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Michala Petri, recorder
Danish National Vocal Ensemble
Let The Angels Sing
European Christmas Carols and Songs in New Arrangements for Recorder and Choir
A Wealth of Pleasure
Roderic Dunnett, www.dailyclassicalmusic.com
Daily Classical Music. com
A Wealth of Pleasure
'The singing throughout is of a high quality ...
The Danish National Radio Choir, under Stefan Parkman, was one of the treasures of the Chandos label's choral output some time ago. The present ensemble first saw light of day in 2007 as the National Vocal Ensemble, and has already been picked up by Naxos. Their singing has been described as transparent, bright and pure, and highly applauded for its remarkable technical precision.
While there are numerous discs of Christmas carols to be explored, the difference here with Let The Angels Sing is the freshness of the new arrangements, made by the group's conductor, Michael Bojesen. In particular, he has imported a recorder, here the utterly delightful, expressive virtuoso performer Michala Petri.
The overall result is a medieval feeling throughout, most especially when the recorder is given an exposed solo passage, as at the opening, in Infant Holy, and midway through Angelus ad Virginem.
The real invention begins with Up Good Christen Folk, where a vocal bells effect is highly attractive and the recorder takes off, pirouetting in a beautifully and aptly conceived descant.
The Czech baroque hymn Rocking, like several of these items (In Dulci Jubilo, Unto Us is Born), acquires an appetising and unusual short prelude. The men come into their own to good effect, with a thrumming bass drone and eloquent tenor singing of the melody, in A Virgin Most Pure; and It Came Upon a Midnight Clear also benefits from a men-only arrangement. These lower voices are profoundly atmospheric, and their legato treatment here is highly beneficial — not so far from Welsh male voice choirs in manner. The Coventry Carol reintroduces the recorder, in a lovely and by no means obviously shaped first and last verse descant. God Rest You has a canonic treatment midway. One of the perkiest is an earlier Czech offering (seventeenth century), the Zither Carol ('Girls and boys, leave your toys, make no noise ...'), which positively dances through the story of the shepherds and the wise men.
Recorder in lower register is a feature of Infant Holy, to which Bojesen brings slightly unusual, appealing harmonies. The boldest introductory and midway patter for Petri comes as the introduction to There stood in heav'n a linden tree ..., whose roots lie in an early German medieval carol (fourteenth century).
Girls and men alternate in the traditional way for Good King Wenceslas. Perhaps the most attractive solo is actually vocal — a delightful version of Blessed Be That Maid Mary, in which G R Woodward's exquisite Marian text is an ideal match for the fifteenth century English melody; and the women's voices as a whole have a charming passage also.
O Come, o come, Emmanuel makes a suitable conclusion.
The singing throughout is of a high quality, even if relatively traditional and without a particularly individual sound. For those to whom the carol is not merely a Christmas speciality, but something to be enjoyed at any time of the year, Bojesen's sensible pacings and of course Petri's almost angelic playing will surely bring a wealth of pleasure.
Roderic Dunnett, www.dailyclassicalmusic.com

Michala Petri, recorder
Odense Symphony Orchestra
German & French Recorder Concertos
Eine CD, die in jeder Sammlung stehen sollte
Thomas Müller-Schmitt, Windkanal, Germany
12. October 2016
Nach englishen, chinesischen, und dänischen Blockflötenkonzerten hat Michala Petri nun auch eine CD mit zwei deutschen in einem französischer Werk vorgelegt. Den Beginn macht gleich Markus Zahnhausen mit seonem “Recordare”, ein Werk, dass den für mich meditativen Teil des Albums Albums abdeckt: Ein wunderbares Stück, das auch nicht in den schnellen und virtuosen Teilen seine Ruhe verliert und auch mir Erlebtes in Erinnerung ruft oder Klänge, die ich irgendwo einmal gehört habe. Danke Markus für dieses Konzert!
Fabrice Bollons “Your Voice Out Of The Lamb” kommt ungleich nerv¨ser und hektischer daher. Die Blockflöte befindet sich in diesem Werk im Grenzbereich zwischen Kult-Pop und Klassik – mit Effekten wie Verzögerung, Echo, Wah-Wah etc. ausgestattet – und nutzt alle Grössen von Sopranino bit Subbass. Auf seine Weise auch ein tolles Werk.
Nach diesen beiden Höhepunkten kommt einem Hörer wie mir Günther Kochans ”Musik für Altblockflöte, 25 Streicher und Schlagwerk” erst einmal etwas befremdlich vor; aber nach einigen Male intensive Höres habe ich die Music doch serh zu schätzen gelernt. Es ist in manchen Teilen radikal, manches meditative, aber immer gut gemacht und sehr interessant. Michala Petri is wie immer die perfekte und sichere Interpretin dieser Werke: Da kann etwas noch so schwer sin, sie steht technisch immer über den Dingen und kann sich dadurch erlauben, sich volkommen auf die Musik zu Konzentrieren. Das Odense Symphony Orchestra steht mit seinem Dirigenten Christoph Poppen selbstbewusst zur Seite.
Eine CD, die in jeder Sammlung stehen sollte
Thomas Müller-Schmitt, Windkanal, Germany

Erik Kaltoft, Piano and Celesta
Piano Music
by Axel Borup-Jørgensen
. Erik Kaltoft handles all of Borup-Jørgensen’s sudden twists and turns expertly, revealing a genuine empathy for this music.
The Classical Reviewer
18.September 2016
A new release from OUR Recordings features pianist, Erik Kaltoft who reveals a genuine empathy for the piano works of Axel Borup-Jørgensen
 OUR Recordings www.ourrecordings.com have done much to bring the music of Axel Borup-Jørgensen (1924-2012) www.borup-jorgensen.dk to the attention of listeners with a number of recordings already in the catalogue and with more planned.

 Borup-Jørgensen was born in Hjørring in Denmark, but grew up in Sweden. It was the countryside and experience of nature of his childhood in Sweden that became a lifelong inspiration to him. He returned to Denmark to study piano at the Royal Danish Academy of Music in Copenhagen and instrumentation with Poul Schierbeck and Jørgen Jersild and was one of the first Danish composers to go to the Darmstadt School. Borup-Jørgensen's works include music for orchestra, chamber music, songs with piano and other instruments.

 OUR Recordings latest release features a selection of his piano music from across his compositional life played by Erik Kaltoft www.facebook.com/erik.kaltoft who not only knew Borup-Jørgensen but benefited from his advice concerning performances of the composer’s music.
         
Thalatta! Thalatta! (The Sea! The Sea!), Op. 127 (1987-88) opens with delicate rising phrases that are repeated before being slowly and subtly varied. Soon dissonant chords appear conjuring vividly the sense of fluidity, droplets of water within rippling flows. Borup-Jørgensen slowly builds some very fine layers, finding the ever changing and multi stranded nature of the sea. He conjures a vision of water that is removed from the violent restlessness of the ocean, a more finely wrought contemplation. Later the music falls to quieter little phrases full of carefully thought out, delicate dissonances before rediscovering the opening, rising phrases to lead to a gentle, quite coda.
 Marine skitser (Marine Sketches) for Klaver, Op. 4b (1949) comprises of six miniatures, opening with a quizzical little motif that is immediately developed through bars of gentle simplicity, with a lovely delicacy. These pieces bring moments that are sometimes reminiscent of Ravel as well as richer more flowing music and a slow thoughtful piece with delicate notes over a deeper piano line.  There is a faster moving sketch with incisive phrases and moments where some lovely chords are developed before this set concludes.

 winter pieces, Op. 30b (1959) is a set of four miniatures the first of which has a sudden, strident opening which is developed through staccato passages. These pieces are full of varying tempi, dynamics and, most importantly pauses that add so much to the feeling of the music. Borup-Jørgensen brings little surprises throughout but always with an overall musical line. This is a terrific collection of pieces lasting just over four minutes in total.

 Delicate phrases open sommer intermezzi (summer intermezzi), Op. 65 (1971) before a series of dissonant chords appear. There are little rising phrases, always with a delicate thoughtfulness. Occasional harsher dissonances appear to disturb the peace but overall the music retains a gentle sense of wonder, a summer pointed up by sudden more focused images, all quite beautifully phrased and shaped by this pianist with a final sudden upward phrase to end.

 Passacaglia for klaver, Op. 2b (1948) opens with fuller, richer chords as it leads ahead through a fine, tonally free melody, only interrupted by more decorative ideas that illuminate the music before it develops its way forward through some broad, firm passages at the end.

 regndråbe interludier (raindrop interludes), Op. 144 (1994) brings a gentle rising motif that is soon subjected to dissonances. Yet the gentle, delicate textures continue, often in little droplets that are repeatedly ‘dripped’ creating some magical harmonies.

 epigrammer (epigrams), Op. 78 (1976) brings more of Borup-Jørgensen’s trademark delicacy and upward rising phrases developed through passages that bring lovely dissonances. There are telling pauses before the music develops some striking, spiky, more dynamic phrases. Later the music finds a walking pace before moving ahead rhythmically. There are more of this composer’s sudden surprises such as when the piano bursts out, high in its register. There are moments when the music that positively sparkles before slowing to separated phrases that bring about the coda.

 Miniaturesuite, Op. 3b (1949) is another early work that brings a collection of five miniature movements or sections lasting in total just under three minutes. It opens purposefully with a fast moving theme that moves around restlessly before soon falling to a slowly meandering theme. There is a faster section that contains hints of Shostakovich in his more manic moments before a slow languid, rather French movement. A fast flowing section brings the coda.

 Præludier for klaver (Preludes for piano), Op. 30a (1958-59) gathers together seven pieces of short duration that move from the opening Prelude with staccato phrases that leap around, through dynamic moments with louder bass chords, a little pause before a sudden outburst as well as sudden rippling phrases. It is the lovely delicate little phrases make the later sudden strong outbursts all the more telling before the Preludes conclude.  

 The unexpected work here is Borup-Jørgensen’s ‘Phantasiestücke’ for celeste, Op. 115 which has all of this composer’s trademark ideas. It opens with rippling upward phrases before stepping forward, repeating the upward chords and developing through some wonderfully delicate passages, finding some lovely sounds, always with the opening phrases in mind. Borup-Jørgensen writes beautifully and naturally for this instrument.

 Axel Borup-Jørgensen’s piano music is shot through with a natural melodic base that underlies whatever he writes. Erik Kaltoft handles all of Borup-Jørgensen’s sudden twists and turns expertly, revealing a genuine empathy for this music.

 The piano sound is perfectly caught in the Concert Hall of the Royal Danish Academy of Music. There are excellent notes and, as usual with OUR Recordings, a nicely produced booklet with colour illustrations

The Classical Reviewer

Erik Kaltoft, Piano and Celesta
Piano Music
by Axel Borup-Jørgensen
anybody who makes a serious effort of concentrated listening should end up loving this music. Or, so I would hope. Excellent
Grego Applegate Edwards's, Gapplegate Classical
7.September 2016
I first thought of "cantankerous" as I listened to the Piano Music (OUR Recordings 6.220616) of Axel Borup-Jorgensen. But no, a better phrase might be "courageously wayward." Satie, Alkan and Sorabji come to mind when you hear this well done anthology of Axel's solo piano works spanning the wide period from 1948 to 1994. He sounds more like Satie or Messiaen  than the others, but in the end he sounds like himself and like the others he is in opposition to the prevailing trends in his lifetime. He is post-impressionist in his ambiance, but peculiarly, originally declamatory and sometimes inclined towards ostinatos and structured repetitions without sounding minimalist.

He has a beautifully developed sense of exotic harmonic logic (as did Messiaen) which he puts to brilliant use in his sometimes whimsical, speech-like or other-worldly phraseology. What is also remarkable is how he has stuck very much to his own way and developed it in the course of the 46 years represented by these pieces.

Erik Kaltoft plays the piano (and celeste) role like he was born to it, carefully nuancing what in other hands might sound on occasion clumsy. The music requires a poetic vision and a very sensitive touch to sound properly, it seems to me. Kaltoft delivers with superb performances.

Anyone with an appreciation of piano ambiance and looking for an alternative to Debussy, Satie and Messiaen will in time take to this music, I do believe. But anybody who makes a serious effort of concentrated listening should end up loving this music. Or, so I would hope. Excellent!
Grego Applegate Edwards's, Gapplegate Classical

Michala Petri, recorder
Odense Symphony Orchestra
German & French Recorder Concertos
Crescendo Belgium review.
Jean-Baptiste Baronian, Crescendo, Belgium
26.August 2016
Également appelée flûte douce, la flûte à bec a été au Moyen Âge d’un usage courant dans la musique populaire et sa technique s’est améliorée au cours des siècles, avant de séduire au XVIIe et au XVIIIe la plupart des compositeurs. On sait ainsi que Jean-Sébastien Bach a souvent utilisé la flûte à bec par groupe de deux dans une bonne vingtaine de ses cantates et que, pour sa part, George Philip Telemann l’a littéralement magnifiée à travers de très nombreuses partitions (sonates, trios, quatuors, suites, concertos, etc.). Après un silence de plus de cent cinquante ans, il aura toutefois fallu attendre le XXe siècle pour qu’elle intéresse de nouveau des musiciens de toute premier plan, de Paul Hindemith à Benjamin Britten, ou de Hans Werner Henze à Luciano Berio, en passant par Michael Tippett ou Louis Andriessen.  Peut-on pour autant parler de renouveau de la flûte de bec ? Est-ce que dans la grande majorité des œuvres où elle intervient, elle ne jouerait pas plutôt un rôle anecdotique, malgré le fait qu’elle arrive à produire des effets sonores tour à tour raffinés et insolites ?
Le présent CD rassemble trois œuvres peu connues ressortissant au répertoire contemporain de la flûte à bec et interprétées par Michala Petri, toujours disponible quand il s’agit de participer à des créations mondiales. Au vrai, ces trois œuvres n’ont rien d’extraordinaire et semblent constituer des exercices de style – exercice dont s’acquitte plutôt bien Günter Kochan, un des rares compositeurs de la RDA à n’avoir pas sacrifié tout son talent au réalisme socialiste.

Jean-Baptiste Baronian, Crescendo, Belgium

Erik Kaltoft, Piano and Celesta
Piano Music
by Axel Borup-Jørgensen
Kudos to OUR Recordings for bringing this music to the listening public.
Perkustooth, New Music Buff
23. August 2016
I had reviewed another disc of this composer's music on this label here and I must admit that it took me quite a while to meaningfully grasp the music of this too little known Danish composer (1924-2012).  It should be no secret that the Danes have had and continue to have a rich musical culture and have produced quite a number of world class composers and this man is no exception.  However his style, apparently gleaned from his association with the modernists of Darmstadt, can be a tough nut to crack.
As with the aforementioned disc one might require multiple listenings before coming to realize that this man has a unique style and one that bears some serious attention.  This disc of piano music (and one piece for celesta) fills a gap in his recorded repertoire and is an excellent opportunity to see how he works in the genre of keyboard music.
These ten tracks contain works written from 1949 to 1988 so they cover a significant portion of his career and illustrate the development of his style.  Pianist Erik Kaltoft, a longtime associate of the composer, demonstrates interpretive skill as well as virtuosity and dedication in this fascinating survey.
The first (and longest 11:29) piece is Thalatta! Thalatta! (1987-88) and is given the opus number of 127.  The exclamation of the title translates as, "The Sea! The Sea!" and is said to have been spoken by the Greek armies upon reaching the Black Sea during one of their campaigns.  It is an impressionistic piece about the many moods of the sea.  His harmonies are like a modern update of Debussy, a bit more dissonant but providing a similarly soft focused feel.
Continuing with the maritime theme are the 6 miniatures called Marine Sketches (1949) opus 4b.  It is one of the earliest compositions in this collection (along with the Miniature Suite opus 3b, also 1949, on track 8).  Each of the pieces lasts around one minute and there are no track breaks to separate them.  The composer seems to expect that they will always be performed together and with a total time of 6:53, why not?  In contrast to the first piece these contain more melodic contours with less overall dissonance but clearly the same compositional fingerprint.
The four Winter Pieces opus 30b (1959) contain more energetic rhythms but with strategic silences punctuating the overall flow.  They end with a brief epilogue.
From winter we move to another season with the Summer Intermezzi opus 65 (1971) comes back to the sound world of the first track.  Here he experiments with different techniques to expand the language of the keyboard and incorporates the strategic silences of the piece on the former track.
Track 5 contains the earliest piece in this collection, Pasacaglia opus 2b (1948) which seems to suggest some influence of Scriabin.  It is a classic set of variations over the initial bass line and has a rather romantic feel.
Raindrop Interludes opus 144 (1994) is an impressionistic suite with the more dissonant style of his other later pieces.  It is the most recently composed of the recorded selections.
Epigrams opus 78 (1976) at 9:15, is the second longest piece here.  This is one of the most abstract pieces on the disc and demands concentration from both the performer and the listener to perceive delicate statements made with a wide dynamic range.
The Miniaturesuite opus 3b concentrates a praeludium, fantasia, interludium, sarabande and a repeat of praeludium in a brief 2:49.  It is more melodic and less dissonant in keeping with the composer's earlier style.
Praeludier opus 30a (1958-9) are seven pithy and brief preludes.
The last track contains Phantasiestùck opus 115 (1985) written for celesta.  This instrument, forever doomed to familiarity by its use  in Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker, has a limited repertoire and this gentle abstract piece is a welcome addition.  It is consistent with the composer's late style using dissonance and silences in an almost meditative and strangely nostalgic piece.
The extensive and useful liner notes are by Trine Boje Mortensen and are printed in both Danish and English (translation by John Irons).  The fine recording and mastering are by Preben Iwan in the fine acoustics of the Royal Danish Academy of Music.  Grateful assistance and input from the composer's daughter Elisabet Selin.
One needs to be cautioned never to take lightly anything produced from this creative country and this album is proof of that.  Kudos to OUR recordings for bringing this music to the listening public.
 
Perkustooth, New Music Buff

Erik Kaltoft, Piano and Celesta
Piano Music
by Axel Borup-Jørgensen
Eine willkommene Erweiterung des Horizonts für Pianisten, die sich abseits traditioneller Pfade Anregungen holen wollen
Christopher Schlüren, Klassik Heute, Germany
13 August 2016
Axel Borup-Jørgensen (1924-2012) war einer der bedeutendsten dänischen „Modernisten“ im Schatten der jüngeren Kollegen Per Nørgård, Ib Nørholm und Pelle Gudmundsen-Holmgreen. Über die Landesgrenzen ist er kaum bekannt geworden, doch seit seinem Tode beschäftigt sich das Label OUR Recordings intensiv mit seiner Musik im Rahmen der „Edition Borup-Jørgensen“, deren jüngste Veröffentlichung eine repräsentative Auswahl seiner Klaviermusik umfasst. Es spielt Erik Kaltoft, der 45 Jahre lang mit dem Komponisten zusammenarbeitete. Borup-Jørgensen kannte ich bisher vor allem durch seine farbenreich-komplexe Tondichtung Marin für großes Orchester. Seinem ganzen Naturell nach ist er ein Impressionist, der sich in den fünfziger Jahren die dodekaphonischen Verfahrensweisen in der Nachfolge Anton Weberns aneignete und mit einer atmosphärischen Geschlossenheit zum Hören einlädt, die nicht auf zielstrebiger Entwicklung oder dramaturgischen Kontrasten aufgebaut ist. Vorliegende Kompilation gibt einen guten Überblick über seine teils deutlich unterschiedlichen Schaffensphasen. Drei frühen Stücken von 1948-49 folgen zwei experimentell fragmentierende Werke von 1958-59. Die Musik der siebziger Jahre (Sommer intermezzi von 1971 und Epigrammer von 1976) zeigt eine offenkundige Abklärung des Stils, 1985-88 (Phantasiestück für Celesta und das titelgebende Thalatta! Thalatta!) eine zunehmend minimalistische Reduktion, die wechselnde Muster über längere Zeiträume beibehält, und das Regentropfen-Interludium von 1994 bildet den beinahe schon verklärten Abschluss – wobei die CD gar nicht chronologisch, sondern in dieser Hinsicht bunt durcheinander angeordnet ist, was für sinnvolle Kontraste sorgt. Man merkt sofort, dass Borup-Jørgensen ein guter Pianist war, seine Musik ist ganz natürlich für das Instrument geschrieben und weiß, die Register farblich ideal zu nutzen und zu kombinieren. Natürlich ist diese Musik – bis auf die Frühwerke, unter welchen das erste (eine kleine Passacaglia) in seiner so ganz unprätentiösen Schlichtheit bemerkenswert ist, nicht geeignet für Hörer, die Expressivität und Drama suchen. Es handelt sich vielmehr um permutativ fließende Klangskulpturen, und Erik Kaltoft ist mit diesen Stücken so tief vertraut und auch pianistisch so souverän, dass man durchaus von einer authentisch autoritativen Aufnahme, von einer berechtigten Referenz sprechen darf. Auch Flügelabstimmung, Raumakustik und klangtechnische Abbildung sind vorzüglich, und der Booklettext von Trine Boje Mortensen informiert grundlegend und essenziell. Eine willkommene Erweiterung des Horizonts für Pianisten, die sich abseits traditioneller Pfade Anregungen holen wollen. 
Künstlerische Qualität: 9
Klangqualität: 10
Gesamteindruck: 9
Christopher Schlüren, Klassik Heute, Germany

Erik Kaltoft, Piano and Celesta
Piano Music
by Axel Borup-Jørgensen
It has been an absolute pleasure exploring this music.
Marc Medwin, Fanfare US
31 July 2016
The present disc constitutes my introduction to this underappreciated Danish composer. Doubtless, it will introduce many others to his often introspective but miles-deep piano music, as only a few of the pieces have been recorded before and given the excellence of the performances and documentation.
The pieces span the forty-five years from 1949-1994, detailing the composer’s development in light of more general developments in music history. Erik Kaltoft, who knew and worked with the composer, mentions Webern as a formative influence in the 1950s, and indeed, there is some Webern in the rapidity with which textures and speed change in a piece such as “Thalatta! Thalatta!” from 1987-88, not to mention in the music’s brevity. Yet, the structures themselves are not Webernian at all. Rather, I hear some Messiaenic clusters and arpeggiations replacing Second Viennese School counterpoint. What, then, would explain those gorgeous and basically repeated gestures in the second half of the work, almost minimalist in structure if not in intent? They morph, but only gradually, as hypnotic as they are diverse. Kaltoft’s colorful pianism is perfectly judged and executed as the wave-like arpeggios fragment, slow down and ultimately disintegrate into their component parts, so similar to those that commenced the work.
Considerably more Webernian, at least in terms of articulation and sudden dynamic shift if not in density or harmony, are the “Winter Pieces,” composed a decade later. It is as if, like Jørgensen’s use of baroque forms earlier in his career, he is bending music history to his will, not with anything approaching dictatorial malevolence but with reverence and homage in the service of his own language. The final pieces he composed for piano, his 1994 “Raindrop Interludes,” address this duality. Sounding very much like “Thalatta! Thalatta!” in terms of opening pitch material and execution, there is certainly reference made to both Chopin and Scriabin in the interplay of title and pitch intervals. Those attacks of varying length from the late 1950s are still present, but shades of sound and silence have become more subtly nuanced, repetition and transformation balanced in both regular and irregular concision.
It has been an absolute pleasure exploring this music, whose overriding aesthetic, beyond its exploratory rigor, is one of all-encompassing beauty and ultimate serenity. The many opus numbers (the last is op. 144) speak to a long and productive career.  Our Recordings is poised to release more Borup-Jørgensen this year, a very tantalizing prospect given the superb quality of all aspects of this disc. 
Marc Medwin, Fanfare US

Erik Kaltoft, Piano and Celesta
Piano Music
by Axel Borup-Jørgensen
Warmly recommended to fans of contemporary keyboard music.
David DeBoor Canfield
July 15 2016
I first became familiar with the music of Axel Borup-Jørgensen back in the LP era, when I came across some Danish recordings containing such works as his Winterpieces, Nordic Summer Pastoral, and Music for Percussion and Viola. Nevertheless, this long-lived (1924-2012) composer was not particularly well-represented on LP, and so I’m glad to see some continuing attention paid to his music in the CD era. Since he composed a good 250 works, the CD companies will have a fair amount of work ahead of them to get any significant portion of his output into the hands of collectors. This disc, containing 10 of his works for keyboard (nine for piano and one for celesta) is certainly a good start. Interestingly, Borup-Jørgensen was one of the first Danish composers to attend the Darmstadt School, but never composed any serial music. Pianist Erik Kaltoft has had a 45-year history with the composer, and so his present performances may said to have the stamp of authority. Apparently, he has performed at least some of them in the presence of their author.
            “Thalatta! Thalatta!” opens the recital, and begins with a series of upward arpeggios. These are, mind you, not your major triad broken chords, but a subtly shifting sequence of exotic sonorities. It’s not Minimalism, especially with the interjections after a minute or so of new, block-chordal material and other types of figuration. Cluster-like chords also permeate this piece in a number of places Its title comes from an exclamation purportedly uttered by ancient Greek sailors when they reached the Black Sea. I don’t hear rolling waves, but perhaps some glint of sunlight reflecting from them. Marine Sketches follows, suggesting that its composer was drawn to the subject of the sea. I’m not too surprised, given that Denmark is surrounded by water on three sides, and is even divided by a large channel. Written 40 years before “Thalatta!”, the harmonic style of the piece is more tonally focused, and even seems to be centered on the tonality of G. Each of the six sketches is a small character piece, and these may or may not (the notes are coy on the point) reflect a particular aspect of the sea. Incidentally, Borup-Jørgensen’s major orchestral work is the sea-inspired Marin, Marin.
            winter pieces hails from 1959, ten years after the Sketches, and consists of four brief movements and an epilog. In this work, silence plays an especially important role. I guess there must a lot of stillness in Danish winter scenes. In between the silences are seemingly random clusters of notes (or are the silences in between the clusters?), but shortly into the piece, the listener realizes that these “random” sequences are actually nothing of the sort, but form a tapestry, where some of the pictorial representation on it is obscured. One can almost see the icicles hanging from the trees in this frigid work. sommer intermezzi deals with a warmer scene, and shows some similarities in its structure, including the upward arpeggiated figuration, to “Thalatta!” The program notes refer to there being enchantment in the air in this work, and that seems as good a description to me as any.
            The Passacaglia, dating from 1948, is the earliest work in this recital—the composer was but 24 years of age when he wrote this Baroque-inspired work. Typical in works in this genre, a sequence of notes is iterated and then forms the basis for a series of variations. The harmonies are exquisite, and the work builds up to an impressive climax. raindrop interludes (Borup-Jørgensen seems to like titles in lower case) is a rather pointillistic work, perfectly suited to the portrayal of raindrops, although I must say these drops seem rather large in size. The notes state that Chopin’s Raindrop Prelude hovers in the background, but I didn’t hear any resemblance to that work, or anything else by Chopin. Nevertheless, the composer has written an evocative nature piece here.
            epigrammer (epigrams) is similar in its effect to the preceding work, with its alternation of silence and sound, and once again the upward arpeggios make their appearance. The work is quite austere and foreboding, and sounds as though there ought to be a program attached. Miniaturesuite is another early work, contemporaneous with Marine Sketches. Accordingly, its style is quite a bit more tonal than all of the works in this recital that date from the 1950s or later (doubtless occasioned by his studies at Darmstadt). The Suite makes its statement in terse fashion in five brief movements lasting altogether less than three minutes. Borup-Jørgensen’s Preludes for Piano are opus-mates of his winter pieces, and consequently date from 1958-9. These seven preludes vary a good bit in their forms of expression, but all evince clarity of texture, and make an impression through their extreme range of dynamics. These sound difficult to play, and probably are, but Kaltoft whips them off seemingly effortlessly.
            The recital closes with Phantasiestück for celesta, and the very nature of the instrument immediately transports the listener to another musical realm. Once again, one hear’s Borup-Jørgensen’s trademark upward arpeggios and dripping sounds, but heard on the celesta they assume an entirely different character.
            The piano artistry of Erik Kaltoft must be applauded. These works need a first-rate pianist to bring across, and he does, superbly. His touch and timing is perfectly tuned to the temperament of the music, and I doubt that anyone else will make a better case for this music. The recorded piano sound is forward and very lifelike. Warmly recommended to fans of contemporary keyboard music. 
David DeBoor Canfield

Erik Kaltoft, Piano and Celesta
Piano Music
by Axel Borup-Jørgensen
. Recommended, even to—no, especially to—those who already have the earlier release.
Ronald E. Grames, Fanfare US:
1 July 2016
An image I often find helpful when listening to a Axel Borup-Jørgensen piece is of a picture which, when approached, is revealed to be made up of a multitude of smaller pictures, each as exquisitely wrought as the larger image. Given pianist Erik Kaltoft’s description of the minute details of touch and subtle dynamic differentiation, all meticulously notated in scores he describes as “calligraphed,” I suspect it is not a bad generalization. It seems particularly useful when approaching this composer’s piano music. These works, written at various points throughout his long composing career, may vary according to the focus of his work at the time, but all are distinguished by a Ravelian obsession with detail and craftsmanship.
Unlike Ravel, his perfectionism did not result in a particularly small output, except among works for solo piano, of which, we are told, these represent the major portion. There were, Kaltoft observes, many more which were never finished. With these few, though, and the unique Phantasiestücke for celesta, we can trace the development of his compositional voice from the late-Romantic and Impressionistic chromaticism of the music of his 20s, to his Webern-inspired Expressionist experiments of the 1950s, prior to his trips to Darmstadt in 1959 and 1962, to the new simplicity-inspired, atonal, but never serial works of the 1970s, to the more consciously expressive works of his later maturity. Along the way, Borup-Jørgensen was influenced by avant-garde literature as much as avant-garde music. In particular, it was the austere Swedish poetry of Gunnar Björling as much as any meeting or sojourn to Germany that decided the direction his music took in the 50s and 60s. And like Danish composer Vagn Holmboe, he was deeply affected by nature, endeavoring to compose music that exists and develops as nature does. Hence he has the sea shimmering or swelling in works like Marine Sketches and Thalatta! Thalatta! quite aside from any feelings they evoke. And winter and summer are made sound experiences in Winter Pieces and Summer Intermezzi rather than being recreations of the composer’s reaction to them.
Sheer virtuosity is less important to performing this music—although not wholly unnecessary—than poetic restraint, and Kaltoft’s cool dispassion is an important quality of these performances. Yet, even in the most severe passages, he is unfailingly lovely of tone. Another Danish pianist, Erik Skjoldan, recorded five of these pieces for the Point label back in 1995, when that recording, and a Dacapo release of organ works, was about all that was available in the U.S. to represent the Danish composer’s work. First impressions often stick, and I am quite fond of his much freer, almost improvisatory, way with the five works he performs. He almost invariably takes greater time—sometimes for slower tempos, but as often to add meaningful pauses—and he offers a greater dynamic range. I have no idea if the composer had a preference for this or for the more literal and subdued approach of Kaltoft. Skjoldan was chosen to perform with Borup-Jørgensen at a concert celebrating the composer’s 80th birthday. Kaltoft writes in his notes of the many opportunities he had for close study with the composer.
No matter: the best art invites many approaches, and I am pleased to now be able to experience two visions of these pieces. Not only does this new release offer five works not currently in the discography of this important composer, it does so in OUR Recordings superb DXD recording, which creates an image of a piano in a supportive space as well as I have ever experienced. There are superb, informative notes in a lovely booklet. Recommended, even to—no, especially to—those who already have the earlier release
Ronald E. Grames, Fanfare US:

Michala Petri, recorder
Odense Symphony Orchestra
German & French Recorder Concertos
Music of the very highest compositional quality.
Chris Orton, Recorder Magazine, UK
June 7, 2016
It has been interesting to see that much has been written recently about a perceived lack of concerto repertoire for, specifically, recorder(s) and symphony orchestra. A cursory glance at the recording output of, say, Dan Laurin, John Turner, Jeremias Schwarzer and in particular Michala Petri, suggests that there is a substantial body of works ready to challenge talented youngsters and seasoned professionals alike. Michala Petri has been working through recording a series of concerto CDs, and this CD of German and French recorder concerti is a remarkable example of both her consummate technical and musical mastery of the recorder, but also of the artistry of the composers, their original musical ideas and brilliant scoring of said ideas.
The CD opens with ‘Recordare’, a new concerto by Markus Zahnhausen. From the arresting and imposing opening, one’s attention is immediately captured by the sparse but tense musical material. Zahnhausen uses percussion and winds with a clarity of scoring and orchestration that may remind one of the 14th and 15th symphonies of Shostakovich, or the restrained textures of late Benjamin Britten, however the similarity is fleeting – Zahnhausen very much has his own voice, and this concerto in my mind breaks new ground stylistically for the combination of recorders and orchestra. There is a depth of musical thought and intention which requires considerable concentration on
the part of the listener and indeed, the performers. In a live concert performance, this work could have an even more profound impact upon the listener.
‘Your Voice Out of the Lamb’ creates a stark but excellent contrast. This work uses some delay on the solo part, which is highly effective and is an example of electronics enhancing the musical discourse, rather than simply being an ‘effect’. Two shorter outer movements frame two longer movements which are the ‘heart’ of the work, to my ears. Again, some wonderful colours are created with combined recorder, reverb/delay, vibraphone, harp, solo violin and chamber strings in the third movement, ‘slow’. A virtuosic finale closes the concerto, again using what sounds like an electric piano and a ring modulator on the recorder part, all towards a very rhythmic and exciting musical result.
The final work on the disc is that of Günther Kochan. A composer from the former East Germany, he was highly considered within the Eastern Bloc, however, for so many East German artists, Reunification presented challenges and problems for sustaining careers. Nevertheless, here we have a work for recorder, chamber strings and percussion, that, like the Zahnhausen and Bollon concerti, provides a deeply musical vehicle for the opposition of recorder and orchestra. At once both virtuosic and profound music, it closes the CD with a brilliance of colour and texture.
Congratulations must be paid to the conductor and orchestra who accompany and lead with wonderful sensitivity and awareness. The recorder playing of Michala Petri is technically flawless and even more importantly, bursting with colour, variety and energy in a way that has certainly inspired me. This disc is exciting for so many reasons, however the principal point for me is that we have three first rate musical concerti for recorder, performed by a virtuosa who digs deep into the rich musical ideas presented.
Questions of comparison with other instruments are now irrelevant, and this disc proves beyond any doubt that there are concerti that exist for recorder that truly display the potential of the instrument, but most importantly, with music of the very highest compositional quality.
Chris Orton, Recorder Magazine, UK

Michala Petri, recorder
The Danish National Vocal Ensemble
The Nightingale
The Latvian composer weaves Michala Petri`s tweeting recorders around his singers and an ever-present, uncannily natural evocation of the nightingale itself.
Gramophone , June issue 2016
June 6, 2016
 
This vision by Ugis Praulins (b1957) of Andersen`s story about a Chinese Emperor who prefers a blinged-up mechanical nightingale to a real bird capable of genuine songs (another prescient tale) is brimming with imagination and harmonic wonderment. The Latvian composer weaves Michala Petri`s tweeting recorders around his singers as an ever-present, uncannily natural evocation of the nightingale itself. 
Gramophone , June issue 2016

Michala Petri, recorder
Odense Symphony Orchestra
German & French Recorder Concertos
Nicht zuletzt wegen der Veröffentlichung dieses hervorragenden Werkes sei die CD allen an zeit-genössischer Musik Interessierten wärmstens empfohlen.
Markus Bartholomé, Tibia June 2016
May 30, 2016
Hinter dem etwas unscheinbaren Titel des Programmes verbergen sich große Kaliber: drei neue Werke für Blockflöte und Orchester - zwei Auftragswerke von Fabrice Bollon und Markus Zahnhausen, beide 1965 geboren, und die Ersteinspielung eines Werkes aus dem Jahr 2000 von Günter Kochan (1930 - 2009).

Michala Petri ist als Spielerin und Initiatorin neuer Musik mit dieser CD ein wirklich großer Wurf gelungen: ihre Virtuosität in den Dienst der neu entstandenen Musik stellend gelingt es ihr auch hier scheinbar mühelos, den typischen "Petri-Sound" in seiner unverkennbaren Klarheit zu erzeugen und gleichzeitig mit großer Wandlungsfähigkeit den jeweiligen klanglichen und musikalischen Anforderungen der unterschiedlichen Werke gerecht zu werden.
"Menschenfreundliche Musik" zu schreiben sei sein Ziel, so wird Kochan im Booklet der vorliegenden CD zitiert - und diesen Ansatz scheinen auch die beiden anderen Komponisten der drei neuen Blockflötenkonzerte zu verfolgen. Ihre künstlerischen Ansatzpunkte und musikalischen Register sind zwar grundverschieden, jedoch nehmen sie jeweils in ihrer ganz persönlichen Art sich und ihre Hörer als Partner ernst - ohne Überheblichkeit, ohne Anbiederung.

Markus Zahnhausens Recordare entwickelt aus der Kombination von Blockflöte(n) und großem Orchester eine farbig schillernde Palette klanglicher Schattierungen, den Klang der Blockflöte durch die fein gearbeitete Instrumentierung von ganz verschiedenen Seiten beleuchtend. Er verwehrt sich den Griff in die Zauberkiste der spieltechnischen Kunstfertigkeit, wie man es bei einem Solokonzert erwarten könnte, und bietet stattdessen ein ganz eigenständiges und in seiner emotionalen Kraft überaus eindrückliches Werk - Virtuosität nicht an der Oberfläche sondern im Inneren des musikalischen Erzählens. Angelegt als Tombeau für den im Krieg gefallenen, unbekannten Großvater weitet sich das Werk aus dem rhapsodisch klagenden Beginn der Soloblockflöte zu einem wilden Höhepunkt. Ein besonders anrührender Moment entsteht am Schluss: die Musik ist zu einer kargen Klanglandschaft gefroren, über der einsam die Töne der Sopraninoflöte schweben. Die Blockflöte steht in dieser musikalischen Erzählung nicht als virtuoser Held an der Bühnenrampe, vielmehr wird ihr natürlicher Klang zum Zentrum des orchestralen Geschehens: sinfonische Dramatik, wie man sie in einem "Blockflötenkonzert" zunächst nicht erwartet, die aber mit ihrer geradezu zwingenden Energie den Hörer gefangen nimmt.

Einen ganz anderen Weg schlägt der auch als Dirigent erfolgreich tätige Franzose Fabrice Bollon ein. Schon im Titel wird klar, dass sich der Komponist ein Sujet wählte, das man für ein Blockflötenkonzert wohl so nicht erwartet hat. "Your voice out of the Lamb" ist eine Hommage an die Progressive-Rocker von Genesis. Klingt diese Verbindung zunächst etwas abstrus, so kann das Ergebnis durchaus überzeugen. Der Grundidee folgend werden die Blockflöten elektronisch verstärkt und bearbeitet und das Orchester mit Keyboard und Drumset erweitert. Doch nicht nur klanglich gelingt Bollon, der sein Komponieren mit der Kunst eines Koches vergleicht, ein ansprechendes Gericht: geheimnisvoll pulsierende langsame Teile wechseln mit virtuosen Passagen, die in ihrer treibenden Mechanik sowohl an die Soli aus den Vivaldikonzerten als auch an Improvisationen eines Jazz- oder Rockmusikers erinnern.

Nicht nur wegen der beiden Auftragskompositionen lohnt es sich, diese CD in Ohrenschein zu nehmen: Mit der Ersteinspielung von Günter Kochans "Musik für Altblockflöte, 25 Streichinstrumente und Schlagwerk" bewahrt Michala Petri zusammen mit dem Dirigenten Christoph Poppen und dem engagiert zupackenden Odense Symphony Orchestra ein wahres Meisterwerk vor einem unverdienten Dornröschenschlaf in der berüchtigten Schublade. Wegen seiner aufwändigen Besetzung und gerade auch durch seine komplexe Faktur sowie die durchweg hohen Anforderungen an die musikalischen und spieltechnischen Fähigkeiten aller Beteiligten ist eine Aufführung des Stückes keine leichte Aufgabe. Doch Inspiration und Können der beteiligten Musiker vermögen durchweg zu zeigen, welches musikalische Kleinod hier für das Blockflötenrepertoire gehoben werden konnte. "Musik" steckt voller rhythmischer und satztechnischer Finesse: im dritten Satz etwa die in ihrer Einfachheit und Klarheit schmerzlich berührende Melodielinie der Flöte, im vierten Satz ein Fugato, das an die polyphone Instrumentationskunst Weberns erinnert, oder im sechsten Satz ein wilder, virtuoser Parforceritt im Fünfertakt ... Die Aufnahme beweist, zu welch müheloser Meisterschaft Kochan fähig war und ist ein überzeugendes Plädoyer für das Spätwerk dieses leider zu schnell in Vergessenheit geratenen großen Komponisten. Nicht zuletzt wegen der Veröffentlichung dieses hervorragenden Werkes sei die CD allen an zeitgenössischer Musik Interessierten wärmstens empfohlen.
Markus Bartholomé, Tibia June 2016

Michala Petri, recorder
Odense Symphony Orchestra
German & French Recorder Concertos
5 Stars, Berusende afveje
Per Rask Madsen, Klassisk, Denmark
May 29, 2016
Michala Petri må være en drøm at skrive musik til. I mange år kendte offentligheden hende mest for barokfortolkninger – dér lå det oplagte repertoire jo, - men siden 1970èrne har hun også samarbejdet med tidens komponister. I dag har samtidsmusikken hendes næsten udelte fokus. Den tekniske virtuositet er fuldstændig intakt, og hun hviler i sig selv, som en moden mester gør. Hjemlige komponister såvel som amerikanske, europæiske og kinesiske har skrevet værker til hende, og på den nye cd bliver lytteren overrumplet hele tre gange.
Markus Zahnhausen (f.1965) er noget så sjældent som en komponerende blokfløjtenist og endda en, der har noget spændende at byde på. Til Michala Petri har han skrevet ”Recordare”, en slags instrumental rekviem uden liturgi og med associationer til en imaginær film. Musikken simrer og bobler op i uforudsigelige udbrud og er langt fra barokkens concerto-ideal, hvor solist og tutti er klart definerede.
Den franske komponist Fabrice Bollon (f.1965) har en succesfuld dirigentkarriere i sit hjemland og i det tyske. Han ser Miles Davies som den største musiker i anden halvdel af det 20.århundrede, og ”Your Voice Out of The Lamb”  for blokfløjte og lille orkester søger da også væk fra de klassiske koncertsale oh ind i 70èrnes symfoniske rock og jazzrock, hvor blandt andet Genesis` ikoniske album ”The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway” (1974) her holdes under en kalejdoskopisk prisme. Det fungerer fantastisk godt, selvom ingredienserne er mange, og komikken er som iværksat af et hold gnækkende alfer, der har hældt tryllestøv ud over instrumenterne: I Allegro giusto`en er der noget berusende og fjantet over de sordinerede trompeters tilråb og overdrevne wah-wah-lyde samt el-klaveret og marimbaens omtågede flakken omkring. Også de digitale delay-effekter på blokfløjten er sært fængslende. Odense Symfoniorkester er med på legen hele albummet igennem og spiller på et internationalt niveau, og i Bollons narrestreger kommer musikerne virkelig ud af deres komfortzone.
CD`en slutter med ”Musik for altblokfløjte, 25 strygere og slagtøj” af østtyskeren Günther Kochan (1930-2009), der står for det mest traditionelle indslag. Det blev komponeret på foranledning af førnævnte Markus Zahnhausen i 1996, for altblokfløjte og cembalo, og fire år senere omarbejdet til en koncert. De østtyske komponister har ikke været meget spillet uden for DDR, så vi har været totalt uvidende om Kochans bedrifter, men hører her et væsentligt glimt. Værket består af syv korte satser og rummer den mest indædte musik på cd`en. Strygerne glinser som en luftspejling under en sommerhede, og koblingen med strenge og slagtøj minder på flere måder om Bartoks musik i 1930`erne.
Bravo til musikerne og komponisterne på denne CD.
Per Rask Madsen, Klassisk, Denmark

Michala Petri, recorder
Odense Symphony Orchestra
German & French Recorder Concertos
the solo instrument, the recorder – which emerges as a dynamic instrument with much range and potential in 21st-century new music
Stuart Millson, Endnotes
May 16, 2016

 

Having just described the music of Kenneth Hesketh, I hope that we will not be overburdening our readers with another modern recommendation – this time, a collection of German and French recorder concertos (three world premiere recordings, no less) given by Michala Petri – a soloist, perhaps, better known for baroque performances – supported by the superb Odense Symphony Orchestra under Christoph Poppen. The CD comes from OUR Recordings (distributed by Naxos). The three concertos are by Gunter Kochan (1930-2009), Markus Zahnhausen and Fabrice Bollon (both born, 1965) – Bollon’s genre-crossing, rock-group Genesis-inspired concerto standing out in particular, due to his view that “contemporary art music is a lost cause” and his use of the orchestra as…

“… an imaginary band, thereby expanding Genesis’s typical palette of artful fairy-tale, childish fascination and cartoonish fantasy: an orchestra without woowinds or horns, without violins or violas, but with three trumpets, three trombones, marimba, vibraphone, drum set, harp, cellos and double-basses, joined by a very dominant keyboard. The keyboard and the recorders are the only amplified instruments, and the keyboard is employed with the colours typical of its genre to conjure effectively the authentic Genesis sound: Chorus, E-Piano, Rock Organ, Old Pianino…”

Recorded at the Carl Nielsen Hall, Odense, Denmark last year, the quality of the engineering is superb: listen in particular for the extraordinary capturing of such details as side-drum taps, and the “bright light” of the solo instrument, the recorder – which emerges as a dynamic instrument with much range and potential in 21st-century new music; much more of a presence than just a charming, antique sound from the world of the Brandenburg Concertos. (OUR Recordings, cat. no. 6.220614.)

Stuart Millson, Endnotes

Michala Petri, recorder
Odense Symphony Orchestra
German & French Recorder Concertos
As usual, Michala Petri is a flawless performer with stunning technical skills and a great charisma
Remy Franck, Pizzicato, Luxemburg
May 4th 2016
Der aus Saarbrücken stammende Blockflötist und Komponist Markus Zahnhausen erinnert sich in ‘Recordare’ an seinen Großvater, der 1941 starb, « ermordet in Hitlers teuflischem Feldzug in Weißrussland ». Zahnhausen hat die Briefe des Großvaters gelesen, und war tief erschüttert. Sein Werk ‘Recordare’ bezeichnet er daher als ein « Monument gegen den Krieg“, das kein brillantes Virtuosenstück sein soll, sondern « tiefgründige Musik von innerer Virtuosität“.
Er beschreibt darin die friedliche Landschaft mit Wiesen, wo der Großvater begraben liegt, eine Landschaft, die dennoch so viel Leid gesehen hat. So entwickelt sich zwischen ewigem Frieden und der Dramatik der kriegerischen Auseinandersetzung ein spannender musikalischer Film, der von großer nachhaltiger Wirkung ist.
Fabrice Bollon, der vielen Lesern vor allem als Dirigent bekannt sein dürfte, hat mit ‘Your Voice Out of the Lamb’ ein zwischen ruhigen Phasen und hoch virtuosen Passagen alternierendes Werk geschrieben, das eine Hommage an das Album ‘The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway’ der Rock-Band ‘Genesis’ sein soll. Es ist eine flatterhafte Musik, die in der losgelösten Interpretation Michala Petris einen direkt improvisatorischen Charakter erlangt.
Die Musik für Altblockflöte, 25 Streichinstrumente und Schlagwerk von Günter Kochan (1930-2009) ist das abstrakteste Stück der CD, aber Michala Petri und Dirigent Christoph Poppen bringen viel Spannung hinein, so, dass es nicht ohne Wirkung bleibt.
Michala Petris Spiel ist, wie immer und wie in jedem Repertoire, technisch hervorragend und hoch emotional im Ausdruck. Ihre Ausstrahlung und die formende Hand des inspirierten Dirigenten bringen auch das ‘Odense Symphony Orchestra’ zu einem spannungsvollen und kommunikativen Spiel. Die Tonaufnahme ist von bestechender Transparenz und Räumlichkeit.
Three very different modern recorder concertos make an interesting program for this CD. As usual, Michala Petri is a flawless performer with stunning technical skills and a great charisma.
 
Remy Franck, Pizzicato, Luxemburg

Michala Petri, recorder
Odense Symphony Orchestra
German & French Recorder Concertos
Although I always enjoy Michala Petri's discs, this one is particularly enjoyable,
Raymond Tuttle, Fanfare
March 31, 2016
 
ZAHNHAUSEN Recordare. BOLLON Your Voice Out of the Lamb. KOCHAN Music for Alto Recorder, 25 String Instruments, and Percussion  ●  Michala Petri (rcr); Christoph Poppen, cond; Odense SO  ●  OUR 6.220614 (54:04)
            Although I always enjoy Michala Petri's discs, this one is particularly enjoyable, as it contains three previously unrecorded works that serve as something more than mere vehicles for Petri's considerable technical and intellectual virtuosity.
                Recordare, by Markus Zahnhausen (b. 1965), was composed in memory of the composer's grandfather, who was murdered by the Nazis in Belarus. (The work's title alludes both to the Latin word for “remember” and to the recorder itself.) The composer writes, “In my concerto the recorder functions as an omnipresent first-person narrator who guides the music from beginning to end as the first among equals.” He has structured the work as a diptych, with several subdivisions and contrasting moods. As the work approaches its end, there is extended “Farewell” in which, against very Shostakovich-like high string writing, the quietly chirping recorder, perhaps representing a soul that is winging skyward, takes its leave. It is a most magical ending. Zahnhausen, unlike most of the composers who have written works for Petri, is also a recorder virtuoso. His intimate relationship with that instrument helps make Recordare a very effective work.
                Fabrice Ballon (b. 1965) subtitled his concerto “Tribute to Genesis.” Initially, I thought he meant the first book of the Bible, but actually he meant the British prog rock group that had its artistic heyday in the 1970s. And indeed, the title alludes to Genesis's iconic The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway album. Thematic fragments from that album are used in this concerto. Now, to be honest, although I like Peter Gabriel's early solo albums, Gabriel-era Genesis usually strikes me as unlistenably pretentious, like the self-importance of a freshman philosophy student at his first college kegger. What a surprise, then, that I was blown away by Your Voice Out of the Lamb, which is one of the most inventive recorder concertos I've ever heard—and I've heard quite a few of them, thanks to Ms. Petri! Bollon's aim was “to write a hyper-virtuoso concerto bordering on the unplayable.” What gives this work its unusual sound is the use of a digital effects unit, which is used to produce loops, echoes, delays, and other effects in the solo part. The orchestral scoring also plays a role. You don't have to like Genesis, then, to enjoy this atmospheric and dynamic concerto, which is neither rock nor classical, but some very interesting thing in between. Bravo, Bollon!
                Don't be put off by the objective title of Günter Kochan's concerto, a work revised in 2000 for his pupil Zahnhausen. This is a concerto in seven fairly short movements whose intellectual agility keeps the listener (and the performer) on his or her toes. It may be pure music, but it is purely engaging, as it takes the soloist across a variety of landscapes. Each movement has its own sound, yet the seven of them come together to make a coherent and convincing whole. Kochan divides the strings into solo instruments, and the lightness of the scoring complements the soloist.
                There's really nothing that Michala Petri can't do with her instrument, is there? She probably is its most important exponent, in terms of creating a repertoire and developing a modern technique for it. Hearing this CD, one can't help but shake one's head in wonderment. How does she do it? She receives excellent support from Poppen and the Odense Symphony Orchestra, who give as much to these three worthwhile concertos as she does.
                This disc goes under the title “German & French Recorder Concertos,” but whatever you call it, it is a particularly impressive addition to the large Petri discography. Recommended, particularly for the wildly entertaining Your Voice Out of the Lamb!
Raymond Tuttle, Fanfare

Michala Petri, recorder
Odense Symphony Orchestra
German & French Recorder Concertos
Im Ganzen aber ist diese CD eine großartige Bereicherung im Zusammenhang mit einem immer noch weit unterschätzten Instrument
Ulrich Hermann, The New Listener
March 24
Wie hat sich das Verhältnis zu diesem  Instrument im letzten Jahrhundert doch gewandelt! Vom ersten Anfänger-Instrument von der Tante für Kinder – und gerade besonders für Kinder fast immer völlig ungeeignet – zu einem hochentwickelten, spannenden und unglaublich vielseitigen Konzert-Instrument vom Barock bis zu den neuesten Kompositionen eines Markus Zahnhausen. Und Michala Petri hat dem Ganzen mit ihrer Präsenz und grenzenlosen Fertigkeit noch ganz andere, neue Möglichkeiten erschlossen. Vieles davon ist auf dieser Ersteinspielung zu hören und zu bestaunen.

Besonders im ersten Konzert, wo Markus Zahnhausen – selber Blockflötist – nicht nur die Möglichkeiten der verschiedensten Flöten einbaut, sondern auch der Solistin im Orchester-Part die bezwingendsten Begleitungen mitgibt, so z.B. gleich zu Beginn mit Glockenklängen oder Rhythmen von Schlagzeug und großer Trommel. Glücklicherweise lag mir sogar die gesamte Partitur von zwei der aufgenommenen Stücke vor, ich konnte also die Strukturen auch im Notenbild mit verfolgen, ein ganz besonderer Zusatz-Genuss! Zahnhausens Konzert hat, da auch als zusammenhängende Form sehr gelungen, das Zeug dazu, ein moderner Klassiker für die Blockflöte zu werden.

Nicht nur Werke und Au!ührungen sind auf exzellentem Niveau. Hinzu kommt ein außergewöhnlich umfangreiches und informatives Booklet, eine wahre  Fundgrube über Anlass der Kompositionen und ihre Schöpfer. Von Günter Kochan hatte ich in einem Liederbuch schon einmal ein Klavierlied gefunden, der war mir also kein ganz Unbekannter mehr. Sein Konzert für Blockflöte, Streicher und Schlagzeug zeigt seine Beherrschung des Handwerks natürlich ebenso wie seineeigenwilligen kompositorischen Ideen und deren souveräne Umsetzung: Kein Wunder, dass er zu den besten Komponisten der ehemaligen DDR gehörte, auch wenn vieles seiner Musik heute fast boykottiert zu werden scheint.
Michala Petri spielt alle Herausforderungen mit ihren unbegrenzten Möglichkeiten souverän aus, es müssen eben nicht nur Vivaldi, Händel, Bach oder die modischen Komponisten der Blockflöten-Literatur sein. Gerade moderne Kompositionen, die neue Spielweisen,   neue     Klänge, neue Herausforderungen an die Musikerinnen und Musiker stellen, zeigen – vor allem, wenn sie so überlegen gemeistert werden wie von der Dänin –, was aus diesem Instrument an Musik noch lange nicht an einem Endpunkt – die entsprechenden Komponisten vorausgesetzt! – noch zu erwarten und bereits zu erleben ist und sein wird.
Am wenigsten ansprechend war für mich das Konzert von Fabrice Bollon für Flöte und kleines Orchester. Er baut hier auch elektronische Elemente ein, wie Loops und Verstärkung, bezieht sich auf die Rock- Gruppe „Genesis“ und versucht eine Mixtur aus allen möglichen Stil-Elementen der E- und U-Musik. Das mag für die ausführenden Musikerinnen und Musiker sicher spannend sein, mir sagte dieses Stück am wenigsten zu, was dem Komponisten reichlich egal sein dür"e, denn wie seine Musik ankommt, war sicher nicht sein primärer Impetus, diese Komposition zu schreiben. Er selbst vergleicht sich mit einem Koch, der mit verschiedensten Gewürzen aus den verschiedensten Erdteilen jongliert, um eine wohlschmeckende Mahlzeit zuzubereiten.

Ob und wie weit ihm das gelungen ist, muss jede Person beim Hören selbst beurteilen.
Im Ganzen aber ist diese CD eine großartige Bereicherung im Zusammenhang mit einem immer noch weit unterschätzten Instrument
Ulrich Hermann, The New Listener

Michala Petri, recorder
Mahan Esfahani, harpsichord
Corelli : La Follia
Breathtakingly beautiful
Oliver Smith, Spring issue 2016
23.March 2016
This CD is an intriguing partnership of the well-established and renowned Danish recorderist Michala Petri, with the young Iranian harpsichordist, Mahan Esfahani. They both work fantastically together as a team on this CD and yet it is amazing to read in their detailed programme notes that they had only first performed together a year before this recording. This is most appearent in the Allegro second movement from Corelli`s Sonata in G-Major (op.5 no.11) Here both performers seem to be having fun with the vibrant virtuosity and precision. This contrasts with the next movement in the sonata, Adagio, where the coulor and mood change immediately with the discordant suspended chords from the harpsichord under an emotionally raw and passionate recorder part. Here Petri is at her finest with fluid trills and scales swopping to high suspended notes with the Harpsichord which is breathtakingly beautiful. In fact, the ornamentated slow movements on the CD display Petri and Esfahani`s virtuosity and teamwork just as much as the flashy and seemingly more difficult movements. The Sarabande-Largo of the Sonata in G minor (op. 5 no.7) is exquisitely played with piercingly simple recorder line that is hauntingly sonorous and melancholic, accompanied by contrasting rich and Spartan spread chords that are so carefully placed and together with Petri that Esfahani seems almost telepathic with her.

There is something for everyone in this recording such as raucous and mad La Follia to the joyous and song-line optimism of the opening Prelude-Largo of the Sonata in C Major (opus 5 no.9). Petri and Esfahani are certainly a “dream team” and I look forward to more collaborative recordings from them in the near future. Oliver Smith, Spring issue 2016
Oliver Smith, Spring issue 2016

Michala Petri, recorder
Odense Symphony Orchestra
German & French Recorder Concertos
this release should certainly be explored by an audience much broader than just fans of the recorder, or even of the redoubtable Michala Petri
Ronald E. Grames, Fanfare
March 22 2016
ZAHNHAUSEN Recordare. BOLLON Your Voice Out of the Lamb. KOCHAN Music for alto recorder, 25 string instruments, and percussion  —  Michala Petri (rdr); Christoph Poppen, cond; Odense SO  —  OUR 6.220614 (SACD: 54:04)
 
With Frans Brűggen gone in 2014, just a couple of months short of his 80th birthday—though in actuality he had focused more on conducting during his last several decades—Michala Petri continues largely alone as the most obvious flag bearer for her instrument, maintaining a busy performance and recording schedule. The biggest change: Where at the start of her career she played predominantly Baroque and Classical period music, largely because that was what her recording companies wanted, she now is the foremost champion of contemporary music for her instrument. Petri would, I suspect, be quick to point out that there are many others, including recorder virtuoso Markus Zahnhausen, whose Recordare (2015) opens this program of premiere recordings. Petri commissioned the work from him; Zahnhausen inspired the late Gűnter Kochan’s Music for alto recorder, 25 string instruments, and percussion (2000) as he was himself inspired by his mentor’s work in writing his own concerto. Petri is the dedicatee of conductor/composer Fabrice Bollon’s recent Your Voice Out of the Lamb. This could all be very insular, in the purview of only recorder players and their circle. It is Petri—her name well-established with a more general audience—who gives many such works visibility, not least in the ever growing catalog on her label OUR Recordings.
So what do we find in this trio of new works upon which Petri now shines her light? As it turns out, three strikingly inventive, attractive, and largely accessible works to add to the growing repertoire. Zahnhausen’s concerto, reflecting perhaps its Requiem Mass namesake, is primarily a somber, pleading work: a “monument against war” and a remembrance of his grandfather killed in World War II. It is understandably dark and foreboding, even haunting, with moments of intense agitation: a moving and profound work. In contrast, Bollon, keeping with a stated goal of enriching his own genre by looking for inspiration outside, has created a more upbeat, possibly nostalgic, tribute to the seminal 1974 progressive rock album The Lamb Lies down on Broadway by the British band Genesis. The composer has not created a particularly rock concerto—certainly not until the beat-driven last movement—but rather incorporates characteristic “short, pithy motifs” and “harmonic twists” from the album into a distinctive and often quite witty work, occasionally reminiscent of minimalist and electronic works of the same period. The sound, while generally symphonic, is unusual for the use of electronic keyboard and an orchestra devoid of high strings, woodwinds and horns, with tuned percussion and drum set added to subtly suggest the “band.” The composer calls for recorders ranging from sopranino to contrabass, which are amplified and sometimes manipulated through a digital effects device to produce echoes, loops, and delays that become an integral part of the orchestral texture while retaining the characteristic sound of the instrument. It is not at all avant-garde; rather it evokes the 1970s sound world created by these pioneers.
At that, these first two works are fairly traditionally tonal; the Kochan Music for alto recorder is more tonally elusive, and therefore may initially prove less immediately approachable. It is also, however, elegant, poised, strikingly beautiful, notably in the lyric Andante tranquillo movement, and intensely emotive in the Molto sostenuto. In many ways, it is an exploration of the expressive range of the recorder, a range much broader than was apparent 40 years ago when Petri first came to world attention. Not surprisingly, she is amazing throughout these three works, exhibiting her usual peerless technical skill—the Bollon was written to be “borderline unplayable” and she makes it sound easy—and responsive to every interpretive demand. I suspect that there is some amplification in the solo line in the works where it is not specifically acknowledged, though Zahnhausen, being a recorder player himself, seems especially sensitive to balance and employs clever methods to assure audibility of his soft-voiced soloist with the orchestra. The sound is exceptional—another impressive OUR Recordings DXD ultra-high resolution recording—and conductor Christoph Poppen and the very fine Odense Symphony Orchestra are alert to every nuance of these varied and often challenging works.
Recommendation? That is easy, and needs no qualification despite the relatively unknown composers, repertoire, and instrument. Presenting as it does three sensational 21st-century concertante works, exceptionally well-played and recorded, this release should certainly be explored by an audience much broader than just fans of the recorder, or even of the redoubtable Michala Petri.
Ronald E. Grames, Fanfare
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