Recorded in June 2020, this is an appropriate CD for a pandemic because it presents a family that plays music together, with no outsiders! The parents, Michala Petri and Lars Hannibal, already are familiar to many of us. On BLUE, they introduce their musical daughters: Agnete, who plays the cello with quiet professionalism, and Amalie, who has a very likable singing voice. On three tracks, all four perform together, and nothing could be more pleasant. The first half of the CD is devoted to Hannibal’s original compositions, which are unfussy and stress-free. He writes that he often seeks to compose “blue” music—not music that is depressed or depressing, but music that is created when “things flow calmly and freely” and when there is no need to show off. Hannibal’s style as a composer reflects both his classical training and his youthful appreciation for and experiences with more popular genres. I was surprised and delighted to realize that the songwriters who first came to mind as I heard the three vocal selections were Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel. I’m not saying that these songs are as great as Bridge Over Troubled Water, for example. I’m simply saying that these songs are excellently written, and that while they seem potentially timeless in their appeal, they have a vibe that I associate with folk rock from the 1960s and 1970s.
The second half of the CD is devoted to Hannibal’s arrangements, for guitar and, in all but two, recorder, of eight classical Danish songs. These no doubt will resonate with Danish listeners more strongly than they resonate with others, but they will give pleasure to all who hear them. Again, simplicity is the key. Carl Nielsen’s Wond’rous air of evening is as straightforward and as eloquent as a Bach chorale.
The sleeve includes a thank-you “to the swallows and sparrows in the beautiful open surroundings around the studio for participating in the music making.” They add an intimate final touch to this CD.
As usual, Michala plays several different recorders on this CD, all of them with a fluency that will make even very accomplished amateurs weep with envy. In keeping with the “blue” mood of this CD, Hannibal’s arrangements call for the lower and larger instruments in the recorder family; no soprano or sopranino recorders will be heard here. Lars plays his Kenneth Brøgger guitar with even-tempered lyricism throughout, always in smooth and perfect balance with the others. BLUE, by the way, is his 50th anniversary release. What a wonderful way to celebrate.
Calming, quietly cheerful, and flawlessly executed, BLUE is just what we need to get us through challenging times. Sometimes simple is best.