all reviews
Michala Petri, recorder
Mahan Esfahani, harpsichord
BACH
6 Sonatas for recorder
Bach - 6 Sonatas for recorder
11 October 2019

Michala Petri, recorder
Copenhagen Philharmonic Orchestra
American Recorder Concertos
Great Dutch review!
Ben Taffijn, Neuwen Noten
17 September 2019
De blokfluit is een onderschat instrument. Het zal komen door het gebruik op scholen dat het niet door iedereen als volwaardig wordt gezien. Onzin natuurlijk, beluister maar eens één van die blokfluitconcerten uit de Barok. Met name de Italianen hebben heel wat virtuoze concerten geschreven. De blokfluit is in de hedendaagse gecomponeerde muziek echter wat minder goed vertegenwoordigd, iets waar de fameuze Michala Petri al jarenlang verandering in probeert te brengen.
Met succes, want na eerdere albums met blokfluitconcerten, uitgebracht door Petri’s eigen label OUR Recordings, uit Denemarken, Engeland, Duitsland en Frankrijk en China, ligt er nu, met als titel ‘American Recorder Concertos’, een nieuwe met concerten van de Amerikaanse componisten Roberta SierraSteven StuckyAnthony Newman en Sean Hickey.
‘Prelude, Habanera and Perpetual Motion’ heet het stuk van Sierra, dat hij oorspronkelijk in 2006 schreef voor blokfluit en gitaar en in 2016 bewerkte voor blokfluit en orkest. Direct in de ‘Prelude’ krijgt Petri de kans te schitteren met een vederlichte melodie, terwijl de Tivoli Copenhagen Phil, onder leiding van Alexander Shelley een feeëriek klankpalet hanteert.Een sfeer die zich doorzet in ‘Habanera’, maar nu aangevuld met een subtiele vorm van ritmiek. De ritmiek bereikt een hoogtepunt in ‘Perpetual Motion’, met als bijzonderheid het energieke en aanstekelijke duet blokfluit – slagwerk. Stucky voelde aanvankelijk die hierboven genoemde weerstand tegen de blokfluit, tot hij Petri hoorde spelen en besloot om het driedelige ‘Etudes’ te schrijven, waarin Petri wordt begeleid door een al even vederlicht spelend Danish National Symphony Orchestra, onder leiding van Lan Shui. Het eerste deel, ‘Scales’ laat goed horen welke mogelijkheden de blokfluit biedt. Langgerekte klanken en vrolijk gekwetter, of we hier een vogel horen, zet Stucky af tegen een abstract klanklandschap. In ‘Glides’, het tweede deel horen we de invloed van Béla Bartók en Witold Lutoslawski, twee door Stucky zeer gewaardeerde componisten. Maar het is het derde deel, ‘Arpeggios’ dat Petri de beste kans tot schitteren geeft, middels melodische patronen die verwijzen naar de Barok.
Met ‘A Pacifying Weapon’ verwijst Sean Hickey naar de blokfluit, die het opneemt tegen een heel blaasorkest, versterkt met percussie, hier The Royal Danish Academy of Music Concert Band, onder leiding van Jean Thorel. Niet alleen een leuk gegeven, Hickey verwijst hiermee wel degelijk naar het kruitvat dat de wereld is. Reeds in het eerst deel valt de weldadige toon op van de blokfluit, regelmatig flink contrasterend met het tumult van het concert. In het tweede deel gaat het er een stuk harmonieuzer aan toe. Noem het gerust de stilte voor de storm, die middels golven slagwerk het begin van het derde deel kenmerkt. Maar ook in dit deel blijft de klarinet fier overeind en helder van klank zijn vreedzame boodschap verkondigen, als tegenwicht tegen de duistere ensembleklanken.
Anthony Newman is een vooraanstaand clavecimbelist, gespecialiseerd in de muziek van Bach. Het mag dan ook niet verbazen dat zijn concert voor blokfluit, clavecimbel en strijkers het minst modern klinkt. Er wordt mooi gemusiceerd door zowel Petri als door Newman en het Nordic String Quartet maar de vraag is toch wel een beetje wat zo’n stuk nu echt toevoegt. Newman komt hier toch vooral over als de uitvoerder die ook eens een stuk wil componeren.

Bekijk hier een live opname van ‘Prelude, Habanera and Perpetual Motion’:

Dansk oversættelse 
Blokfløjten er et undervurderet instrument. Det vil være på grund af brugen på skoler, at ikke alle ser det som et fuldt ud værdigt instrument. Nonsens, naturligvis, bare lyt til en af ​​disse blokfløjekoncerter fra barokken. Italienerne har især skrevet mange virtuose koncerter. Blokfløjten er dog mindre godt repræsenteret i den moderne komponeret musik, noget den berømte Michala Petri har forsøgt at ændre på i årevis.

Med succes, fordi der efter tidligere albums med blokfløjtekoncerter, der blev udgivet af Petris eget label OUR Recordings, fra Danmark, England, Tyskland og Frankrig og Kina, nu er en udgivelse, med titlen 'American Recorder Concertos', et ny album med koncerter af den amerikanske komponist Roberta Sierra, Steven Stucky, Anthony Newman og Sean Hickey.

"Prelude, Habanera and Perpetual Motion" kaldes det stykke af Sierra, som han oprindeligt skrev i 2006 til blokfløjte og guitar og i 2016 arrangerede for blokfløjte og orkester. Umiddelbart i 'Prelude' får Petri chancen for at brillere med en fjerlys melodi, mens Tivoli Copenhagen Phil, under ledelse af Alexander Shelley, anvender en eventyrligt klangpalet. En atmosfære, der fortsætter i 'Habanera', men nu suppleret med en subtil form for rytme. Rytmen når et højdepunkt i "Perpetual Motion" med den energiske og smittende duet blokfløjte – perkussion. Stucky følte oprindeligt den førnævnte modstand mod blokfløjten, indtil han hørte Petri spille og besluttede at skrive den tredelte "Etudes", hvor Petri ledsages af et lige så let-spillende Dansk National Symphony Orchestra, ledet af Lan Shui. Den første del, "Scales", viser tydeligt de muligheder, som blokfløjten tilbyder. Langstrakte lyde og munter snak, som om vi hører en fugl her, kontrasterer Stucky med et abstrakt lydlandskab. I "Glides", den anden del, hører vi indflydelsen fra Béla Bartók og Witold Lutoslawski, to højt respekterede komponister af Stucky. Men det er den tredje del, "Arpeggios", der giver Petri den bedste chance for at brillere gennem melodiske mønstre, der refererer til barokken.

Med "A Pacifying Weapon" henviser Sean Hickey til blokfløjten, der tager det op med et helt vindorkester, forstærket med perkussion, her The Royal Danish Academy of Music Concert Band, ledet af Jean Thorel. Ikke kun en sjov kendsgerning, Hickey henviser faktisk til den smeltedigel, der er i verden. Allerede i første del er den beroligende tone af blokfløjten slående, som en gennemgående kontrast til koncertens tumult. I den anden del er det meget mere harmonisk. Du kan snildt kalde det stilheden før stormen, der markerer begyndelsen på den tredje del gennem bølgende slagværk. Men også i denne del står klarinetten stolt oprejst og forkynder klart sit fredelige budskab, som en modvægt til det mørke ensemblets lyde.

Anthony Newman er en fremtrædende cembalo-spiller, der er specialiseret i Bachs musik. Det burde derfor ikke komme som nogen overraskelse, at hans koncerter for blokfløjte, cembalo og strygere lyder mindst moderne. Der spilles smuk musik af både Petri og Newman og den nordiske strygekvartet, men spørgsmålet er lidt, hvad et sådant stykke virkelig tilføjer. Newman optræder her hovedsageligt som den kunstner, der også ønsker at komponere et stykke.

Se en liveoptagelse af "Prelude, Habanera and Perpetual Motion" her:
 
 
Ben Taffijn, Neuwen Noten

Michala Petri, recorder
Copenhagen Philharmonic Orchestra
American Recorder Concertos
Danish recorder doyenne Michala Petri turns to America for the latest instalment in her international concerto series, and it’s a stylistically varied quartet of recent works.
Gramophone October issue 2019, Charlotte Gardner
06 September 2019
Gramophone (UK)
Danish recorder doyenne Michala Petri turns to America for the latest instalment in her international concerto series, and it’s a stylistically varied quartet of recent works. First up is Roberto Sierra’s Prelude, Habanera and Perpetual Motion, a 2018 expansion and development of a 2006 composition for recorder and guitar, for which Petri is ably joined by the Tivoli Copenhagen Philharmonic under Alexander Shelley. The recorder occupies centre stage from the off; and with its ornate melismas circling over a pizzicato-strong accompaniment of ghostly harmonies, it’s the perfect vehicle for Petri’s clean, smooth, precise sound. Likewise the final bongo-accompanied ‘Perpetual Motion’, whose shrilly ducking and diving virtuosities are a reminder if any were needed of Petri’s capacity to get her fingers around absolutely anything, no matter how fast, and make it sound like liquid mercury.
The Danish National Symphony Orchestra and Lan Shui join her for Steven Stucky’s Etudes for recorder and orchestra (2000, written for Petri herself), whose trio of movements – ‘Scales’, ‘Glides’ and ‘Arpeggios’ – explore the orchestra’s palette of colours in a variety of interesting directions, all of which are attacked with artistic gusto by the DNSO. We then switch ensembles once more, as Anthony Newman himself takes the harpsichordist’s part for his 2016 Concerto for recorder, harpsichord and strings: a perkily inventive old-meets-new celebration of the recorder’s Baroque heyday. We wind up with Jean Thorel conducting the Royal Danish Academy of Music Concert Band in Sean Hickey’s A Pacifying Weapon for recorder, winds, brass, percussion and harp: a 2015 work which has the recorder playing the role of an ancient, gentle protester against the menacing, harsher forces of the contemporary world.
This is a multicoloured, multi-textured, multi-ensemble presentation of interesting, little-known repertoire, casting the recorder in all sorts of different stylistic and emotional guises – which makes it all the more surprising that the actual listening experience has ended up being so very samey throughout. Certainly Petri’s phenomenal technique is as polished and en pointe as ever, and her sound as clear and sweet. However, perfection alone does not make a performance, and there’s a lack of emotional fire and conviction from her here, which has had an anaesthetising effect on the whole. As a result, none of it has grabbed me sufficiently to warrant continued listening once the metaphorical ink has dried on this review.
Gramophone October issue 2019, Charlotte Gardner

Michala Petri, recorder
Copenhagen Philharmonic Orchestra
American Recorder Concertos
Kudos to all involved.
Grego Applegate Edwards, classicalmodernmusic.blogspot.com
11.July 2019
The recorder saw a peak popularity in the Classical music world with the advent of the Baroque period. The Modern era by contrast has not found the instrument entering the repertoire much at all. But if Michala Petri and the composers represented on American Recorder Concertos (OUR Recordings 8.226912) have their way that could be changing.

Our current phase of Modernity does not have the same attitude about tonality and the lack that the Dodecaphonic composers may have had, not to mention the latter's stylistic need to unveil chromatic non-continuity that in some ways is not inherently idiomatic to a recorder. What that means is that the recorder's ordinarily contiguous diatonicism is no longer necessarily a drawback to the contemporary idiom, provided that composer and player situate the possibilities of the instrument in an adventurous and imaginative use of sequencing and create anew a virtuosity fitting to our times. That means something,

Happily one hears such things on the music of this program. As one gets to know these pieces one does not feel that there has been undue compromise either on the composer's freedom or the player's musicality. The four works we hear in fact sound very much of our time yet too sound very idiomatic to the beauty of the instrument in timbre, intervallic grace, and lyrical earthiness.

Recorder virtuoso Michala Petri has everything to do with the existence of these four works for she specially commissioned them, happily, to redress the general scarcity of recorders on the Modern American compositional scene, especially as full-blown concerted statements.

And so between 2000 and 2016 the four works featured on the program came to being. And now with this release we get to hear all of them in near-ideal conditions with well prepared ensembles and Michala Petri's considerable artistry.

What strikes me about it at first consideration is just how contemporary it all sounds, yet too how each composer has gone forward with each a distinctively original step ahead.

For example harpsichord virtuoso Anthony Newman's "Concerto for recorder, harpsichord and strings" for Michala, Newman on harpsichord and the Nordic String Quartet has a more Neo-Baroque element in play but in no case would you confuse this music with that of the earlier period. It is a delightful romp with some rather incredible recorder pyrotechnics and a Baroque brightness coupled with a Modern freshness.

Roberto Sierra's "Prelude, Habanera and Perpetual Motion" gives Michala and the Tivoli Copenhagen Phil under Alexander Shelley a widely expansive Latin feel as it is a refiguring of a work Sierra originally scored for recorder and guitar. We feel the presence of the initial instrumentation yet also a pronounced color palette coming out of the new timbral possibilities.

Steven Stucky's "Etudes," a concerto for recorder and orchestra, started this series of works in 2000 and grounds our sensibilities in a series of interplays between Michala and the Danish National Symphony Orchestra (under Lan Shui) that show a masterful compositional hand and help spell out for us a new sensibility for the recorder in our contemporary world.

Finally we have at nearly 30 minutes the longest and perhaps most ambitious of the four works in Sean Hickey's "A Pacifying Weapon" for recorder, winds, brass, percussion and harp, this time Michala Petri joining forces with the eminently capable Royal Danish Academy of Music Concert Band under Jean Thorel. It is a tour de force with twistingly, fiendishly difficult recorder heroics
against a firebranded windband backdrop contrasted by meditatively ponderous reflective moments.

The promise of the recorder concerto for today has in this way presented itself to us and we find in all ways a virtuoso heroism coupled by a discerning contemporary stance on what constitutes a concerto. Perhaps the most remarkable thing is the unforced outflowing of this music as a natural give-and-take between the instrument, its widened capabilities in the hands of a master performer and the considerable forward leaning imaginations of the four composers and their memorable art on display for us in this program.

I am happy to recommend this album for anyone interested in the instrument and so also in the contemporary concerto as it is evolving in our times. Kudos to all involved.
Grego Applegate Edwards, classicalmodernmusic.blogspot.com

Michala Petri, recorder
Copenhagen Philharmonic Orchestra
American Recorder Concertos
As always, Petri´s playing is exemplary
Andrew Mayes, The Recorder Magazine (UK)
20 June 2019
Petri´s unfailing commitment to performing and commissioning new music continues with the recent series of recorder concertos from different countries. All the works here are written for her and the Concertos by Roberto Sierra and Anthony Newman are world premiere recordings. The Newman is really a chamber work – scored for recorder, harpsichord and strings and feels very retrospective. The Steven Stucky was by far the most interesting and successful work for me. Compositionally more complex, the playing and sound quality in this recording with the Danish national Symphony Orchestra stand out. Also includes Concertos by Sean Hickey for recorder and Wind band. As always, Petri´s playing is exemplary. 
Andrew Mayes, The Recorder Magazine (UK)

Michala Petri, recorder
Copenhagen Philharmonic Orchestra
American Recorder Concertos
A SUPERSONIC Review This is a coherent, stirring program, splendidly played and very well recorded
Remy Franck, Pizzicato
09 May 2019
 
Four modern, but rousing and quite accessible recorder concertos in superb interpretations: Michala Petri's latest CD production delivers excitement in a program of world premieres!
 
'Prelude, Habanera and Perpetual Motion' by composer Roberto Sierra, born in 1953, is a really great piece, immensely well done and exciting, with ample opportunities for Michala Petri to showcase her talents.
Steve Stucky’s Etudes (1949-2016) are a little more modern, but very effective in their own atmospheric way. Michala’s sensitive interpretation draws out each movements hidden beauties! With three highly virtuoso movements (Toccata, Devil's Dance, Furie) and a Lament, Anthony Newman’s (* 1941) neo-classical concerto takes a look over the shoulder at the recorder’s Golden Age. Once again, Michala’s advocacy brings each movement excitingly to life.
Sean Hickey's Concerto for recorder, brass, brass, percussion and harp, 'A Pacifying Weapon', is the most modern piece on the CD and is a personal response by the composer to contemporary but unspecified world events. This may give the music a somewhat threatening character, but it is above all the musical construction and the resulting harmonies that fascinate. Hickey has many ideas and can add them very well to a whole that is effectively presented.
Verdict: This is a coherent, stirring program, splendidly played and very well recorded. 
Remy Franck, Pizzicato

Michala Petri, recorder
Copenhagen Philharmonic Orchestra
American Recorder Concertos
A beautiful display of surprisingly rich modern recorder repertoire
FP BBC Music Magazine
01 May 2019
A beautiful display of surprisingly rich modern recorder repertoire. Petri delivers dynamic concertos with crystal-clear tone and perfectly-judged spikiness and lyricism. 
FP BBC Music Magazine

Michala Petri, recorder
Copenhagen Philharmonic Orchestra
American Recorder Concertos
Any serious collector of contemporary concertos would be foolish to pass this one up
David DeBoor Canfield, Fanfare USA
05 April 2019
Michala Petri has been playing recorder for all but the first two of her 61 years, and has had about the most distinguished career I suppose it is possible to have short of playing an instrument such as piano or violin that possesses a huge repertory. Her recording career extends well back into the LP era, and she has been presented on major labels such as Philips and RCA. Petri has not been content with the relatively limited concerto repertory for her instrument and has commissioned, performed, and recorded dozens of works from major composers all over the globe. James Altena and Raymond Tuttle, for instance, both reviewed a disc of English recorder concertos in 36:1, and there are at least 90 other reviews of her playing to be found in the Fanfare archive.
This Danish artist has turned to four American composers for the present recital, three of whom have written music I’ve known and loved for years. Only the fourth, Sean Hickey, is a new discovery for me, and an important one. The disc opens with Prelude, Habanera, and Perpetual Motion, a recorder concerto by Roberto Sierra, a composer who is increasingly becoming one of my favorite living composers. The work began its life originally in a version for recorder and guitar, a combination particularly favored by Petri. In fitting the work in its present orchestral garb, the composer has retained a quasi-guitar feeling through significant use of pizzicato in the strings and certain effects in the percussion. Its light scoring allows the recorder to shine in prominence throughout the work. The opening movement calls for many melismas, and is followed by a dark and mysterious habanera that takes the recorder up into the piccolo range on occasion. I had rather forgotten that the instrument (in its soprano family member) could play that high. The last movement features a constant stream of notes from both soloist and ensemble structured into groups of 3+3+2, a grouping commonly found in Latin American music. Throughout the work, Sierra’s imaginative sonorities and harmonies are on full display, and his writing always carries the listener inexorably forward to an exciting conclusion. Along the way, some extremely quick double-tonguing is demanded from the soloist.
The harmonic language of Steven Stucky in his recorder concerto, Etudes, is similar to that of Sierra, but the two pieces do not at all resemble each other on textural or structural grounds. The Stucky work is conceived in rather improvisatory fashion, eschewing much in the way of formal structure. It also features fairly wide use of special effects such as pitch bends, flutter tongue, mutes (in the orchestral instruments: I doubt it is possible to mute a recorder), and the like. Given the pitch bends, the work bears a good bit of resemblance to music I’ve heard (and written) for Native American flute, where such things are the norm rather than the exception. These also serve to give the piece a haunting quality that is usually absent from most recorder works. The Concerto concludes with a frenetic movement, featuring irregular sequences of notes from both solo instrument and ensemble, punctuated by interjections from instruments such as xylophone and temple blocks. This may be my favorite movement on the disc, and is certainly one of the most intricate and tricky to execute.
Anthony Newman’s Concerto eschews all but five instruments in the ensemble, as he restricts the accompanimental forces to a harpsichord (played by the composer) and string quartet. Readers with good memories will recall my very positive reviews of this composer’s (not quite) complete works, and subsets thereof (including a set of his Symphonies) in several reviews. The present work lives up to the high standard he demands of himself, and this ebullient and bubbly work is sheer delight from beginning to end. Newman has carved out his own niche in the American music scene, in that no one else is writing (and likely could write) music like this. He is, in short, the sui generis neo-Baroque composer of our time, and this work is a classic example of this style. Its four movements include “Toccata,” a note-infused busy exercise, “Devil’s Dance,” a tongue-in-cheek bouncy affair, “Lament,” in which Newman bridles his jocularity in favor of a simple and direct soulful song, and the zany “Furie.”
As I mentioned earlier, Sean Hickey is the new discovery for me on the present CD. His music is colorful, extremely well-orchestrated, and full of imagination and life. His A Pacifying Weapon, a substantial (half-hour) concerto for recorder and ensemble of winds, percussion, and harp, is the first combination of such forces I can recall encountering. Because this very performance has been reviewed in previous issues of Fanfare by Ronald Grames, Robert Carl, and Raymond Tuttle, all in 41:1, and by Colin Clarke (twice: also in 42:5), I need not re-invent a wheel that has so capably been created and treated (why is one of those words three syllables and the other only two?) by my colleagues. Suffice it to say that Hickey does an exceedingly good job in keeping forces that could easily overpower a recorder from doing so, and writing a work for a solo instrument that sounds like none other I’ve heard. I was greatly impressed by it and will be on the lookout for more music by this Detroit-born composer.
Michala Petri’s playing on this recital gives ample evidence why she is nonpareil in the recorder world. I simply cannot imagine these works any better performed. If there is another recorder player out there that could even match her pitch and tonguing accuracy, her musical expressiveness, and her ability to vary the very timbre of her instrument, in fact, I’m unaware of whom that might be. Her playing is superbly supported by the four different ensembles utilized in this concert. Any serious collector of contemporary concertos would be foolish to pass this one up. 
David DeBoor Canfield, Fanfare USA

Michala Petri, recorder
Copenhagen Philharmonic Orchestra
American Recorder Concertos
Petri is, of course, a genius
Rick, CD HotList - New Releases for Libraries (US)
05 April 2019
 
Petri is, of course, a genius
As the press materials point out, “it is one of the great ironies of the recorder´s long historie, that despite being ubiquitous in nearly every American public school program, few composers ever explored writing for it.” Be that as it may, luckily we have the international treasure that is virtuoso recorder player Michala Petri, who has commissioned for showpieces of contemporary classical recorder music: each of them written as a concerto… from Roberto Sierra´s and Steven Stucky´s work for recorder and orchestra to Anthony Newnan´s piece for recorder, harpsichord and string quartet and Sean Hickey´s for recorder with winds, brass, percussion and harp. Most of these pieces (two of which are presented here in world-premiere recordings) are bracingly modernist, though Newman´s hark back very explicitly to the recorder´s glory days during the baroque period. Petri is, of course, a genius.
Rick, CD HotList - New Releases for Libraries (US)

Michala Petri, recorder
Copenhagen Philharmonic Orchestra
American Recorder Concertos
10/10/10
Heinz Braun, Klassik Heute, Germany
13 March 2019
Seit nunmehr 12 Jahren veröffentlicht das kleine dänische Label OUR Recordings eine bislang beispiellose Anthologie zeitgenössischer Blockflötenkonzerte, die im Auftrag der vielfach preisgekrönten Blockflötenvirtuosin Michala Petri entstanden sind. Fürwahr eine Herkulesaufgabe und wahre Heldentat für das vielfach immer noch unterschätzte Instrument, das nicht zuletzt dank Michala Petri inzwischen auch die großen Konzertsäle der Welt erobern konnte. Mit einer Einspielung von amerikanischen Blockflötenkonzerten geht die Serie vorerst zu Ende, und wieder ist dem Team um Lars Hannibal und Michala Petri ein wahres Juwel gelungen: Vier Konzerte wie sie unterschiedlicher nicht sein könnten und doch alles Meisterwerke sui generis. Zwei der vier Kompositionen sind tatsächlich Wiederveröffentlichungen: Steven Stuckys 2000 entstandene Etudes, ein sich mit vertrackten Rhythmen, rasanten Skalenbewegungen, Glissandi und sich über Orgelpunkten und Ostinati entwickelnde athmosphärischen Klangflächen entfaltendes Werk ganz eigener Art. Ein schöner, lohnender Rückgriff auf Movements, die erste CD der Serie aus dem Jahr 2007. Sean Hickeys 2015 entstandenes dreisätziges Konzert A Pacifying Weapon (sinngemäß übersetzt: ein Werkzeug des Friedens) für Blockflöte, Bläser, Schlagzeug und Harfe war bislang nur auf Vinyl greifbar. Das Stück erhielt übrigens die Goldmedaille der Global Music Awards 2017. Für ein zeitgenössisches Blockflötenkonzert ganz sicher eine Premiere und eine „große Bühne“ für das Instrument!
Die beiden anderen Konzerte der CD entstanden eigens für diese Zusammenstellung. Zwar handelt es sich bei Roberto Sierras Prelude, Habanera and Perpetual Motion um die „Bearbeitung“ eines bereits früher für das Duo Petri/Hannibal komponierten Kammermusikwerkes für Blockflöte und Gitarre, doch gewinnt das Stück in dieser völlig neuen Fassung enorm an Charakterschärfe und Ausdruckskraft, deren atmosphärische Dichte sich im Live-Mitschnitt der Uraufführung aus dem Kopenhagener Tivoli vom Sommer vergangenen Jahres widerspiegelt und sich geradezu magisch überträgt. Anthony Newmans Konzert für Blockflöte, Streicher und Cembalo aus dem Jahr 2016 (hier in einer Version mit begleitendem Streichquartett) erfüllt mit seiner neoklassizistischen Grundhaltung, Zugänglichkeit und Spielfreude alle Voraussetzungen, ein viel gespieltes Werk des Gegenwartsrepertoires zu werden, zumal es besetzungsmäßig ein treffliches Pendant zu barocken Solokonzerten darstellt.
Heinz Braun, Klassik Heute, Germany

Michala Petri, recorder
Copenhagen Philharmonic Orchestra
American Recorder Concertos
The recorder is now a full-fledged citizen of the 21st century.
Robert Schulslaper, Fanfare USA
11 March 2019
My first impression of American Recorder Concertos was that it might be a sequel to Michala Petri’s Movements, a disc which I very favorably reviewed in Fanfare 32:2. However it’s actually the most recent of a tantalizing series devoted to recorder concertos from around the word, including Chinese Recorder Concertos, English Recorder Concertos, Danish & Faroese Recorder Concertos, with Pacific Recorder Concertos, South American Recorder Concertos, and Middle East Recorder Concertos still to come. Assuming these meet the standard set by Movements and American Recorder Concertos—and there’s no reason to presume otherwise—these discs must comprise a fascinating introduction to international contemporary recorder concerto repertoire. This newest release presents an inspired program of colorful, imaginative, and highly individual music that beautifully complements Petri’s phenomenal mastery. Just a portion of what so impressed me would include Sierra’s delightful second movement, Habanera, his third movement Perpetual Motion’s inviting 3+3+2 rhythm that prolongs the Latin ambiance, and the same movement’s conga and recorder cadenza; Stucky’s ingenious, high-flying recorder figures, superb orchestration, and sense of humor; Newman’s backwards glance at Elizabethan music that retains all the vitality and melodic appeal of the originals; and Hickey’s full-blown, almost brutal fanfares balanced by dream-like recorder solos, the numerous dance-inducing passages, and the last movement’s unexpected toe-tapping Scottish Highland reel. As Movements stunningly demonstrated previously, the recorder is now a full-fledged citizen of the 21st century and should no longer be pigeonholed as a Renaissance or Baroque holdover. Enthusiastically recommended
Robert Schulslaper, Fanfare USA

Michala Petri, recorder
Copenhagen Philharmonic Orchestra
American Recorder Concertos
Has anyone done more to expand the recorder's repertory than Danish musician Michala Petri?
Raymond Tuttle, Fanfare USA
04 March 2019
These four works are further proof that there is no need to “Make America Great Again.” Any country that can produce four concertos that are so different, and yet so consistent in terms of their quality, must already be great, even without any help from the nation's leaders!
                             Of course it helps when you, the composer, are working with a first-class soloist. Has anyone done more to expand the recorder's repertory than Danish musician Michala Petri? The booklet note states that more than 150 works have been composed especially for her. All of the concertos on this CD were written for her in 2015 or more recently, with the exception of Steven Stucky's Etudes, which date from 2000. (One notes with sadness that Stucky passed away in 2016, a victim of brain cancer.) Stucky's work is in three movements whose titles (“Scales,” “Glides,” and “Arpeggios”) are the only introduction that the music really needs, other than to say that the music is not about developing the soloist's technique; these are not exercises any more than Swan Lake is an evening at the barre! Stucky's work is rich in affect, and the central movement, in particular, creates a fascinating, open-ended emotional space.
                             The title of Roberto Sierra's three-movement work also is a more than adequate description of its contents. The first two movements are cloaked in mystery. The third bursts into the daylight, and with its Latin rhythms and turns of phrase, reminds us that Sierra was born in Puerto Rico. The original version of this work was for recorder and guitar; even so, Sierra's expert and colorful use of the orchestra perfectly complements the recorder's timbres.
                             The Concerto for Recorder, Harpsichord, and Strings is one of Anthony Newman's most successful works. Newman built his career as a sometimes unconventional performer on keyboard instruments, and mostly in the Baroque repertory. His latter-day activity as a composer has sometimes been so personal that I am unsure how to approach it. The present work, however, is very inviting in the way that it integrates looking back and looking forward. Once again, the movement titles (“Toccata,” “Devil's Dance,” “Lament,” and “Furie”) just about speak for themselves, and for the concerto as a whole.
                             I reviewed Sean Hickey's A Pacifying Weapon as an mp3 download in Fanfare 41:1. I liked it, with minor reservations, then, and like it no less now. The title is taken from a song by the Indigo Girls, but for us older farts, think of the film The Day the Earth Stood Still and you'll have a frame of reference. Given the use of multiple recorders, and an ever larger percussion instrumentarium, this piece, because of its theatrical tone, probably works better experienced live. Hickey, born in 1970, is by far the youngest composer here, and is more than a decade younger than Petri herself. He doesn't embarrass his elders, however, and, to mention another science fiction classic, we will treat A Pacifying Weapon as a promise of Things To Come.
                             The material on this CD was recorded over a period of 12 years in four different venues. Despite that, there is no variability in the awesomeness of Petri's talents, and there are no jarring differences between the recordings themselves, or between the accompanying musicians. I would have liked it if Petri's instruments had been identified because, as you probably know, a recorder is not a recorder is not a recorder; it is not atypical for a piece she plays to call on more than one of them. That said, the booklet is certainly adequate, and the performances are fare more than that. 
Raymond Tuttle, Fanfare USA

Michala Petri, recorder
Copenhagen Philharmonic Orchestra
American Recorder Concertos
The indefatigable Michala Petri continues her championship of the recorder repertoire in this beautifully recorded and annotated disc.
Colin Clarke, Fanfare USA
18 February 2019
The indefatigable Michala Petri continues her championship of the recorder repertoire in this beautifully recorded and annotated discComposer Roberto Sierra’s Prelude, Habanera and Perpetual Motion develops a 2006 piece for recorder and guitar. It is precisely this sort of piece that allows us to rethink what the recorder means (what we associate it with) and what it can achieve. The dark Prelude leads to an habanera that is more like an outline of an habanera; shadowy, elusive and slinky in a specter-like way, it leads to a Perpetual Motion that does exactly what it says on the can, with the underpinning of characteristic Afro-Caribbean rhythms. I very much enjoyed an Albany release of cello music by Sierra played by John Haines-Eitzen (Fanfare 41:5); the sheer vivacity of this “Perpetual Motion” finale reminds us of how alive his music can be. Needless to say, perhaps, but worth restating, that Petri is the nonpareil of recorder players and she is faultless here; the Tivoli Copenhagen Philharmonic is in fine, responsive form under the baton of Alexander Shelley (the son of Howard Shelley, incidentally).
Steven Stucky (1949—2016) was once known mainly as an authority on the music of Lutosławski (I personally remember an excellent lecture he gave at King’s College London to grad students in the early-mid 1980s); now, more and more, we can enjoy his own music. Stucky’s Etudes (Concerto for Recorder and Chamber Orchestra) is a more expressive piece than the title might imply. Each movement has a descriptive title (Scales, Glides, Arpeggios), none of which does justice to the delights inside, particularly in the case of the creeping (and creepy) night music of the central panel. The playing is simply remarkable. All players, not only the soloist, need their full wits about them in the scampering finale: cheeky, glittering, agile, this is magnificent, its virtuoso ed guaranteed to raise a smile. A great follow-up would be Stucky’s Album Leaves and Little Variations for David heard on Gloria Cheng’s Telarc recital (which rightly made it to two critics’ Want Lists in 2008).
The name Anthony Newman needs no introduction to Fanfare readers, surely. His huge output is consistently refreshing, in neo-Baroque style and marked by clarity of line and texture, all features of the little packet of delight that is his Concerto for Recorder, Harpsichord and Strings. Newman himself plays harpsichord. The opening Toccata is busy and expert both from composer and performers (the ripieno is performed by a string quartet) while “Devil’s Dance” has Old Nick in circus mode rather than nightmarish visions. The lower end of the recorder invites us into more interior spaces in the “Lament”; the finale is a proper romp, but listen to how Newman’s harmonies have a magnificent unpredictability about them.
Sean Hickey’s A Pacifying Weapon (2015) has already been issued on an all-Hickey OUR disc reviewed in Fanfare 41:1 reviewed as a download by myself. Interestingly enough, that disc had a neo-Baroque piece also, but that
time by Thomas Clausen (and accompanied by the Lapland Chamber Orchestra). Hickey’s piece’s immediate achievement is to ensure we can actually hear the soloist against such a barrage of wind and brass, but his keen ear and ability to work in plateau of different dynamic levels ensures the soloist more than makes her mark. Reacquainting myself with Hickey’s meditation on contemporary disquiets which uses the solo recorder as the “pacifying weapon” confirmed the stature of Hickey’s utterance. There is a real ear here for finely judged sonorities, and the work sustains its length well via the soliloquizing power of the recorder.
Both the Sierra and the Newman are World Premiere recordings; like the Hickey, Steven Stucky’s piece was released previously by OUR on a disc entitled Movements, there sharing space with music by Joan Albert Amargós and Daniel Börtz. A lavish booklet and detailed notes complete a high-class release.
Colin Clarke, Fanfare USA

DVD: MARIN (Animated Fantasy), Axel (Portrait)
SACD: Selected Highlights
Marin
Axel Borup-Jørgensen (1924-2012)
Borup – Jørgensens fantasi om havet er et hovedværk i dansk musik
Valdemar Lønsted, Newspaper Information, Denmark
09 January 2019
Information (DK)
Borup – Jørgensens fantasi om havet er et hovedværk i dansk musik
Axel Borup-Jørgensen kunne have sagt med Mahlers ord: Min tid vil komme. For det er sket inden for de sidste år, og samme profeti kunne også gælde den engang så foragtede Rued Langgaard. To markante udgivelser beviser til fulde, hvor store komponister de var.
Marin er titlen på en dobbeltudgivelse, der rummer en dvd og en cd med værker af Axel Borup-Jørgensen, og tilmed får man et smukt filmportræt af ham. Dens helt særlige attraktion er dvd´ens animerede undervandsfantasi som et visuelt parallelspor til orkesterfantasien Marin, som man kunne kalde et modstykke til Claude Debussys tre skitser til havet, La Mer. Animationen af en verden på havets bund er et eventyrligt visuelt kunststykke, som så at siger suger lytteren ind i Marin og faktisk hjælper til at følge med den uhyre komplekse strøm af klange og rytmer.
Axel Borup-Jørgensen (1924-2012) var for så vidt en sjælden fugl i det danske komponistreservat, en del år ældre end triumviratet Nørholm, Nørgård og Gudmundsen-Holmgreen. Han voksede op i Sverige i tæt kontakt med svensk natur og kultur, han begyndte at studerer på konservatoriet i København i 1946, gik stille med dørene og blev først for alvor opdaget af offentligheden, da han vandt DR´s komponistkonkurrence i1960. Førsteprisen førte til en bestilling af et nyt stort værk til radiosymfonikerne med sig, det blev Marin, som fik sin uropførelse i 1970 underledelse af Herbert Blomstedt. Gudmundsen-Holmgreen kaldte det siden for et enestående mesterværk i den danske orkesterlitteratur.
Stilhed og usynlige strømme
Borup-Jørgensen fik altså sit livs chance for at komponerer for det fuldt udbyggede symfoniorkester, og han lod den ikke passere. Det var bevidst, at han valgte et program til musikken, for han ønskede at komme i kontakt med publikum, og med et digt om havet-sådan kan man godt forestille sig, han tænkte om sin plan-skabte han sig et stort og udfordrende spillerum.
Han skitserede en udvikling ikke helt ulig Debussy: opvågnen før daggry, høj sø, glitren i sollyset, havblik, brænding, storm. Og for Borup-Jørgensen var det vigtigt, at ingen rytmiske mønstre eller klangkombinationer så vidt muligt skulle gentage sig, sådan som havets rytmer og farver heller ikke gør det. Intet måtte træde for tydeligt frem, der skulle være en helhed af klang, ingen egentlige temaer, men et perpetuum mobile uden begyndelse og slutning, hvor så at sige hvert instrument både spiller selvstændigt og lader sig opsluge af lyden fra de andre.
Det er så påfaldende, at animationen af Marin foregår på havets bund, hvor stilhed og usynlige strømme hersker i en verden af lyse pastelagtige farver. Det kunne ligne havfolkets habitat som hos H. C. Andersen, der er bjerglandskaber, og en by med sælsomme huse, forladte rum og korridorer, og alt går antydningsvist for sig med væsener, der bevæger sig elegant og målbevidst gennem elementet.
Med Borup-Jørgensens suggestivt omsluttende musik aner man åbenbaringen af et foruroligende mysterium, med de levende billeder fastholdes koncentrationen om musikkens nu. Det er en forunderlig dobbelthed.
Thomas Søndergård og radiosymfonikerne folder det ødsle partitur ud med en imponerende indforståethed, men måske skal den største ros gå til produceren Preben Iwan, som har indfanget de mange instrumentalstemmer i en mesterlig detaljeringsgrad. Bliv derefter klogere på den store komponist i filmportrættet, hvor han selv kommer til orde og bliver beskrevet af det før omtalte komponisttriumvirat, datteren Elisabet Selin, Michala Petri og mange andre. I 2018 modtog Marin-udgivelsen den tyske Grammy for bedste musikproduktion på dvd/blue-ray, og den er nomineret til en af DR´s P2- priser i 2019. 
Valdemar Lønsted, Newspaper Information, Denmark

DVD: MARIN (Animated Fantasy), Axel (Portrait)
SACD: Selected Highlights
Marin
Axel Borup-Jørgensen (1924-2012)
It is something of a milestone among Scandinavian New Music offerings in recent years.
Grego Applegate Edwards, Classical-Modern Music Review (USA)
30 April 2018
I have gone into the music of Danish composer Axel Borup-Jorgensen (1924-2012) at some length on these pages. (See articles from February 23, 2017, February 3, 2014 and September 7, 2016.) However I have not previously discussed his orchestral works. This morning I get the opportunity for that with a deluxe DVD-SACD set of Marin (Our Recordings 2.110426). The DVD contains two films that utilize Borup-Jorgensen's music, "Marin, An Animated Fantasy," and "Axel, A Portrait Film." The SACD contains the full nearly 20-minute performance of the orchestra work "Marin" plus a number of chamber works from the film of the same name.
I have no way of commenting on the DVD because every one of my players or disk drives has failed in the last several years.
On the SACD I have happily spent a good deal of time. Its nearly 80 minute length allows a good number of relevant compositions from the film(s) to be explored. The orchestral opus "Marin" gets a fully fleshed, vibrantly sonic reading from Thomas Sondergard conducting the Danish National Symphony Orchestra. Written at various stages between 1963-1970, it has a High Modernist soundscaped sonority and a good deal of dimensional depth. I would not hesitate to number this as among Borup-Jorgensen's most profound and effective works.
Another essential on the disc is his "Coast of Sirens, Op. 100" (1983-85) for flute, clarinet, violin, cello, guitar, piano, percussion and multivoice tape. The female voices ethereally evoke the seductive clarion call while the chamber ensemble wraps itself in and around the vocals with luminous elements of very modern atmospheric articulations.
The two works form a crucial set of bookends for five more sparsely configured works. There are two pieces for solo recorders, very characteristic of Borup-Jorgensen's angular contemporary treatment of the instrument. The 1955-56 "Music for Percussion + Viola" has a heightened sonic sense, a rhythmic drive and a pronounced trajectory more-or-less characteristic of the best New Music of that period. The Percurama Percussion Ensemble and Tim Frederiksen on viola contrast and commune together in ways that make for worthy listening. The 1989 "Fur Cembalo und Orgel" dramatically explores sound colors and wave-like swells while one of the 1959 "Winter Pieces" for piano gives us a gentle and chilly weathered rumination.

In all the SACD provides the modernist aficionado with the most freewheeling and variously instrumented introduction of Borup-Jorgensen's music I have yet to hear. No doubt the DVD film sequence adds to our appreciation as well. For that I do recommend you check out this offering. It is something of a milestone among Scandinavian New Music offerings in recent years. Grego Applegate Edwards, April 30 2018
Grego Applegate Edwards, Classical-Modern Music Review (USA)

DVD: MARIN (Animated Fantasy), Axel (Portrait)
SACD: Selected Highlights
Marin
Axel Borup-Jørgensen (1924-2012)
Danish composer Borup-Jørgensen was a genuine talent, a likeable maverick with an acute ear”
Graham Rickson, theartsdisk.com
24 March 2018
“Danish composer Borup-Jørgensen was a genuine talent, a likeable maverick with an acute ear”
Axel Borup-Jørgensen: Marin Danish National Symphony Orchestra/Thomas Sôndergård (OUR Recordings)
The physical effort involved in composing Marin was a huge strain on the Danish composer Axel Borup-Jørgensen (1924-2012). This ear-stretching musical seascape was made possible by its creator winning a prize in the mid-1960s, the reward including a commission for a large orchestral piece to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Danish National Symphony Orchestra in 1970. Borup-Jørgensen delivered, in spades: a shaggy monsterpiece with the orchestral strings divided into 55 parts, using something referred to, mysteriously, as "optical notation". Making a fair copy took the composer over 1000 hours, the process entertainingly described by his daughter in the booklet. A young Herbert Blomstedt conducted the premiere, following a score with pages so enormous that an ingenious means of turning them soundlessly had to be devised. You couldn't make it up. Still, this handsomely recorded new performance of Marin with the same orchestra under Thomas Søndergård is a triumph. It sounds like nothing else you'll have heard, 19 minutes of deep rumblings, dissonant note clusters and pregnant silences. Importantly, it does really suggest a vast, swelling ocean. We’re not a million miles away from the stormier bits of Debussy’s La Mer or Sibelius's Oceanides. The recording comes with an accompanying DVD including Morten Bartholdy’s CGI animated realisation of Marin, an entertainingly crazed vision of an undersea world, its denizens based on the composer's own drawings. I listened to the work before watching the film and was anticipating something darker and murkier: the crystalline brightness of the artwork came as a surprise. Still good to have though, as is the bonus documentary about Borup-Jørgensen. Which suggests that he was a genuine talent, a likeable maverick with an acute ear, able to analyse a work by Webern using graphics rather than words. It's touching to see him recalled so fondly by fellow musicians.
Marin’s vastness seems to have been a blip, Borup-Jørgensen generally preferring to write on a smaller scale. The couplings are fascinating: 1989’s Für Cembalo und Orgel (with harpsichordist Mahan Esfahani) is bewilderingly brilliant, as are two pieces for solo recorder. The second of them, Pergolato, was the composer’s last work, an elegant, melodic farewell. The disc closes with Coast of Sirens, soprano Bodil Gümes’ multitracked vocals heard against a shimmering chamber backdrop. The whole package is handsomely designed and well-annotated: a treat, in other words. What's stopping you?
Graham Rickson, theartsdisk.com

DVD: MARIN (Animated Fantasy), Axel (Portrait)
SACD: Selected Highlights
Marin
Axel Borup-Jørgensen (1924-2012)
A challenging issue, for sure; a major addition to the catalog of music by this composer
Robert Benson, Classical CD Review.com
18 Januaray 2018

Danish-born composer Axel Borup-Jorgensen (1924-2012) was a prolific composer on the Nordic musical scene. He was respected during his time, and recognized as a leader in the world of new music. He wrote for orchestra, chamber ensembles and solo instruments, and his scores are complex. He had his own sound world, and he had a passionate almost mystical regard for nature. Much of his music is subdued, almost silent. The SACD in this set contains Marin, Op.60, a 19 minute work considered to be his masterpiece. This is played by the Danish National Symphony directed by Thomas Sondegard. Then we hear the 13=minute Music for Percussion and Viola (Tim Fredenksen/Percurama Percussion Ensemble), Für Cembalo and Organ, Op. 133 (Mahan Esfahani/ Jens,. E. Christiansen), Nachtstück, Op. 118. (Elisabet Selin, recorder), Winter Pieces, Op. 30b (Erik K Kaltoft, piano), Pergolato, Op. 183 *(Michala Petri, recorder), and Coast of Sirens, Op. 100 for flute, clarinet, violin, guitar, cello, piano, percussion and "multi voice tape."with the Arhus Sinfonietta conducted by Soren Kinch Hansen. I imagine most listeners (including myself) will find little of interest in this music. The DVD features a fantasy animation of Marin created by Lückow Film and an international team of animators directed by Morten Bartholdy.The film represents symbols of the forces in the human subconscious, without a narrative, to be interpreted by the viewer. AXEL is a documentary about the composer's life and music and includes interviews and performances by some of the artists heard on the CD. A challenging issue, for sure; a major addition to the catalog of music by this composer.'

Robert Benson, Classical CD Review.com

Michala Petri, recorder
Jean Thorel, conductor
A Pacifying Weapon [LP]
Sean Hickey
Hickey´s capitalizes on the icy edge of his percussion-heavy wind band by channeling Shostakovich-like brutality against which the recorder is the picture of whimsical innocence.
Andrew Mellor, Gramophone, UK
04 February 2018
LP releases
Andrew Mellor on a handful of vinyl issues from Northern Europe specially conceived for the medium
Sean Hickey´s recorder concerto A Pacifying Weapon stands in directly timbral contrast to pretty much everything discussed. But its inclusion on the first LP release from its label reminds us that the presence achieved by analogue sound is just as transformative for hard-edged shouts and scrapes as it is for hand-holding hums and whispers. As the dichotomy of its title suggest, this is a piece in which swards are beat into ploughshares but with accomplished sleight of hands.
Hickey´s capitalizes on the icy edge of his percussion-heavy wind band by channeling Shostakovich-like brutality against which the recorder is the picture of whimsical innocence. But it is the Fife and Drums of battle that end up consoling Michala Petri´s adroit flutters, making way for her final dialogue with an exotic but subtly-deployed battery of percussion. It is filigree, agile music suited to low-fi analogue sound? This is the only record of the six that comes with a download card, Hicheys piece won´t outstay its welcome should you wish to spend some time arguing the toss. 
Andrew Mellor, Gramophone, UK

DVD: MARIN (Animated Fantasy), Axel (Portrait)
SACD: Selected Highlights
Marin
Axel Borup-Jørgensen (1924-2012)
hinaus viel Hörenwertes dieses hochinteressanten Komponisten zu entdecken gibt
Juan Martin Kock, Neue Musikzeitung, Seite 17
04 February 2018
Neue Musikzeitung (Germany)
Borup-Jørgensen: Marin, OUR Recordings (DVD und SACD)
Nach dem orchestralen Hauptwerk von Axel Borup-Jørgensen (1924-2012) benannt, enthält diese mit ausführlichem Booklet schön ausgestattete Box zweierlei: Eine SACD mit einer repräsentativen Werkauswahl sowie eine DVD mit einem animierten Musikfilm zu “Marin” und einem vierzigminutigen Portrait des dänischen Komponisten. Letzteres ist einigermassen information, aber leider is Borup-Jørgensen nicht im Bewegtbild zu zehen. Der Musikfilm zu ”Marin” begeht glüchlicherweise nicht den Fehler, den Werktitel allzu ernst zu nehmen, denn dieses ”Seestück” ist keine naturalistische Meeresbetrachtung, sondern eine hochdifferenzierte Orchesterklangsstudie. Stattdessem finden wir uns in einer bizarren, von schwebenden Pappmaaché-menschen bevölkerten Vulkanlandschaft wieder, zu von Zeichnungen des komponisten inspiriert ist. Das wirkt nicht unbedingt zwingend, ist aber durchaus suggestiv. Wer das faszinierende Werk nur hören will, kann zu dem Danish National Symphony Orchestra unter Thomas Søndergård brilliant gespielen und in überragender Klangtechnik aufgenommen SACD greifen, auf der es darüber hinaus viel Hörenwertes dieses hochinteressanten Komponisten zu entdecken gibt. 
Juan Martin Kock, Neue Musikzeitung, Seite 17

DVD: MARIN (Animated Fantasy), Axel (Portrait)
SACD: Selected Highlights
Marin
Axel Borup-Jørgensen (1924-2012)
I’m sure Axel would be pleased to be placed as he is now among the masters of Danish composers.
Perkustooth, Newmusicbuff.wordpress.com
29 January 2018
I have made no secret of my passion for the music which has been coming out of the Scandinavian portion of our planet.  My knowledge of these musical traditions is mostly limited to the twentieth century up to the present but what a horn of plenty there is to be had.  There are so many composers that it is forgivable if one of them fails to get worldwide attention and acclaim during their lifetime.  Or is it?
Well if sins of omission that have been committed all can now be forgiven and the memory of Axel Borup-Jørgenson (1924-2012) is likely guaranteed to remain solidly in the history of music of the twentieth century.  The Danes take their music very seriously it seems (check out the You Tube Channel for the Danish National Symphony Orchestra if you don’t believe me) and producer Lars Hannibal and his crew have labored tirelessly to bring this formerly obscure master most deservingly to light in this DVD/CD combo pack featuring some of his finest works.
This truly major release contains a DVD with a gorgeous animated feature synced to the late composer’s swan song big orchestral piece, Marin op. 60 (1963-70) a really beautifully produced documentary (“Axel”) on the composer featuring some of his fellow composers including, Finn Savery, Pelle Gudmunsen-Holmgreen, Bent Sørensen, Sunleif Rasmussen, Per Nørgard, Gert Mortensen, Ib Nørholm, Michala Petri, and producer Lars Hannibal along with family and other musicians and producers.
The animated feature looks like one of the finer entries one might find on Vimeo.  The animation was done by Lùckow Film and works well with the music.  The biographical feature does a spectacular job of placing the composer in context with his Nordic contemporaries and with contemporary music in general.  The people interviewed give about as definitive a description of the man’s work as can be done in a film biography and the intervening or connecting scenes bespeak a high level concept of cinematography that makes this film both compelling and a delight for the eyes as well as the mind.  The concept of the composer’s use of silence as a compositional tool seems to be reflected in these transitional scenes.
The CD consists of seven carefully selected pieces on seven tracks.  The disc opens with the big orchestra piece which was heard behind the animation on the DVD, Marin Op. 60 (1963-70) followed by Music for Percussion and Viola Op. 18 (1955-56), For Cembalo and Orgel Op. 133 (1989), Nachtstuck Op. 181 (1987) (played here by the composer’s daughter, Elisabeth Selin), Winter Pieces Op. 30b (1959) for piano, Pergolato Op. 182 (2011) for treble recorder, and Coast of Sirens Op. 100 (1980-85) for flute, clarinet, violin, cello, guitar, piano, percussion, and multivoice tape.  This is truly a balanced portrait with examples of orchestral, solo instrument, keyboard, chamber and electroacoustic works from 1959-2011, a more than fair sampling of the composer’s output both by genre and by time.
The music seems to move between post-romantic tonality and expressionistic experiments such as one hears in the music of Gyorgy Ligeti.  The music is evocative and very listenable especially if one avails one’s self of the introductory film.  It certainly seemed to tune this reviewer’s ears properly.  It is helped as well by some very fine recordings that capture the subtlety of the composer’s work.
Lars Hannibal is clearly the guiding hand in this project but his genius (he is a fine guitarist as well as a producer) is his ability to engage all these fine musicians, artists, producers, and family in what is one of the most loving portraits this writer has ever seen.  Now that is the way to blast someone out of obscurity forever.
And this is but one entry in a larger project to record the composer’s complete output.  Two previous releases were reviewed on this blog and, presumably there are more to come.  But in the meantime there is much to savor here and one hopes that this will introduce this music into the general repertoire.  I’m sure Axel would be pleased to be placed as he is now among the masters of Danish composers.
Perkustooth, Newmusicbuff.wordpress.com
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