearing again Jill Kemp's recording (MMC)—the only one with recorder and piano—makes me appreciate all the more Petri's remarkable breath control and the flawless intonation it supports.
Several of the pieces here date from when Petri played in a trio with her mother and cellist brother David and some were written by family friends. Avant-garde composer Henning Christiansen wrote It is Spring (1970) for Petri when she was 12. It is the antithesis of Darmstadt-inspired radicalism: tonal, unsophisticated, inspired by nature, it evokes the longing for birdsong and warmth at the end of a long Northern winter. Similarly accessible, though not so purposefully naïve, the Sonata, op. 145 was the third work written by another family friend, Vagn Holmboe, for the Petri ensemble. It is also inspired, as are many of his works, by the beauty of nature, and is notable for the restrained emotionalism of the writing, especially in the haunting Andante. The Allegro scherzando final movement appealingly requires Petri to vocalize as she plays, a skill that amused and impressed another composer, Gordon Jacob. Jacob was not a family friend, but so struck was he by Petri's playing of his Suite for Treble Recorder and String Quartet that he agreed to write a piece for her and her mother. The result was this Sonatina for Recorder and Harpsichord, completed in 1983 when Jacob was 88. It is a four-movement work of great charm, very much in Jacob's warmly idyllic neo-Classical style. Its lovely melodies and perfectly shaped structure show no diminution of his powers. Neither does the lovely An Encore for Michala, sent along with the Sonatina. It includes a segment in which she again hums the melody accompanied by her own playing. Petri has recorded both of the Jacobs works before, the first with her mother in 1987 and the later in 1993 with Lars Hannibal on guitar (both RCA). I suspect the latter was written for Hanne's harpsichord, but I actually like the guitar a bit better in this gentle work. There is no denying, though, that Petri has gotten better, in the intervening years, at vocalizing and playing while maintaining the core tone of the instrument. I also like the softer ictus and longer ring of Hanne Petri's instrument in the Sonatina, though if pressed, I have to say that Esfahani is the more imaginative partner and Petri's approach has matured, most telling in the Menuetto.
The remaining two works both have a connection to friend and student Elisabet Selin. Axel Borup-Jørgensen was Selin's father and the Fantasia, op. 75 (1975, rev. 1988) was written for her and Petri to perform. In fact, Selin recorded the work in 1988 for Danish Radio, and that recording appeared on OUR Recording's early 2014 release of all of the Danish composer's works for recorder (Fanfare 37:5). Her reading, with mother Ingrid Myrhøj, underlines the fantasy, the lyric elements of the score, and its connection to birdsong and nature. Petri and Esfahani emphasize the modernity, and the silences between the bright, spiky statements of the sopranino recorder and its dialog with the harpsichord. Both illuminate this fascinating work.
The other piece, and the newest (2014), was commissioned by Elisabet Selin from English composer Daniel Kidane specifically for Petri and Esfahani. Titled Tourbillon, it is inspired by the device added to mechanical escapements to make the watch more accurate by countering the effects of gravity. The work is, as the composer describes it, "intricate and virtuosic" and meant to suggest an attempt to escape structural gravity. The word means whirlwind in French, and certainly that is an apt description of parts of it. It is a challenging work for performers and listener.
I've gone on at some length without referring, except in passing, to the performances themselves. Perhaps that is because it goes without saying that anything this superstar pairing puts its hands to will be extraordinary. They are favored by state-of-the-art engineering, recorded in DXD ultra-high resolution in a supportive acoustic. The result is beautifully clear, present sound in both layers. The booklet is quite attractive, and, an error or two aside, the notes informative, though not, perhaps, to the same degree as the earlier Corelli and Borup-Jørgensen releases. One small annoyance: There is not enough spacing between works. A few more seconds would have been much appreciated.
Recommended? Without a doubt! It is a wonderful program, imaginatively presented. I just hope that Esfahani's exclusive contract with Deutsche Grammophon will not preclude further silver-disc meetings of this dynamic duo. Ronald E. Grames March 2015

Fanfare Magazine

Michala Petri, recorder
Mahan Esfahani, harpsichord
Great 5 Star review in Pizzicato on UK-DK
Pizzicato Magazine
21 October 2010
Blockflöten-Höhenflüge  21/03/2015 

– Rezension von Remy Franck 

Dieses britisch-dänische Programm der dänischen Blockflötistin Michala Petri und des iranisch-amerikanischen Cembalisten Mahan Esfahani beginnt mit
Malcolm Arnolds Sonatina in einer frischen und verspielten Aufführung. Es folgt das lustige 'It's Spring' von Henning Christiansen, von Michala Petri mit überschäumender Energie gespielt. Die elegante Sonatina von Gordon Jacob und die flatterhafte Sonate von Vagn Holmboe geben den beiden Interpreten weitere Gestaltungsmöglichkeiten, in denen sie ihre stimulierende und sich gegenseitig befruchtende Partnerschaft unter Beweis stellen.

'Tourbillon' des 1984 geborenen Daniel Kidane ist neben Axel Borups 'Fantasia' das modernste Stück der Sammlung und vielleicht auch das im Ausdruck ernsthafteste. Sehr stimmungsvoll und charakteristisch ist die überaus reizvolle 'Alpine Suite' von Benjamin Britten, die hier ganz evokativ gespielt wird.
Insgesamt also eine überaus attraktive Zusammenstellung, die einmal mehr von Michala Petris exzeptionellem Talent für Blockföten-Höhenflüge zeugt.

This is a delightful release, with partly very playful, partly more serious music which allows Petri and Esfahani once more to join their talents for highly expressive and characteristic performances.
Pizzicato Magazine

Michala Petri, recorder
Lan Shui, conductor
Chinese Recorder Concertos
East Meets West
5 out of 5 stars for Chinese Recorder Concertos in UK Music Magazine Musolife
Musolife Magazine
13 October 2010
This excellent album is the third release in OUR Recordings "Dialogue-East meets West" project and features concertos by four Chinese, Chinese-American and Taiwanese composers. The variety of tonal colours and textures that Michala Petri and the Copenhagen Symphony Orchestra coax from their instruments is spectacular. There is great energy in these performances, and the balance between the soloist and the orchestra is spot on.
Petri uses newly designed Mollenhauer and Moeck Ehlert recorders, which project well and are therefor never overpowered, even in the percussive orchestral passages. The works themselves are so well constructed that the recorder soars effortlessly out from the rich textures.The influence of the dizi or bambooflutes, for which some of the concerts were originally scored, is clear. While Petri uses special techniques including glissandi, flutter.tonging and different kinds of vibrato to emulate the Chinese instruments, she also makes the concertos very firmly the recorder's own.
Tang Jianping's "Feige" sounds almost like a film score, particulary in the second movement's emotionally charged tenor recorder parts, the cadenza of Ma Shui-Long's "Bamboo Flute Concerto", meanwhile, showcases Petri's celebrated virtuosity. Perhaps the most evocative work, however, is by Chen Yi. "The Ancient Chinese Beauty" is a fascinating piece with great contrasts and wonderful interplay between the recorder and the orchestra.
Jill Kemp- Sept. 2010
Musolife Magazine

Michala Petri, recorder
Mahan Esfahani, harpsichord
Great Raymond Tuttle review Fanfare (1) on UK-DK
Fanfare Magazine
30 September 2010
Fanfare Review 1

UK DK ● Michala Petri (rcr); Mahan Esfahani (hpd) ● OUR 6.220611 (SACD: 66:27)
ARNOLD Sonatina, Op. 41. CHRISTIANSEN It is Spring. JACOB Sonatina. An Encore for Michala. HOLMBOE Sonata, Op. 145. KIDANE Tourbillon. BRITTEN Alpine Suite. BORUP-JØRGENSEN Fantasia, Op. 75
First, a few words about this disc's title. The composers represented here are either Danish ("DK") or British ("UK"). As for the performers, Michala Petri is a Dane, and Mahan Esfahani, although he is Iranian-American, has the large letters "UK" appearing next to the booklet's biographical note about him. That is because he has been very active in England, and currently makes London his home. Petri, as the saying goes, needs no introduction. Esfahani, who was born in 1984, probably is about to become much better known, because he signed with Deutsche Grammophon last year, and his first solo release for that label should be on the "shelves" (if one can continue to use that term) by the time you read this review. He's already released a Corelli disc with Petri (also reviewed by me in this issue), and a couple of very well-received releases for Hyperion.
All of these works were composed specifically for Petri. The two exceptions are Britten's Alpine Suite (a work he composed in 1955 while he and Peter Pears were on a skiing holiday in Switzerland) and Malcolm Arnold's Sonatina, which dates from 1962. Both are played in arrangements. It was Arnold himself who suggested to Petri that she might perform the Sonatina with harpsichord accompaniment. Britten's suite was composed for three recorders; the arrangement for recorder and harpsichord that is heard here is by the performers. One notes that Petri should be very used to playing with a harpsichord, not just because of her Baroque repertoire, but also because her mother Hanne is a harpsichordist. (Furthermore, her brother David is a cellist.)
This is an enjoyable release, although much of the music is feather-light, not just in texture but also in importance. Weight is added, however, by the Daniel Kidane's Tourbillon and Axel Borup-Jørgensen's Fantasia. Kidane, who was born in 1986, has composed an interesting work not based on a whirlwind, as the title might suggest, but on a watch mechanism that bears that same name. In horology, a tourbillon counteracts the effects of gravity on a watch's escapement. Kidane writes, "Both instruments take on the idea of breaking away from gravity but at the same time are restrained by moments of tranquility." The recorder and the harpsichord are equals in this work, which, while lacking the rhythms of jazz, has something of modern jazz's spontaneity and jaggedness. I'm glad that it was included on this disc because, among all the sweets, it gives listeners something meaty on which to chew.
The Fantasia by Axel Borup-Jørgensen, who died in 2012, is less restless than Kidane's Tourbillon, and less a piece of clockwork, if you will, but it also treats the two instruments as equals. Although its language is seldom consonant, and it is not easy to discern what the composer is trying to communicate, one senses the presence of a personality, and so one's attention remains engaged.
Petri plays four recorders on this disc—sopranino, soprano, alto, and tenor—and Esfahani plays a Dowd harpsichord from 1981. The OUR Recordings engineering team has balanced them against each other perfectly, but the success really is Petri's and Esfahani's, because they clearly are in synch with each other. Petri's wonderful, genial skill remains unchanged since she first appeared on the international scene in the 1970s. Esfahani is an unusually expressive, colorful player, and I look forward to hearing him in a solo role—I probably will check out those Hyperion releases, now that I have heard him here.
UK DK is a nice outing for two talented musicians, and furthermore, the repertoire is surprising and sometimes demanding, and always worth the listener's effort. Raymond Tuttle February 2015
Fanfare Magazine

Michala Petri, recorder
Mahan Esfahani, harpsichord
UK-DK gets 5 star (Full House) in Classical Music Magazine
Classical Music Magazine
28 September 2010
Classical Music Magazine (UK)

An inspired follow-up to the same artists' recent Corelli disc, this pairs Arnold, Jacob and Britten with Vagn Holmboe and younger, lesser-known compatriots Henning Christiansen and Axel Borup-Jorgensen. Petri is as appealing as ever, on sparkling form, and Esfahani convinces utterly even when the original work was written for piano instead. Lovely SACD sound. Classical Music Magazine 5 star (Full house)
Classical Music Magazine

Michala Petri, recorder
Mahan Esfahani, harpsichord
Great Music Web International review on UK-DK
Music Web International
28 September 2010
Malcolm ARNOLD (1921-2006)
Sonatina for recorder, op.41 (1962) [7:08]
Henning CHRISTIANSEN (1932-2008)
It is spring, op.56 (1970) [6:54]
Gordon JACOB (1895-1984)
Sonatina for recorder and harpsichord (1983) [9:15]
Vagn HOLMBOE (1909-1996)
Sonata, op.145 (1980) [10:51]
Daniel KIDANE (b.1986)
Tourbillon (2014) [10:53]
Benjamin BRITTEN (1913-1976)
Alpine Suite (1955) [6:49]
Axel Borup-JORGENSEN (1924-2012)
Fantasia for sopranino recorder and harpsichord, op.75 (1988) [11:52]
Gordon JACOB
An Encore for Michala (1983) [1:58]
Michala Petri (recorder)
Mahan Esfahani (harpsichord)
rec. Garnisons Kirke, Copenhagen, Denmark, 22-25 October 2014
OUR RECORDINGS 6.220611 SACD [66:27]

I began my review of this delightful CD of compositions for recorder and harpsichord with the relatively little known Alpine Suite by Benjamin Britten. This was written whilst the composer was on holiday with Peter Pears and the artist Mary Potter in Zermatt, Switzerland in 1955. It was originally conceived for a trio of recorders, but has been effectively transcribed for solo recorder and harpsichord by Petri and Esfahani. In my opinion this arrangement works better, is fresher and quite charming. There are six movements with evocative titles such as 'Nursery Slopes', 'Down the Piste' and a romance, 'Swiss Clock'. My only concern is that it is over all too soon.

I then moved onto Malcolm Arnold. Arnold provided Michala Petri with a number of works including a Concerto op. 123 (1988), the Fantasy for solo recorder, op.127 (1987) and a Fantasy for recorder and string quartet, op 140 (1990). The present Sonatina, op. 41 was composed in 1953 — the liner notes state 1962, and refer to it as a Sonata — for recorder and piano. It was originally dedicated to Philip Rogers. The composer gave Michala Petri permission to play this work with harpsichord. It is an attractive Sonatina that could be considered 'neo-baroque' with its nods towards Handel. However, there are one or two phrases here that could only have been written by Arnold.

The Sonatina for recorder and harpsichord by Gordon Jacob is a real treat. Composed in 1983 for Michala Petri, in the year before he died, it is a well-wrought work that is immediately approachable without being banal or pastiche. It is written in the composer's neo-classical/baroque style with some delightful harmonic twists, which display interest and clarity of sound in equal measure. It has four short movements.

Jacob's 'An Encore for Michala' is truly lovely. Written in the same year as the Sonatina it features not only the recorder, but the recorderist singing at the same time. Seeing this effect described in words may make the putative listener wince, but it has to 'heard to be believed'.

The most recent piece on this CD is 'Tourbillon' by the British composer Daniel Kidane. It was written in 2014, for Elisabet Selin, who had requested 'a very exciting and demanding piece'. Kidane has many musical heroes including Olivier Messiaen, J.S. Bach and Johnny Cash. I feel the 'modernity' of 'Tourbillon' works admirably although there is nothing of the 'Folsom Prison Blues' here. The music owes its inspiration to the composer's interest in the mechanical action of watches. One key feature of this work is the fact the both instruments act independently and do not lead each other. It is a successful piece and fulfils Selin's wish.

The score of Henning Christiansen's 'It is Spring', op.56 includes the following note: 'Longing for Spring. The weather is grey and gloomy/But a girl is standing playing the sopranino now.' It provides all the background the listener requires. There is nothing challenging or advanced about this piece: it is just full of the joy of living: all gloom is cast away. The sound is almost timeless.

Axel Borup-Jorgensen's Fantasia for sopranino recorder and harpsichord, op.75 which was composed in 1988 is what used to be called 'avant-garde'. It is a little bit 'plinkity-plonkity' for my taste but nothing particularly challenging to a child of the musical sixties and seventies. In fact there are not a few attractive moments in this piece. I do admit that the high-pitched 'sopranino' recorder does not go down to well with a headache. Not my favourite piece, alas.

Vagn Holmboe, like many other composers eschewed the attractions of the post-war avant-garde and wrote music that is largely tonal. He penned a number of works for Michala Petri including a Concerto, a Trio and a 'Canto e danza' on a Spanish song. Holmboe's Sonata is immensely attractive and often beautiful. It explores a wide variety of moods in its three short movements. This is the most accomplished work on the CD.

This is a well-presented disc with a striking cover and booklet. Nevertheless, I do struggle to read the liner-notes when they are black print on a grey background. I guess that artiness sometimes wins out over utility. A good introduction to both artists is included in the booklet. The sound quality of the CD is splendid.

Readers of my reviews may have realised that the recorder is not my favourite instrument: my antipathy towards it goes back a long way. Yet this present CD is so well performed by Michala Petri and Mahan Esfahani that I can heartily commend it without any sense of insincerity. 'Back to backing' English and Danish music is a great idea, although I do confess a parochial preference for the English pieces.

John France

Music Web International

Marcus Creed, Conductor
L'amour et la foi
Vocal Music by Olivier Messiaen (1908 - 1992)
Great "5 note" review in Pizzicato on Messiaen!
Pizzicato Magazine
01 September 2010
Von naivem Glaubensausdruck zu surrealistischen Liebesgedichten

L'amour et la foi; Olivier Messiaen: 3 Petites liturgies de la Présence Divine, O sacrum convivium, Cinq rechants; Marianna Shirinyan, Klavier, Thomas Bloch, Ondes Martenot, Danish National Vocal Ensemble, Danish National Concert Choir & Danish National Chamber Orchestra, Marcus Creed; 1 SACD Our Recordings 6.220612; 2014 (59'03) – Rezension von Remy Franck  18.05.2015

Die 'Trois petites Liturgies de la Présence Divine' komponierte Olivier Messiaen in den Kriegsjahren 1943 und 1944. Sie drücken den Glauben des Komponisten in die Gegenwärtigkeit Gottes in allen Dingen aus. Die vorliegende Neuaufnahme bringt diesen naiv-kindlichen Glauben in einem schillernden Farbenspiel und wirbelnder Bewegungsrhythmik zum Ausdruck. Das kurze Stück 'O sacrum convivium' bringt introspektive Ruhe, ehe die 'Cinq Rechants', ein A capella-Werk, das Messiaens sogenannte Tristan-Trilogie beschließt, uns in eine ganz andere Klangwelt entführen.

Drei Sopran-, Alt-, Tenor- und Bassstimmen singen in Texturenvon Unisono und Hoquetus bis zu zwölfstimmiger Polyphonie, und Messiaens Augenmerk gilt hier der Rhythmik. Der Komponist erklärte, er habe Silben ausgewählt « wegen der Weichheit oder Gewalt ihres Anstoßes, wegen ihrer Fähigkeit, die musikalischen Rhythmen zu betonen. Sie erlauben eine einfache Kombination der vier Kategorien: des Phonetischen (Klangfarbe), des Dynamischen (Intensität), des Kinematischen (Betonungen) und des Quantitativen (Dauern)". Das zeigt, welche Anforderungen hier an die Solisten gestellt werden. Marcus Creeds Leitung ist von extremer Klarheit und begegnet der Liebesthematik mit einer gewissen strengen Kühle, die manchmal an Stravinsky erinnert und das Surrealistische in Messiaens Musik in fast beängstigender Weise wiedergibt.

This SACD with vocal music by Olivier Messiaen shows different aspects of his music, from the most naïve expression of faith in Trois petites Liturgies de la Présence Divine to the surrealistic feast of love in Cinq Rechants. The vocal qualities of the Danish ensembles are enthralling.

Pizzicato Magazine

Danish National Vocal Ensemble
composer: Francis Poulenc (1899 - 1963)
Half Monk | Half Rascal
Choeurs a capella
Great 5 star review on Half Monk-Half Rascal in UK Magazine Classical Music
Classical Music Magazine
12 August 2010
5 star review (-full house!)

"Half Monk-Half Rascal" they called him. Poulenc's deep religious conviction shining through just as clearly in some works as his irreverent sense of humour did in others. Layton deftly contrasts both worlds on this disc and response of his Danish singers in works including the Sept chansons and Chansons francaises is both idiomatic and precisely-judged. A lovely record. Guy Weatherall, June 2012
Classical Music Magazine

Danish National Vocal Ensemble
composer: Francis Poulenc (1899 - 1963)
Half Monk | Half Rascal
Choeurs a capella
Overwhelmimg 5 star review on Half Monk-Half Rascal in BBC Music Magazine
BBC Music Magazine
08 August 2010
5 out of 5 stars!

No one is pretending Poulenc's melodies and instrumental music are without their performing problems. But, rather curiously, he left many of his most fearsome challenges for his choral music: in phrasing, balance, articulation, register and, above all, tuning. For every piece that sits comfortable in a modal armchair, there's another that stuns with chromatic leaps and bounds – and often the two styles interlock.
So one approaches every new recording of this repertoire with slight trepidation. Twenty seconds is usually enough. As it was here. After which all I could say was "Hoorah!" And I went on saying it, interspersed every now and again with "Wow!" (initially the soprano top B on track 4). I see I'm now less than a half way through the review, and I suppose if I just went on writing "Hoorah!" and "Wow!" my editor might have to reduce my fee, which of course could be a serious matter. But really my only cavil is over a few errors in the printed French and Latin texts.Of the performances, I have to say this is some of the most beautiful and moving choral singing I have ever heard. I suppose you could query the performance of the secular items in a resonant church. But it dosen't worry me, given the spirit and energy of the singing. Words too are crystal clear, with excellent French. Am I allowed to say "Hoorah!" And "Wow!" once more? Next stop,- please, "Figure humaine." Roger Nichols BBC Music Magazine June 2012
BBC Music Magazine

Michala Petri and Lars Hannibal
Café Vienna
19th Century Café Music
All Music America on Cafè Vienna
All Music America
25 July 2010
Café Vienna is an interesting departure for Our Recordings, the label run jointly by guitarist Lars Hannibal and recorder virtuoso Michala Petri. Usually the focus, apart from the outstanding artistry of these musicians, is on contemporary and/or Baroque music, but this collection is centered in the early nineteenth century -- an important period for Hannibal's instrument -- and in Vienna's coffee culture which was raging at the time. For this program, Petri takes advantage of the busker's long tradition of adapting music not written for her instrument, such as the flute or violin. However, in some cases the pieces here are written for instruments even more arcane than the recorder, such as the Csákány in the work by Ernest Krähmer, therefore Petri and Hannibal succeeds in reviving music that would normally not be revived anyway.

North American listeners will take great interest in Carulli's Fantasie sur un air National Anglais, Op. 102, as the "air National Anglais" happens to be "God Save the King," also the tune of an official national anthem in the USA, "America." Variation sets on this tune are numerous in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, but as this is a fantasy, once the theme is stated the music goes its own direction in a very attractive way. Another standout is the Beethoven Sonatina in C major, WoO 44a; it's a relatively simple and pleasant tune that fits very well on the recorder and Petri plays this little Beethovenian bon bon with obvious enthusiasm and joie de vivre. There really isn't any weak material on this CD; the only thing that seems to stick out from the rest is the Krähmer as the recorder seems recorded a bit more closely and it's an exceptionally bright track. But the disc as a whole has a wonderfully rounded feel to it that suggests the gently relaxed atmosphere of the coffee house and its special blend of aromas, the musicianship is top flight and Our Recordings' Café Vienna would make for a great counterpoint for Saturday afternoon gardening and other relaxing activities that require some measure of concentration -- the music is as warm and agreeable as a cup of coffee, but will not compete with one's train of thought
All Music America

Marcus Creed, Conductor
L'amour et la foi
Vocal Music by Olivier Messiaen (1908 - 1992)
BBC Music Magazine on "L´amour et la foi"!
BBC Music Magazine
07 June 2010
The music is truly extraordinary. " Làmour et la foi" (Love and faith) presents a trinity of Messiaen's vocal works. The explicitly religious love of Trois petites liturgies de la Présence Divine is juxtaposed with the surreal and erotic love of Cinq rechants, the short communion motet O sacrum convivium! Providing a buffer between these work's intense emotions. It is a heady mix of rich harmonies, texts expressing fervent love, birdsongs, fluid rhythms and exotic elements (gamelan for the Litgurgies, Sanskrit- and Quechua-inspired invented words for the Rechants)
This music is also difficult, friendishly so in the Rechants. It is no small thing, therefore, to say that, in terms of accuracy of pich, harmony, rhythm and balance, this is the best sing performance on disc of these works, especially the Rechants. Moreover, it is captured in a marvelous surround sound. So why is it ultimately underwhelming?
At the time of these works, Messiaen was described as being a "Atomic bomb in contemporary music" by critic and composer Virgil Thomson, while Pierre Boulez has said there was a "wiff of Sulphur" about his activities. There is no such power, intensity or danger here and certainly no sense of ecstatic religious abandon. Far from whipping up to a frenzy, the repeated cries of "pour Nous" that close the second Liturgies become mildly excited. Sadly, given the excellent execution by the Danish forces, these performances somehow make this remarkable music seem ordinary.
Christopher Dingle Performance 3 Stars Recording 5 Stars
BBC Music Magazine

Palle Mikkelborg
Going To Pieces - Without Falling Apart
10/10/10 in German Music Magazine Klassik Heute on Going to Pieces Without falling Apart!
Klassik Heute Magazine
16 April 2010
Nach etlichen Jahren Vorbereitungszeit ist für Michala Petri und OUR Recordings ein Traum wahr geworden: ein gemeinsames Projekt mit der dänischen Jazz-Legende Palle Mikkelborg. Die Liste der Namen, mit denen Mikkelborg gespielt und für die er auch komponiert hat, liest sich wie ein Who-is-who des Jazz: Gil Evans, Miles Davis, Peter Herbolzheimer, Terje Rypdal oder Jan Garbarek, um nur einige zu nennen. Als Trompeter, Bandleader, Arrangeur und Komponist vereint er viele Talente in sich. Going to pieces without falling apart wurde vom Titel eines Buches des New Yorker Psychiaters Mark Epstein inspiriert, das Mikkelborg zufällig in einem Schaufenster gesehen hatte. Auf Grundlage eines 2004 entstandenen Werkes für Violine, Harfe und Streicher adaptierte Mikkelborg den Violinpart für die vorliegende Aufnahme für Michala Petri. Die zwölf Teile der Komposition tragen sinnträchtige Titel – vielleicht als Resonanz seiner vielen Begegnungen mit Musikern aus den verschiedensten Kulturkreisen. Für Mikkelborg liegt die besondere Faszination dieser Begegnungen in den gemeinsamen „Obertönen", die die Menschen ungeachtet ihrer religiösen oder kulturellen Herkunft weltweit verbinden. Trotz der bildhaften Satzüberschriften will er sein Werk genauso als absolute Musik verstanden wissen.
Und in der Tat, schon nach kurzer Zeit legte ich bei Anhören der CD das Booklet zur Seite und ließ mich von den Klängen treiben und von der Magie der Musik entführen. Going to pieces without falling apart ist kein Doppelkonzert im herkömmlichen Sinne – in manchen Sätzen dominiert klar nur eines der beiden Soloinstrumente, in einigen wird die musikalische Entwicklung vor allem von den Streichern bestimmt. Eher sind es Stimmungsbilder, in denen sich verschiedenste musikalische Einflüsse zu einem faszinierenden, poetischen Ganzen vereinen. Zu den für mich schönsten Momenten zählen etwa der siebte Satz Gentle Summer Rain, ein atmosphärisches Intermezzo mit tropfenden Glissandi der Soloharfe, das vibrierende Spiritual Carousel  mit bedrohlichen Klangschichtungen oder Lullabies, in denen Flöte und Harfe sich über dem unwirklichen Murmeln und Raunen der Streicher abwechseln.
Mikkelborgs Musik entzieht sich jeglicher Kategorisierung – gerade das macht sie so speziell. Seine Musik ist Verbindung. In besonderem Maße gilt dies auch für das zweite Werk der CD Afterthoughts, in dem Mikkelborg auch persönlich als Spieler eine Spur hinterlassen wollte. Diese „Nachgedanken" greifen bewusst Motive und Stimmungen aus Going to pieces auf (etwa die erwähnten Harfenglissandi oder die dramatischen Cluster) und reihen sich derart organisch an das Hauptwerk, als ob es ein natürlicher Teil desselben sei. Wunderschöne Musik zum Nachsinnen, Träumen und Hoffen – klar, unmittelbar und ehrlich. Musik unserer Zeit im besten Sinne des Wortes.
Michala Petris kristalliner Ton, Helen Davies ausdrucksvoll-sonores Harfenspiel und nicht zuletzt Mikkelborgs charakteristischer, mystischer Trompetensound machen die Aufnahme zu einem besonderen Hörerlebnis. Henrik Vagn Christensen führt das hervorragend disponierte Orchester aus Sønderborg einfühlsam durch die Partitur und lotet dabei die lyrischen Stimmungen ebenso wirkungsvoll aus wie die dramatischeren Momente.
Musik für lange Winterabende und laue Sommernächte, Musik, die man gerne immer wieder hören möchte, weil sie zutiefst menschlich ist.

Heinz Braun

Wertung: 10 / 10 / 10

Klassik Heute Magazine

Michala Petri and Lars Hannibal
Café Vienna
19th Century Café Music
Interview with Michala Petri and Chen Yue in AllMusic Blog
AllMusic Blog
14 April 2010
Michala Petri & Chen Yue: A Dialogue Between East & West
May 1st, 2009 | 7:11 am est | Uncle Dave Lewis

Recorder virtuoso Michala Petri is a long established phenomenon in the classical music world, and as a performer she is quite astounding. While the average enthusiast would be happy to get a decent tune out of the recorder, Petri can pull off ripping glissandi that can make one's hair stand on end or find shades of dynamics on the instrument one would not think possible. While many of the classical music ingenues who first appeared circa 1980 have moved on to other pursuits, Michala Petri remains busier than ever. In recent years, she and her husband, classical guitar virtuoso Lars Hannibal, have been running a label called OUR Recordings, which has swiftly established itself as one of the world's premier artist-led recording concerns. Petri and Hannibal travel the world as a performing duo, and in China, Hannibal discovered Chen Yue, who is to Chinese bamboo flutes what Petri is to the European, wooden variety. To record Chen Yue and Michala Petri together, an entire repertoire had to be created, as there was no standing literature combining recorder and Xiao or Dizi. Nevertheless, the association has thus far produced two outstanding discs, Spirits and Dialogue. In our dialogue with Michala Petri, AMG's Uncle Dave Lewis spoke with Michala Petri and Chen Yue via phone from Denmark.

AMG: Michala, you have been quite busy lately, releasing both the Dialogue CD with Chen Yue and this in-concert album with Kremerata Baltica celebrating your 50th birthday. Not all women — particularly among classical music artists — are quite so forthcoming with their ages. What led to you to come forward with that information in such a public forum?

Michala Petri: I always enjoy having a reason to celebrate something, especially when it involves celebrating along with musicians I like very much, like the Kremerata Baltica. I'm very down to earth, and I'm the kind of person who doesn't mind accepting things they way they are — so I'm 50 years old, that's just the way it is! I would never try to put across myself to be something that I'm not, and actually, in all things possible I feel honesty is best. It gives more room for experiencing real life.

AMG: Previously on your OUR Recordings label you have done an album with Chen Yue entitled Spirits, which is largely made up of melodies drawn from both Danish and Chinese traditions. Where did you get the idea for Dialogue, which consists of contemporary music from both Denmark and China?

MP: The idea was Hannibal's, and we also got some help from Joshua Cheek in Ann Arbor, who wrote the lovely notes used in the album. Hannibal had from the start the idea in mind to ask many composers from each country to each write a short piece for the two flutes — but was told that the Chinese needed more than three minutes to get into a mood of a piece! But ultimately it ended up being a program of ten compositions — five from each country: five Chinese and five from Denmark. Then we contacted the Royal Danish Academy of Music and the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing and they assisted us in selecting the ten composers.

AMG: How did you meet Chen Yue?

MP: That was through Hannibal. He had met her at a concert he played in China and he had also made the resolution that — even though we play different instruments — that we essentially had the same style and it would match. The concept of East-West cooperation, which is the motivating principle behind both Spirits and Dialogue, is all Hannibal's. Chen Yue and I didn't meet until we both played a concert, with me and a lot of other musicians, in Beijing in a special occasion commemorating 100 years of cooperation between Denmark and China, the longest uninterrupted cooperation China has had with any country. I have learned to trust Hannibal's judgment in these things. He has an excellent sense of what might be unique to offer on classical recordings, yet he also knows how to measure the amount of risk involved in a given project. Moreover, I have learned very much in this project from Chen's way of playing; we learn a lot from each other. The idea of time in European music is very strict. You learn to be very precise in your attack and in holding notes for only so long. But playing with Chen I have learned to be more in the moment without stretching towards the goal.

AMG: Well Chen, that sounds like a good lead-in for bringing you into the conversation.

Chen Yue: Thank you, and you will need to excuse me, Uncle Dave, I am still learning English. But I, too, have learned a lot from playing with Michala. I think she is a wonderful musician. In playing together, Michala learned to be freer — and I learned to more strict rhythmically.

AMG: Have you had any reaction yet to Dialogue in China?

CY: I think it was a very interesting experience with both albums, showing the different cultures and different ways of thinking. With Spirits, we didn't know if it would work, but people back in China were very pleasantly surprised. They love Spirits very much and it can move listeners in China to tears, it is so emotional. With Dialogue, not so much, but they understand that it is a professional album, that it is more exclusive. It is for people who know and love classical music already.

AMG: When I was ready to listen to Dialogue, I was wondering how I would be able to get through more than an hour of what is essentially unaccompanied flute music, all in a high range, but in the end the album didn't have any trouble at all holding my attention. It seemed like the two of you were striking out on your own path, creating your own music from scratch with fresh instrumental combinations, like Harry Partch did.

MP: I read your review and was very glad about it, because with reviews that is the one thing that is important to me. It is not so important to me whether you like the album or not, but I do care as to whether a reviewer understands what it is that I am doing. You managed to enter our way of thinking.

AMG: How do you feel the music on Dialogue is different from the standard Western repertoire for high instruments, such as, say, Wilhelm Friedemann Bach's flute duets?

MP: I haven't heard those, I am ashamed to say, but I know what you mean. Some that I know well and play are the Sonatas en Canon of Georg Philipp Telemann. I would say that the difference is that in the absolutely traditional European literature you try and make the two instruments sound as similar as possible. The idea here — and we were not sure that it could succeed — was to emphasize the different instruments from the different cultures and not to want to make them sound similar. It is a little like my interest in comparing the approach of other opposites, like theology and psychology. They are very different fields, but I am interested in both, and by understanding them I can better express what I can feel.

AMG: Of course, the idea of collaboration is not new to you. I remember back in my days of classical retail selling the fine discs you made for BMG in collaboration with pianist Keith Jarrett. However, now you and Lars Hannibal are now running your own label, OUR Recordings. How is this different from your experience working as a major label classical artist?

MP: It is naturally very different in recent years. Back when I was at BMG — and with Philips before that — there was one A&R person that I would deal with, and when I had something that I wanted to do I would take it to them and see if there was interest. That wasn't a bad system, but there were natural limits to it and sometimes, disappointments. Now it is very different. I am completely free in my creativity and do not have to think around another person in order to get something done, although we do have to find a way to get the money up for it. Otherwise, it's wonderful being so free, and very inspiring.

AMG: Any word about future projects?

MP: Nothing in the coming months, but in the fall we will have an album called Café Vienna, which is music for recorder and guitar from Mozart's time. You will be surprised. There is quite a lot of nice music for these instruments from that era — we found a beautiful set of variations on the national anthem, God Save the Queen and the French Marseillaise. For next year, I have some very exciting plans for a recording, though I am not going to say anything specific about that right now! It is a project done only from my own wish to make it — a great luxury!

AMG: We haven't been seeing a lot of European touring artists here in the States lately. Michala, is there any chance we'll be seeing you on these shores?

MP: Oh yes! I am appearing in New York City with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center on December 9, a pure Baroque concert with popular recorder music. I am looking forward to meeting up with several musician friends that I haven't seen in years. And I will also be playing at a music festival in Minneapolis next summer.

AMG: I will direct the same question to you, Chen Yue — any prospects for an appearance in the U.S.?

CY: Well, you know I have played in the United States, back in 2006 with the China National Symphony Orchestra on tour. I travel quite often in other countries and maybe I will be able to come back — I don't know, but it may come.

Michala Petri & Chen Yue - Pernille Louise Sejlund: Butterfly Rain

Michala Petri & Chen Yue - Siqin Chaoketu: Yan Gui (The wild goose comes back home)

Michala Petri, Kremerata Baltica - Mozart: Andante in C major, K. 315

Michala Petri, Kremerata Baltica - Vivaldi: Flautino Concerto in C, RV 443

Chen Yue - Three Variations on Plum Blossom

Posted in Classical Corner
AllMusic Blog

Michala Petri, recorder
Chen Yue, xiao and dizi
Dialogue - East Meets West
Fantastic review on Dialogue-East meets Wets in International Record Review
International Record Review
13 April 2010
Dialogue New CD/SACD
East Meets West.
Chaoketu Yan Gui (The wild goose
comes back home). G. Chen The
Greeting from Afar. R. Chen Jue (Very
rare and fine jade). Hu Rong (Fusion).
Li Peng Zhuang (Sparkling Collision).
Monrad EastWest-project 16. Murashkin
Cascades. M. Nielsen Stream. Rofelt
Circonflexe. Sejlund Butterfly-Rain.
Chen Yue (xiao/dizi); Michala Petri (recorders).
OUR Recordings 6.220600 (full price, 1 hour
8 minutes). Website
Producer/Engineer Preben Iwan. Dates September
5th, 6th, 10th and 11th, 2008.
My interest in football is pretty well zero;
but when George Best died and a TV news
programme showed a clip of him apparently
unchallenged by gravity as he seemed to
dribble the ball both through and around an
opposing player as fleet-footedly as a
Mariinsky prima ballerina, I was gobsmacked:
this was true virtuosity, a supreme
achievement in its own way. I found
unexpected pleasure in this release for the
same reason: it's a project perfectly realized.
From the outside, a CD of ten contemporary
duos for recorders and their Chinese
equivalents is not the kind of release to set
the pulse quickening; it was respect for
Michala Petri's musicianship that led me to
investigate further, and I'm delighted I did.
Petri and her instruments will need little
introduction to western audiences; Chen Yue
and hers might. She plays variants of two
instruments thousands of years old in their
design: the xiao and the dizi. The recording
'is the result of several years' planning', as
the Introduction in the booklet by Joshua
Cheek explains (Cheek is an expert on
contemporary Chinese music): ten young
composers, five Danish and five Chinese,
were commissioned to write a duo for Petri
and Chen. The results, all written in 2007,
are very different: some of the composers
wrote 'locally' for each instrument, others
drawing their performance techniques into a
more abstract framework, but all of them
show a striking alert ear in responding to the
colours they are working with – although
you'll have trouble following which is which
as they whirl around each other like tumbling
doves. It's far from obvious to the innocent
ear which composers are Danish and which
Chinese: it struck me that the fourth track
has something of the formal elegance of the
courtship rituals of Manchurian cranes and so
was probably by one of the Chinese; no – it
was Butterfly-Rain by Pernille Louise Sejlund
(b.1979). The next track, The Greetings from
Afar by Gang Chen (b.1969), dances along
with the light-footed good humour that
informs many of the other tracks.
The performances are immediately
engaging, and the sound (the recording was
made in a Danish church) couldn't be
bettered. The booklet, too, is a model of
what such things should be, with Cheek's
Introduction followed by a page on each
composer and then by presentations of the
musicians and their instruments; and the
design has been beautifully done. I looked for
some fault, to moderate such fulsome praise,
but could find none. Martin Anderson
International Record Review

Michala Petri, recorder
Chen Yue, xiao and dizi
Dialogue - East Meets West
5 out of 5 stars for Dialogue-east meets West in BBC Music Magazine
BBC Music Magazine
05 March 2010

BBC Music Magazine.

Performance 5 stars, recording 5 stars

In Dialogue-East meets West Petri teams up with a Chinese player on the xiao and dizi flutes to perform pieces specially written for this East- West instrumental combination by five young Chinese composers and 5 young Danish ones. The real interest of this collarboration lies in the contrast between what the Western and Eastern instruments can do, with the latter capable of an amazing variety of tricks. Michael Church March 2010
BBC Music Magazine

Michala Petri, recorder
Anthony Newman, harpsichord
Telemann 4 2
Complete Recorder Sonatas
Klassik Heute on Telemann for Two (9/9/9)
Klassik Heute Magazine
04 March 2010
Ein Lulli wird gerühmt, Corelli lässt sich loben / Nur Telemann allein ist übers Lob erhoben": Mit diesen Worten pries Johann Mattheson 1740 in Georg Philipp Telemann einen Musiker, mit dem er selbst seit mittlerweile 20 Jahren in Hamburg zusammenarbeitete. Die Wertschätzung für Telemann war seinerzeit allgemein; denn mit unerschöpflicher Fantasie und enormen satztechnischen Fähigkeiten sowie einem untrüglichen Gespür für das Populäre, das sich bestens mit Geschäftssinn paarte, fand er in der europäischen Musikwelt nicht leicht seinesgleichen. Dazu war er ein Meister des „vermischten Geschmacks", in dem sich nicht nur die alten Antagonisten der italienischen und französischen Musikauffassung begegneten, sondern der auch profunde Kenntnisse der deutschen Traditionen sowie im Fall Telemanns bis ins hohe Alter auch Einflüsse aus der polnischen Volksmusik umfasste, die er auf seiner ersten Dienststelle in Sorau (dem heutigen polnischen Żary) kennengelernt hatte.
Michala Petris hochvirtuoses Blockflötenspiel hat die Künstlerin seit ihrem Konzertdebüt mit 10 Jahren in aller Welt bekannt gemacht, ihr beeindruckendes Repertoire erstreckt sich vom Barock bis zur zeitgenössischen Musik. Die Neugier der Künstlerin, die auch keine Scheu vor Crossover-Projekten kennt, passt bestens zu Telemanns weitem Horizont. Ihre hier zu besprechende CD vereint Telemanns Sonaten für Blockflöte, die in seinen beiden Sammlungen Der getreue Music-Meister und Eserciszii Musici veröffentlich wurden. Mit Anthony Newman am Cembalo kommt ein Partner hinzu, der zu Beginn seiner Karriere vom Time Magazine mit dem Titel „Hohepriester des Cembalo" ausgezeichnet wurde. An seiner hervorragenden Kopie nach einem Cembalo des Hamburger Cembalobauers Hieronymus Albrecht Hass von ca. 1730 agiert Newman freilich alles andere als priesterlich – quicklebendig und einfühlsam unterstützt er Michala Petri bei der Umsetzung des reichen musikalischen Spektrums dieser Sonaten, das vom Würdevollen über innige Akzente bis zu virtuosen Purzelbäumen reicht. „Gib jedem Instrument das, was es leiden kann, so hat der Spieler Lust, du hast Vergnügen dran": Dieser Ausspruch Telemanns hat hörbar bei dieser Einspielung Pate gestanden.
Detmar Huchting 21.03.2014

Klassik Heute Magazine

Michala Petri, recorder
Anthony Newman, harpsichord
Telemann 4 2
Complete Recorder Sonatas
International Record Review on Telemann for Two
International Record
04 March 2010
International Record Review on Telemann for Two

While Telemann has left a variety of chamber music where the recorder, descant or treble, plays a prominent role, only six sonatas are known by him for treble recorder and continuo. It is these which the Danish recorder virtuoso Michala Petri with harpsichordist Anthony Newman plays on this newly recorded disc. Four of the sonatas come from Telemann's enterprising music periodical Der getreue Music-Meister. This was a fortnightly publication promoted by subscription, which Telemann ran profitably during 1728 and 1729. The remaining two sonatas belong to a musically more ambitious chamber instrumental collection published in 1739 under the title Essercizzi Musici. Indeed, it contains some of the composer's finest pieces in the sphere of trio and continuo sonata, as the two pieces here amply demonstrate.
Petri's musicianship is probably familiar to most devotees of the recorder and of mid-to late-Baroque repertoire. Virtues, among which are her evenly produced sound, nimble fingerwork and sence of fun, abound in her approach to these sometimes technically exacting works. Yet at the same time there is a seemingly wilful, even old-fashioned conservatism which manifests itself in an adherence to modern concert pitch, in patterns of ornamentation favoured by older generations of recorder players such as Ferdinand Conrad and by the absence of a bass stringed instrument in the continuo. In short, these are performances as far removed from the erstwhile avant-garde of Frans Brüggen, Kees Boeke or Peter Holtslag as you could imagine. A cello or a bass viol is not, of course, essential but it does add dimensions to the texture. Newman's harpsichord realizations are fluent and imaginative, though I did not always respond  favourably either to the sound of the instrument or the registration.
Readers may be wondering if I have enjoyed this recital. The answer is yes, though I do feel there is more to the music than we are allowed to share here. Two of the pieces, the Sonata in B flat, TWV41:B3 and the Sonata in F minor, BWV41:f1 can be played on various instruments. In the case of the F minor work Telemann seems to have had a bassoon foremost in mind, while he specified the recorder as an alternative, the music's dark colours, notably affecting in the opening "Triste", makes the bassoon the mote persuasive instrument. The recorder sound clear and ideally resonant and the booklet contains an informative note by an unidentified author. Nicolas Anderson, IRR February 2014
International Record

Michala Petri, recorder
Anthony Newman, harpsichord
Telemann 4 2
Complete Recorder Sonatas
Great Fanfare review on Telemann for Two
Fanfare Magazine
19 January 2010
Don't be fooled by the label, OUR Recordings; the numbering system and the distribution shows that it is part of the vast and expanding Naxos empire. That being said, it is barely a small province therein, for there is a fair amount of material that has come out under their auspices. When one can bag a renowned recorder virtuoso such as Michaela Petri, then one can expect good things.
It is an oddity, however, that as prolific a composer as Telemann was, he paid rather scanter attention in his huge output of solo chamber works to the humble recorder. To be sure, solos for the instrument abound in the trio sonatas, concertos, and other ensemble pieces, but it seems that he preferred the traverse in terms of sound and musical possibilities. Actual sonatas for recorder and continuo, where they are not part of the practice of generic woodwind pieces, are few. Apparently only six such beasts have survived (though of course one might suggest that there are others out there waiting to be found and identified). These are four from the collection Der getreue Musik-Meister from about 1728 or 1729, and a further pair from the Essercizii Musici, a rather comprehensive gathering of sundry chamber works (sonatas and trios) that Telemann published in 1740. Given that they are literally buried within these compendiums, and since these may be of a more pedagogical focus, it is no wonder that they have emerged only piecemeal from the Telemann shadows.
The two works from the 1740s, in D Minor (TWV 41:d4) and C Major (TWV 41:C5), reflect the composer's attempts to inculcate himself into the newly emerging galantstyle, even though the former has the four-movement format of his Baroque chamber works and indeed sounds like it dates from a couple of decades earlier. Here the opening arioso is suitable plaintive, while the following Allegro spins out the small motives like beams of light, dimming ever so slightly when Telemann inserts a sudden minor key harmony. The short Grave could have been written by Vivaldi. The latter is a more advanced three-movement work, though the opening is a gentle arioso that appears floating above a pedal tone. The second is a Lamento, and the third is a lively Hornpipe, a type of music of which Telemann, living in the port city of Hamburg, was fond. The other sonatas seem to push the boundaries of the instrument in terms of flexibility and range, indicating that whoever was supposed to play them really needed to know the instrument. There is pathos, such as the opening movement of the F-Minor Sonata (TWV 41:f1), with its plaintive calls, or the very Bachian second slow movement of the B♭-Major Sonata (TWV 41:B3) with its meandering line that takes awhile to get to a cadence. The second movements are generally tour de forces with regards to recorder virtuosity, and in places such as jaunty opening of the F-Major Sonata (TWV 41:F1), which seems to rush off with display, or the second movement of the other C-Major Sonata (TWV 41:C2) runs like a perpetual motion machine with just a hint of hornpipe in the flashy theme.
Michaela Petri's playing is, as always, superb. Her technical ability to change registers so that one thinks there is another instrument in the background is astounding, as always, and she phrases her slower movements to bring out the lingering emotion of the often floating lines. Her accompanist, Anthony Newman, also no stranger to Telemann, is the perfect partner, his realizations keeping pace with but never overshadowing Petri. I do think I detect a cello also going along with the line, but alas no name is mentioned in the notes. In short, this is a terrific disc and one every Baroque music collector ought to have in their collection. It demonstrates that her reputation as one if not the premiere recorder player is well-deserved. Bertil van Boer,May/June issue 2014

Fanfare Magazine
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