cd reviews
currently showing records for:
Michala Petri, recorder
Mahan Esfahani, harpsichord
Corelli : La Follia
Corelli Gramophone Editor's Choice January 2015
Gramophone Magazine
16 June 2012
Gramophone UK
Editor's Choice January 2015

It's rare to experience the level of artistic rapport heard on this recording from Danish recorder player Michala Petri and Iranian-born harpsichordist Mahan Esfahani. Corelli's op.5 provides the framework for a remarkable demonstration of not only rich, idiomatic possibilities for transcriptions from violin to recorder but, significantly, the extraordinary levels of dialogue (trs 1 and 15) and genuine inspiration of the moment it inspires.
In Petri's capable hands, the recorder becomes a medium through which she conveys a more vocal interpretation of thematic material than ever a violin could. From Corelli's logical, elegant bass-lines, Esfahani crafts the most imaginative and engaging accompaniments and repartee I have ever heard, each phrase, sections and movement a skillful and stylish response (trs 1 and 14), to which he brings an astonishing range of techniques (trs 8 and 9) and instrumental colour (trs 13,17 and 19). The musical chemistry between the two musicians is palpable and most evident in the quick exchanges in the faster movements (trs 5,9,11 and 20). While there are movements of both sublime simplicity and compelling declamation (tr12), equally there is joyfulness and banter. Together, Petri and Esfahani take the application of ornamentation to new levels of sophistication (trs 2,3 and 16), exploring the implications of the music itself, commenting and reflecting on it by the way they choose the embellish repeats and points of imitation.
This is a recording that will repay repeated listening as a masterclass in musical collaboration. It breaks new and higher ground. Julie Anne Sadie, Gramophone January 2015

Gramophone Magazine

Michala Petri, recorder
City Chamber Orchestra of Hong Kong
English Recorder Concertos
Review in Musical Pointer on English Recorder Concertos
Musical Pointer Magazine
13 June 2012
English Recorder Concertos

Jacob, G: Suite for Recorder and Strings
Arnold: Recorder Concerto, Op. 133
Harvey, R: Concerto Incantato
Michala Petri (recorders)
City Chamber Orchestra of Hong Kong/Jean Thorel

OUR Recordings: 6220606

This is possibly the best of Michala Petri's many recordings, especially so for British collectors. There is something to be said for playing them in chronological order as listed above.
Gordon Jacob (1895-1984), a highly respected composer with many commissions for recorder, was prominent during the Dolmetsch era, when I was learning to play the recorder with Walter Bergmann. This Suite, in seven short movements, is one of the best of them.
Malcom Arnold's late concerto for Michala Petri (1988) is more searching, with changing moods and some acerbity - an important addition to the Arnold discography with has been celebrated by Musical Pointer.
For many of our readers, Richard Harvey's major offering (near 30 mins) will be the big surprise.
A highly successful composer of music for movies and TV, he is too a recorder player, and this ebullient concerto for Hong Kong (2009) is lavishly conceived and spiced with references to the Chinese xiao and North American flute. Quick switching between recorders of various sizes is called for, and this major addition to the repertoire deserves much wider exposure.
I leave the best to last.
The production of this CD is exemplary. There are five distinctive portrait photos of Petri by Tom Barnard (one cunningly hidden behind the booklet) and others of her in action; collages with Stonehenge and English countryside in the Peak District, together with superb photos of the world premiere concert in Hong Kong and of the orchestra holding up the traffic!
With overall production by Lars Hannibal and artwork etc by Charlotte E.Z.B.Petersen this is a model booklet, a collector's piece - rather as have latterly become some covers for old vinyl discs, now in vogue with collectors.
All that is missing from the CD is a recording of the "duo encore" for recorders given by Michala and Richard Harvey at the Hong Kong premiere - but no worry, it is here on YouTube for your delectation.
Peter Grahame Woolf,- March 2012

Musical Pointer Magazine

Michala Petri, recorder
Chen Yue, xiao and dizi
Dialogue - East Meets West
Reviews from the English internaet Magazine Musical Pointer
Musical Pointer Magazine
03 June 2012

Piazzolla, Villa-Lobos etc (Michala Petri with Lars Hannibal, guitar)
OUR recordings 2007

Chinese & western music (Chen Yue (bamboo flute with Lars Hannibal, guitar)
OUR recordings 2007

These two restful compilations go well taken in tandem. The recorder and the Chinese bamboo flute both have a coolness which gives an attractive slant on the popular music covered in these anthologies. Chen Yue gives traditional European tunes, but also the Air on the G string and Winter from The Four Seasons. Lars Hannibal partners them both and takes a few solos in the Chen Yue Spirits disc.


Michala Petri at 50

Two more CDs to celebrate Michala Petri's exploration of ever new repertoire for her instrument. She has previously worked with the Chinese traditional flutist Chen Yue, and this disc Dialogue - East meets West brings together a dozen commissions for the duo, half of them by young Chinese composers, the others by young Danish composers.

Some of these are challenging to players and listeners alike. For those of us unfamiliar with the Xiao & the Dizi. It is not always easy to be sure which player is giving which line... A video would help.

The cover image reflects their pleasure in this association; you can also see them playing together (but not this programme) on several short YouTube videos.

The other disc is a live recording with Gidon Kremer's Kremerata Baltica/Daniil Grishin at Copenhagen's Tivoli Gardens, a celebratory birthday concert on the actual date, July 7 2008. It includes a Vivaldi concerto for sopranino recorder, the work Michala has played most frequently throughout her career.

Representing her indefatigable promotion of new music, an interesting work for recorder and string orchestra by Russian composer Artem Vassiliev, not easy listening, well worth getting to know. Michala's interest in Eastern music is represented here by a concertante work The Ancient Chinese Beauty by Chen Yi.

These are both attractive discs, recommended to recorder players and everyone interested in the recorder, as are the others in this expanding series.

Peter Grahame Woolf

Musical Pointer Magazine

Michala Petri, recorder
Chen Yue, xiao and dizi
Dialogue - East Meets West
Nice first review of Dialogue in Danish Newspaper Politiken
03 June 2012
Michala Petri spiller så ørerne blafrer
Danske Michala Petri har vovet sig ud i det usikre med sin nye kinesiske fløjtemakker på nyt ungdommeligt album.
Af  Henrik Friis
Yao Hu læner sig op ad den kinesiske tradition med lange udsmykkede linjer og stor ro, og Pernille Louise Sejlund skaber smukke flimrende klange med den europæiske blokfløjte og dens kinesiske fætter xiao.

Gang Chens musik lyder som hardcore amerikanske støjeksperimenter med sin stramt blændende toneverden, mens tonerne fra Anders Monrad er minimale og mekaniske.

Michala Petri har vovet sig ud i det usikre med sin nye kinesiske fløjtemakker. Ukendt ung musik som kulturel dialog.

Det tager mindst et par værker at vænne sig til den specielle klang og lære nuancerne at kende, men så fungerer det også. Alle komponister er lige så uprøvede, som de er forskellige, og det giver nogle ujævnheder undervejs.

Anderledes oplevelser
Men spillet er rigtig godt, og man får anderledes oplevelser, så ørerne blafrer.

Det er altid sympatisk, når etablerede musikere lægger ryg til helt unge og uprøvede komponisters musik, og beundringsværdigt, at Michala Petri begiver sig ud i et så musikalsk skrøbeligt projekt.

Ti spritnye værker af folk stort set alle under 30 i en temmelig eksotisk duo giver overhængende risiko for at miste trofaste pladekøbere.

De kan nu bare købe løs ? man bliver overrasket.

iBYEN synes

Michala Petri, recorder
City Chamber Orchestra of Hong Kong
English Recorder Concertos
Top review in Classical CD Review on English Recorder Concertos
Classical CD Review
24 May 2012
In November 2010 this site mentioned a superb recording of Chinese recorder concertos played by Michala Petri. Now we have another terrific recording by this remarkable artist, on a new label, OUR Recordings. It is a total delight in every way, featuring three generations of English composers. Richard Harvey (b. 1953) has written music for many films. His Concerto Incantato written in 2009 for Petri is a delightful 5-movement suite. Malcolm Arnold (1921-2006) wrote his concerto in 1988 for Petri, and it is given a stunning performance (this is Petri's third recording of it). A delightful close to the program is the Suite for Recorder and Strings composed in 1957 by Gordon Jacob (1896-1984), 7-movements ending with a dazzling Tarantella. Petri is in top form, the orchestra is wonderful, audio excellent if not particularly "surround." A quality issue, highly recommended!

Robert Benson (April 2012)

Classical CD Review

Michala Petri, recorder
Mahan Esfahani, harpsichord
Corelli : La Follia
Fantasic review in "The Classical Reviewer" on Corelli
Fanfare Magazine
20 May 2012
A new release from OUR Recordings of six of Corelli's opus 5 sonatas in performances by Michala Petri and Mahan Esfahani that are an absolute delight

Arcangelo Corelli's (1653-1713) twelve sonatas for violin and harpsichord, Op. 5 were published in Rome in 1700 and dedicated to the Electress Sophie Charlotte of Brandenburg. The first six of these sonatas are sonatas da Chiesa (church sonata) and the second six sonatas da camera (chamber sonata).
Renowned recorder player Michala Petri  joins with the critically acclaimed harpsichordist, Mahan Esfahani  to perform an 18th century transcription for recorder and harpsichord of the last six of Corelli's Op.5 sonatas on a new recording from OUR Recordings

In fact these artists do not keep rigidly to the edition published by London publisher, John Walsh but, where appropriate follow Corelli's 1700 version as well as adding their own spontaneity. The name John Walsh will of course be familiar as the publisher of many of Handel's works.
Michala Petri and Mahan Esfahani open with the Sonata in G minor, Op. 5, No. 12, 'La Follia', perhaps Corelli's most famous piece. This receives a particularly lovely performance, opening with Petri's pure toned recorder around which Esfahani provides some lovely fluent decorative chords, before leading to some wonderfully fast passages where both players show their considerable dexterity. Their tempi are spot on with some beautifully languid slow passages that perfectly offset the more dynamic moments. A terrific performance.
The Preludio – Vivace of Sonata in G minor, Op.5 No.7 opens joyfully, these players adding a lovely dancing flow and sparkle before the Corrente – Allegro which moves forward at a fine pace with some very fine intricate playing from both Petri and Esfahani. These two artists provide terrific ensemble. Petri's tone and shaping of notes is impressive as is her incredible fluency. There is a spacious, beautifully laid outSarabande – Largo before the final Giga – Allegro, a lively buoyant movement that moves along with a tremendous rhythmic bounce. This is exceptionally fine playing.
There is a really fine opening to the Sonata in C major, Op. 5 No.9 a Preludio - Largo with Petri's lovely tone providing a flowing melody over Esfahani's florid beautifully decorative accompaniment with lovely shaping of phrases. There follows another rhythmically buoyant movement, the Giga – Allegro an absolute joy before the Adagio where Esfahani's beautifully laid out accompaniment provides the perfect foil to Petri's beautifully decorated playing.  Petri and Esfahani really move forward in the concluding Tempo di Gavotta – Allegro with terrific ensemble, fluency and agility, playing of the highest calibre.
With the Preludio - Adagio of Sonata in G major, Op.5 No. 11 the tempo is perfectly judged, with Petri's longer phrases leading over Esfahani's nicely paced harpsichord accompaniment to perfection. TheAllegro is a joy with Petri's well pointed phrases and Esfahani's wonderful accompaniment. There is another short linking Adagio with beautifully decorated passages before the light and joyful Vivace. TheGavotta - Allegro reveals more of these artists fine affinity with great ensemble and understanding
Petri and Esfahani bring a lovely long breathed flow to the Preludio - Largo of the Sonata in G minor, Op.5 No.8, Petri providing a lovely tone. There is a beautifully light and fluent  Allemanda – Allegro and a gently flowing  Sarabanda - Largo that moves forward so naturally before the concluding Giga - Allegrowhich has a lovely spring in its step as well as more fine interplay between these soloists.
These two fine players conclude with the Sonata in G major, op.5 No.10 where in the Preludio - Adagioharpsichordist, Mahan Esfahani again sets off Michala Petri's lovely fluent playing so well. The Allemanda - Allegro trots along at a lovely pace before the beautifully done Sarabanda - Largo with these artists keeping a slow tempo and bringing out every little detail. A brief buoyant Gavotta - Allegro precedes the final Giga - Allegro giving a terrific conclusion, full of life and buoyancy, to these sonatas.
These players make an absolutely terrific duo in transcriptions that seem to fall so naturally to these instruments. The very fine recording from Garnisonskirken, Copenhagen, Denmark gives a nice acoustic around the players whilst retaining detail and clarity. There are informative notes from Mahan Esfahani in the nicely illustrated booklet. There is a small error on the booklet and rear of the case that gives the C major sonata No. 9 as being Op.7 where, of course it is Op.5. This is a small matter on a release that is an absolute delight. November 25th 2014

Fanfare Magazine

Michala Petri, recorder
Mahan Esfahani, harpsichord
Corelli : La Follia
Great IRR review on Corelli!
IRR Magazine
20 May 2012
International Record Review (IRR-UK)
Comparisons: Steger, The English Concert/Cummings (Harmonia Mundi)
                        Temmingh, Watts (Oehms Classics)
The 300th anniversary of Arcangelo Corell's death passed unceremoniously in January 2013, though several record labels have since capitalized on this opportunity to thrust the composer back into the limelight. New traversals of Corelli's op. 5 Sonatas from Avison Ensemble and Pavlo Beznosiuk on Linn and from the Trio Corelli on bridge Records (reviewed in March 2013 and June 2012 respectively) have each afforded fresh perspectives on this seminal group of pieces upon which, declared Dr Charles Burney in 1776, all good schools for the violin have since been founded.
Today, it is hard to fully appreciate the clamorous expectation with which new works by the great Italian master would have been awaited throughout Europe's musical capitals, and to understand how, so soon after its publication, Corelli's music was often rearranged and transcribed for instrumental combinations for which wily publishers were always assured handsome profits.
It shouldn't surprise us either to find that many unauthorized and speculative revisions involved that most utilitarian of instruments, and part of the essential daily equipment for any civilized gentleman of letters, the recorder. This new disc from OUR Recordings featuring the acclaimed Danish virtuoso Michala Petri and former BBC New generation Artist Mahan Esfahani accompanying on the harpsichord is one of several currently available which feature the recorder.
Textual material used here derives from a number of sources, primarily the original the original Roman printing of 1700. However, rather confusingly, it is an undated reprint for flute (otherwise recorder, where no flauto traverso was available, since both instruments were widely considered interchangeable at the time) issued by the London publisher John Walsh that furnishes the scores used here by Petri and Esfahani. The original frontispiece, which has been reproduced in the attractive and lavishly illustrated booklet, reassured the would-be purchaser that the whole (in this case just the last six sonatas of Op. 5, the so-called Sonate di Camera) has been exactly transposed and made fit for a flute and a bass, with the approbation of several eminent masters.
One need hardly add, of course, that Petri's performance are superlative, though for all their excellence, there's also no denying that the music loses something of its engaging effect because of the necessarily limited tonal palette of the recorder itself. Contemporary reports of Corelli's own playing often suggested an element of almost Paganinian theatrics, with Roger North relating in 1728 that he never met any man that suffered his passions to hurry him away so much whilst he was playing upon the violin as the famous Arcengelo Corelli, whose eyes will sometimes turn red as fire; his countenance will be distorted, his eyeballs roll as in an egony, and he gives in so much to what he is doing that he doth not look like the same man!
There's no comparable diablerie There's no comparable diablerie about these new accounts, however, and despite necessarily circumscribed expressive possibilities, Petri and Esfahani still manage to sound absolutely bewiching throughout this uncannily beautiful recording from Copenhagen's Garnisionskirken. Such is the musical chemestry between them that one soon becomes fully attuned to hearing this familiar music performed on the recorder.
Anyone after more varied takes on Corelli's Op. 5 Sonatas might well enjoy hearing Maurice Stegers's fascinating Harmonia Mundi release, " Mr. Corelli in London", in which he plays a variety of what might today be called cover versions of these works with the English Concert directed by Laurence Cummings. They offer transcriptions in a wide variety of different settings, as popularized back in the day by such figures as Geminiani (Corelli's disciple), Paisible, Castrucci, Babel and Loeillet,- all of whom arranged these works in order to satisfy insatiable popular demand during the 1700s. Steger's playing is impressive enough, yet the principal virtue of this release is that the accompaniments themselves prove fascinatingly diverse.
Equally, if you're happy enough with just harpsichord accompaniment alone, then look no further than Petri's and Esfahani's immaculately played and diligently prepared new accounts, which seem in every way the last word in tasteful and elegant musicianship, with a magical recording to boot. There are also the capable and stylish Oehms performance  from Stefan Temmingh and harpsichordist Olga Watts, which are entirely recommendable, too, but those recorded sounds lacks the bloom and sophistication of this new SACD version. Michael Jameson, International Record Review, December 2014

IRR Magazine

Michala Petri, recorder
Mahan Esfahani, harpsichord
Corelli : La Follia
Great 5 Star review in leading Danish Newspaper Berlingske Tidende on Corelli!
Berlingske Tidende
20 May 2012
Michala Petris disciplinerede magi
Michala Petri har lige udsendt sit bedste barokalbum i mange år – og er stadig en ørn til liveoptrædener.
Vi har hørt den gamle vurdering til bevidstløshed:
Michala Petri hører måske nok til landets bedste musikere. Hun har bare sit instrument imod sig.
Det med instrumentet kan være lidt rigtigt. Omrejsende virtuos på blokfløjte er ikke uden grund en sjældenhed. Barokkens lille blæserør kan savne slagkraft, farver i klangen, spændvidde i tonerne.
Petris særklasse står til gengæld stærkere end nogensinde. Hvad enten man ser den 56 år gamle stjerne i Mogens Dahls Koncertsal eller lægger hendes seneste CD på anlægget.
For hendes spil virker stadig mere kraftfuldt. Hun lægger stadig flere farver på blokfløjtens repertoire. Og hun kan varierer tonerne inden for den snævre ramme i det uendelige.
Petri har arbejdet med en syndflod af stjerne gennem årene. Hendes seneste spillepartner skulle blive den unge Mahan Esfahani- iranskfødt ekspert på cembalo og nybagt modtager af den hæderfulde Gramophone Award.
De to ligner ikke umiddelbart et indlysende match: Petri er den lidt stramme dame med bevidst nedtonet scenestil. Esfahani er showmand af den anden verden og kan tale en vis herre øret af.
Men de fungerer fuldstændig lydefrit sammen. Hun holder has improvisationer ved tangenterne lidt i ave. Han giver hende luft til endnu flere virtuoserier på fløjten.
Et arrangement som i torsdags er først og fremmest utroligt generøst. Parret kunne sagtens have spillet uddrag fra deres første album sammen og færdig.
Den stopfulde sal får bare uendelig meget mere:
Sonater af gamle Corelli. Værker af Johan Sebastian Bach og sønnen Carl Philipp Emanuel. Og oven i det hele så hele to forrevne mesterstykker af næsten ny dato.
Fantasien af Axel Borup-Jørgensen klinger i hvert fald fantastisk i deres hænder. Den nyligt afdøde dansker komponerede fuldstændig, som vi husker manden selv: Avantgardistisk og intellektuelt udfordrende - men samtidig utroligt venlig og i kontakt med følelserne.
Albummet er viet seks af sonaterne fra Corellis næstsidste opus anno 1700. herunder den berømte "La Follia", hvis arveanlæg skulle passere videre til menuetten fra "Elverhøj".
De i alt 23 skæringer blev oprindeligt skrevet for violin. At høre dem på blokfløjte har som regel været knap så spændende.
Men når Michala Petri leverer luften, kommer der sorg og ny stemning ind over. Hun får også forbløffende meget pynt af den fingernemme slags med. Og Cembaloet klinger rundt og skønt som den fineste guitar.
Et velproduceret album. To forskellige kunstnere i overraskende samdrægtighed. Seks skønne sonater fra pudderparykkens tid og med lige tilpas mange dikkedarer.  Koncert: 5 stjerne og CD: 5 stjerner. Søren Schauser, Berlingske 11.10.2014
Berlingske Tidende

Michala Petri and Lars Hannibal
Virtuoso Baroque
Gramophone review on "Virtuoso Baroque"
Gramophone Magazine
02 May 2012
There can be little doubt that if any recorderplayer has the right to give  their CD the title "Virtuoso Baroque", it is Michala Petri. Here she proves her fitness by wading into three technique-bending warhorses from the violin repertoire - the Vitali Chaconne, Corelli's Folia and Tartini's Dervil's Trill Sonata- and emerges the other side with scarcely a ruffle. In music both fast and slow her poise remains absolute, thanks to lightning fingerwork, precision tonguing, fautless breath control and unfailing eveness of tone and tuning. There must be few recorderplayers anywhere who can match this, and the cool-handed athleticism is no less impressive in some of the actual wind pieces including here in the form of sonatas by Telemann, Bach, Chedeville and Handel. At its best, the cheer sound of Petri's playing can shoot a thrill through you like an iced drink on a hot day.
But this, of course, is precisely where the reservations creep in, because for all the attention to detail, stylish command of line and tasteful ornamentation, there are times when the final sparks of excitement and human warmth are missing. The Corelli is disappointingly reserved, the Tartini final lacks dramatic power, and the Pastorale of the Chedeville needs more drowsy atmosphere. Lars Hannibal's solid but unremarkable accompaniments do not help a great deal. Listen to this CD and you will gape in wonder at Petri's technical brilliance, but in the end you may find at a deeper level that the music has left you strangely unmoved. Linsay Kemp, Gramophone January 2012
Gramophone Magazine

Michala Petri, recorder
The Danish National Vocal Ensemble
I Dreamt a Dream
Songs of the Danish Heartland
American Record Guide on "Drømte mig en Drøm"
American Record Guide
01 May 2012
UPC 636943690727, Dromte m ig en drom, American Record Guide:
The good news is that this is a lovely, lyrical anthology of Danish songs—several of them from the folk idiom—recorded in a warm, clear acoustic by a superb choir that knows and loves what it's doing. Crowning their efforts is the playing of recorder virtuoso Michala Petri, whose obbligatos add a spectrum of buoyant and handsome colors to the singing. My kids grew up listening to a wonderful program of folk songs from around the world with Jean- Pierre Rampal and Maurice Andre playing along. While this program isn't for children— not expressly so, anyway—Petri's delightful interpolations took me back to those many hours of happy family singing.

The bad news is that the notes and texts are in Danish only. Sigh. So while I imagine I'm being crooned to about dreamy sunsets along the Skagerrak and life's enduring pleasures at the corner of North and Baltic, the truth is I have no idea what they're singing about and neither will most of you. Double sigh. © 2013 American Record Guide

American Record Guide

Michala Petri and Lars Hannibal
Virtuoso Baroque
Great review on Virtuoso Baroque in Southern CA Early Music Society Newsletter
Southern CA Early Music Society Newsletter
01 May 2012
Also, don't let the month pass by without enjoying the masterful recital by recorder virtuoso Michala Petri and archlutist Lars Hannibal. Since performing in 1992 at the Monastery La Cartuja de la Sierra in Andalusia, Spain, they have dominated the marked for recorder-archlute in programs of music from the late renaissance and early baroque to contemporary works written for especially for them. In 2006, the duo formed OUR Recordings, to present their continuing musical adventures. To celebrate their 20th anniversary, Petri-Hannibal have recorded their most popular Baroque hits, from moody Telemann, chirpy Vivaldi, and mellifluous and consoling Bach, to the fireworks of Corelli's La Folia and Tartini's Devil's Trill Sonata. The playing is ravishing, the sound is almost decadently intimate.
Southern CA Early Music Society Newsletter

Michala Petri, recorder
The Danish National Vocal Ensemble
The Nightingale
Great Pizzato review on The Nightingale
Pizzicato Magazine
02 April 2012
Alle Chorsänger, die sich auch für zeitgenössische Choirmusik interessieren, werden an dieser CD mit Weltersteeinspielungen von Werken für Blockflöte und Chor Gefallen finden. Michala petri und das "Danish National Vocala Ensemble" laden ein zu einer Musikalischen Nordlandreise. Die vier Werke, entstanden zwischen 2006 und 2011, entführen in geheimnisvollen Klanglandschaften. "Die Nachtigall" des Ltettische Komponisten Ugis Praulins basiert auf dem Märchen von Hans Christian Andersen, in dem die flötende Nachtingall über den Choirstikmmen Schwebt.
In seinem sehr suggestiven und stimmungsvollen Stück "Nemesis Divina" schreibt der Schwede Daniel Börtz eine ätherishe Engelsmusik. "I" Sunleif rasmussens Vertonung eines Gedicht von Inger Christensens, ist eine literarish-musikalische Meditation über das menscheliche Dasein. Der junge dänische Komponist Peter Bruun setzt sich mit dem Mystizismus des britischen Lyrikers Gerad Manley Hopkins auseinander.
Dier auf die Wirkung der Stimmen im Klangraum setzenden Surround-Produktion hüllt den Hörer mit Tönen ein, die allesamt von oben zu kommen scheinen. Das Danish National Vocal Ensemble" beeindruckt dabei mit seinem sehr differenzierten un klaren, nuancenreichen und fein abgestimmen Singen, das immer einen teil Mysterium in die Musik einbringt!
n.t. Pizzicato Februar 2012
Pizzicato Magazine

Michala Petri, recorder
City Chamber Orchestra of Hong Kong
English Recorder Concertos
Great reveiw on English Recorder Concertos in Musicweb International
Music Web International
25 March 2012
Richard HARVEY (b.1953)
Concerto Incantato (2009) [28:29]
Malcolm ARNOLD (1921-2006)
Concerto for Recorder and Strings, Op.133 (1988) [11:55]
Gordon JACOB (1895-1984)
Suite for Recorder and Strings (1957) [18:30]
Michala Petri (recorder)
City Chamber Orchestra of Hong Kong/Jean Thorel
rec. 24-29 May 2011, Hong Kong Cultural Centre
OUR RECORDINGS 6.220606 [59:06]

Let's deal with the top and bottom lines first. This is one of the best CDs of recorder music that I have ever heard. Full stop. However, four things need to be said. Firstly, that this particular instrument is not my favourite: it comes a long way down my personal batting list which is crowned by piano and cello. I guess that I associate it with my own excruciating attempts to play Greensleeves as a nine year old scholar. My contemporaries were not much better either. Secondly, the tone of the 'English flute' is something that needs to be heard in relatively small doses. To this end, I advise taking each of these works one by one – with small refreshment breaks in-between. Thirdly, I have never heard of Michala Petri – I ought to have. She is utterly brilliant. Finally, notwithstanding 'point one' above, I have long regarded the legendary John Turner as the master of recorder music. It is rare for me to listen to any work for this instrument that is not played or recorded by him. So this is, for me at any rate, new territory.

The Richard Harvey Concerto Incantato is officially billed as a 'world premiere recording'. However I have not heard the Arnold or the Jacob before. I have discovered that Michala Petri did record the Jacob in 1984 on Philips Digital.

If I am honest, I have never heard of Richard Harvey either. Once again, I should have. For one thing he contributed to Hans Zimmer's score for the Da Vinci Code. Born in 1953, he graduated from the Royal College of Music in 1972. He has involved himself with many genres of music – from medieval to rock – he had a progressive rock and folk band called Gryphon. One point of note: his 'modest' web-site (Richard Harvey: Renowned Composer, Arranger Conductor and Multi-Instrumentalist) is very difficult to read – white text on black!

Harvey's Concerto is interesting, if not totally satisfying. When I read that he was a film-music composer, I did wonder if it would suffer from sounding like a compilation from his film scores and to a certain extent I believe this is true. However, the Concerto is a valid work in its own right. The listener needs to remember that Harvey is an accomplished recorder player – and other instruments too. His website notes that he can play some 700 different instruments from around the world! I would be delighted to manage just one well.

The Concerto Incantato was written specifically for Michala Petri and was commissioned by Leanne Nicholls for the City Chamber Orchestra of Hong Kong's tenth anniversary concert.

The sleeve-notes suggest an eclectic stylistic background to the work and this is exactly what we hear. The composer quite clearly draws extensively on his television and film score background, although this is supplemented by his interest in medieval music.

The concerto is written in five movements and makes use of the full set of recorders. The first movement is entitled Sorcery and I must admit does have a distinct Harry Potter mood to it. The orchestration fairly shimmers. The second is entitled Natura Morta - Still Life. Here the composer has used the tenor recorder and has had recourse to ethnic music derived from China and the native North-American flute. It is a thoughtful, almost static piece that lulls the listener into a dream-like world. The following Danza Spiriti (Dance of the Sprits) destroys the reverie. This is exciting music that chases itself around in circles. The next movement is the meditative Sacra Canzone featuring what the composer has called the English Theme. This leads to the finale which once again nods to Harry Potter – Incantesimi – Spells. This, for me, is the least impressive part of the work. The minimalist recorder figurations become tedious. However the music builds up to a hectic dance, before the English Theme is reprised. I am not sure I like the 'medieval' mood in parts of this movement.

In the round this is a reasonably impressive and virtuosic work – however I hold it to be a little unbalanced between the parts. If this is music for the 'Harry Potter' generation, as billed in the liner-notes then I am not quite convinced.

Malcolm Arnold's 1988 Concerto was composed specifically for Michala Petri. I know that there are mixed views about the quality of this work. It is not one of my favourites from the composer's pen. Yet there is plenty of interest and one or two touches of the 'old' Arnold. I guess that I am a little concerned that the balance of work is faulty. There is such a difference stylistically between the complex passacaglia of the second movement and the 'St Trinians' mood of the finale. And I cannot quite weigh up the opening movement. Yet the concerto has some interesting things. It probably deserves its place in the repertoire.

Gordon Jacob needs no introduction to readers of these pages. However, I think it fair to say that his music is largely under-represented in the catalogues with only nine CDs containing his music. This compares to 159 for Malcolm Arnold. The present Suite was commissioned by Arnold Dolmetsch in 1957. It has been rightly regarded as a 'divertissement' rather than anything more serious. It is presented in seven well-balanced movements. The Suite opens with a delightfully 'pastoral' Prelude. This is followed by a lively English dance which is just way too short. Then there is a Lament. However, this is not too depressing and has a 'smoochy' feel to it rather than one of heartbreak. The string writing here is particularly beautiful. It is the longest movement in the suite. I love the exciting Burlesca alla Rumba which is all sunshine. This is followed by an epitome of English pastoral – the Pavane. Here are impressions of fields and rivers and up-and-down dales. The penultimate movement, an Introduction and Cadenza is also illustrative of the landscape although this time in valedictory mood. For me it is the heart of the work. The finale, Tarantella is fun all the way. Jacob calls for the soprano recorder to give brightness and sparkle to the last moments of this Suite.

Michala Petri has some sixty CDs listed in the Arkiv catalogue. The range of music covered is phenomenal. From Bach to Ole Bull and from Fauré to Frederick the Great, she has recorded a huge variety of works. Noted as a child prodigy, she began playing recorder aged three, took serious lessons at five and by 11 years she made her concerto debut. She often played together with her mother Hanne, a harpsichordist and her brother David, cellist as part of the Petri Trio. Nowadays, she often gives concerts with her husband, the lutenist and guitarist, Lars Hannibal. Both Petri and her husband run their own record label – OUR Recordings. The present disc is one of more than a dozen released in the past eight years.

However, it is not just Michala Petri who has given a superb performance. Jean Thorel at the helm of the City Chamber Orchestra has contributed a sympathetic accompaniment to these three concertos.

This is an enjoyable CD that is well played and features a diverse programme. In spite of my reservations about the Malcolm Arnold Concerto and the stylistic balance of the Richard Harvey I feel that it will be essential listening for enthusiasts of recorder music. The presentation of the disc is impressive: it looks and feels good. The sound quality is excellent. I enjoyed the liner-notes – they are both informative and entertaining.

My favourite work, by a long shot, is Gordon Jacob's Suite and I will turn to this recording to enjoy this piece on many occasions.

John France, June 2012

This is one of the best CDs of recorder music that I have ever heard. Full stop.

Music Web International

Michala Petri, recorder
The Danish National Vocal Ensemble
The Nightingale
Great Gramophone review on The Nightingale
Gramophone Magazine
14 March 2012
Layton in Denmark for another Baltic voyage!
This new disc reinforces the extraordinary strengths of the Danish choral tradition. Here are voices of mature suppleness and agility, surveying new music by Nordic quartet of a Dane, a Latvian, a Swede and a Faroese, stirring from a deep wellspring of creativity and all sung in English. The oldest piece recorded here (a mere four years old) is Nemesis divina by Daniel Börtz, born in Sweden in 1943. This is a challenging "musical/metaphysical meditation" on the word "man" reminiscent of 1970s Berio but none the worse for it. Rasmussen's "I" is equally challenging on first hearing, full of twist and turns.
The Nightingale (2011) by Latvian Ugis Praulins is essentially a 30-minutes concerto, sonsisting of a series of eight colourful tableaux based on Hans Christian Andersen's tale of the Emperor and The Nightingale. It demands a astonish choral range of four octaves. The seventh section " The Artificial Bird", is a marvel of invention, with percussive imitations and multiphonics. The ornithological theme is continued with Bruun's pair of Hopkins bird-poem settings. In an accessible and diatonic idiom, they make a splendid and satisfying conclusion the distinctive programme.
Needless to say. Stephen Layton steers his peerlessly virtuoso musicians through this electric and innovative mix with his customary polish and dramatic energy. Also running through it all like a golden thread is Michala Petri's iridescent playing. She uses the full "chest" of recorders with mercurial ease. This is an unequivocal treat for connoisseurs of fine choral singing and recorder lovers alike.
Malcolm Riley, March 2012
Gramophone Magazine

Michala Petri and Lars Hannibal
Virtuoso Baroque
Very nice review in Audiophile on Virtuoso Baroque
Audiophile Magazine
09 March 2012
This unusual duo has been around for a decade, having given nearly 1500 concerts of repertory from the late Renaissance to the present, including works especially composed for them. They have released five CDs so far, and in 2006 formed their own label, Our. This new release celebrates their 20th anniversary performing together, with a new program of their most requested Baroque selections as a gift to their fans around the world. In a way it is a return to their roots as one of the best early music duos, and an interesting alternative to the usual early music duo of harpsichord and recorder.

The Baroque was known for benefiting from a unique pan-European exchange of musical ideas. Some of these composers were very cosmopolitan, and all were influenced by developments in music outside of their particular areas. Some of the Baroque highlights of this program include the famous Vitali Chaconne in g, Bach's Sonata in F Major BWV 1033—about which much controversy has engaged musicologists as to whether he in fact wrote it or not, Corelli's 11-minute treatment of the  famous early music theme La Folia, and Tartini's notorious "Devil's Trill" Sonata in g. Petri makes everything—especially the challenging Vitali Chaconne—sound so effortless. There is never the least concern that you might hear one of the ungainly squawks that can emanate from less-virtuoso recorder players.

Petri is one of the world's top recorder artists, and Danish musician Hannibal is noted for his many guitar and lute recordings. The note booklet is very detailed, with information and background on each of the selections. The DSD/DXD format recording was made the Our studios in Denmark, and the sonics of both instruments on the soundstage are outstanding.

—John Sunier

Audiophile Magazine

Michala Petri, recorder
The Danish National Vocal Ensemble
The Nightingale
Fantastic review on The Nightingale in Daily Classical Music
Daily Classical Music
07 March 2012
At various intervals this bewitching CD brings to mind compositions by twentieth century composers from England, Germany and Hungary; viz -- William Walton (1902-1983), Mike Oldfield (born 1953), Carl Orff (1895-1982) and György Ligeti (1923-2006).
Much of the music evokes desolate, glaciated, taiga-tundra landscapes -- Karelia, northern Minnesota.. Equally it (unintentionally?) suggests limitless interstellar voids, as in Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968).
Avian life (nightingale, blackbirds and skylark) is visited in sparse, isolated, aerial settings yet joyfully injected via Petri's pure, filigree sopranino and treble imput.
First published (Copenhagen, 1843) in New Fairy Tales, Hans Christian Andersen's yarn is believed to have been inspired by the author's unrequited love for diva Jenny Lind (1820-1887), the 'Swedish nightingale'. 'The Nightingale' has been adapted for opera, ballet, musical play, TV drama and animated cinema.
The first few seconds took me back to 1968 and episodes from Stanley Kubrick's mind-expanding deep-space conundrum 2001: A Space Odyssey.
Listen -- Ugis Praulins: Introduction (The Nightingale)
(track 1, 0:00-1:00) © 2011 OUR Recordings:
However 'The Nightingale' settles down and though much within its length (tracks 1-9) is austere, The Danish National Vocal Ensemble (DNVE) perform with the unanimity and beauty of a precise, finely tuned instrument.
Track 2, 'Nightingale Theme' is part sung, part spoken, and tracks 3 and 4 illustrate the vocal agility/versatility of the Danish (DNVE) singers. Listen for Petri's extraordinary, immaculate solos on tracks 5 and 7, and Praulin's mastery of consistent and instantly accessible vocal writing.
Listen -- Ugis Praulins: The Artificial Bird (The Nightingale)
(track 7, 2:41-4:00) © 2011 OUR Recordings:
His setting of The Nightingale (Danish: 'Nattergalen') by Andersen (1805-1875) tells the fable of an emperor who prefers the tinkling of a bejeweled robotic bird to the song of a real nightingale. As the Emperor lies dying the nightingale's song restores his health.
The 'Reprise' (track 9) takes us back to an unsullied yet otherworldly conclusion.
Ligeti works in the Kubrick (1928-1999) movie are (a) Atmosphères, (b) Lux Aeterna, Requiem and Kyrie, and the electronically altered version of (c): Aventures (for 2001's abstruse final scenes).
Somewhere in the 58+ minute Petri/Layton Norse/Faroes experience I believe I caught a ghostly vibration of Tubular Bells (1973), a debut record album of Mike Oldfield, and the first album released by Virgin Records.
Nemesis divina by Carolus Linnaeus (1707-1778) reveals a little-known side of the great natural historian. A classic of Swedish literature it influenced Stockholm-born playwright, novelist, poet and essayist August Strindberg (1849-1912) and his contemporaries.
A guide to divinity, the book explores the occult operation of a Theologia experimentalis, a 'pragmatic theology', for men and women, Linnaeus' friends and acquaintances.
In retrospect an award-winning poet, scholar and commentator has revised Linnaeus' fascinating and eloquent work in a broad literary and philosophical context, linking it to disparate studies; viz New England Transcendentalism, the subculture of Norwegian Black Metal, ancient Icelandic sagas and contemporary Swedish poetry.
Consequently Nemesis divina is a source of lasting intrigue for scholars in the arts and humanities.
Listen -- Daniel Börtz: Nemesis divina (text: Carl von Linné)
(track 10, 9:23-10:47) © 2011 OUR Recordings:
With Börtz's Linnaeus setting we find passing likenesses to Belshazzar's Feast by William Walton (1902-1983), first performed at the Leeds Festival on 8 October 1931 and echoes of Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) utilizing music of György Ligeti (1923-2006). Petri's solos are distantly subsumed into the work as a whole.
Rasmussen's I is the setting of a text by Inger Christensen (1935-2009), a Danish poet, novelist, essayist and editor considered her country's foremost poetic experimentalist. (See the Newsletter from Gehrmans Musikförlag & Fennica Gehrman, Autumn 2006).
In this bleak, contemplative, inward-looking lyric Christensen responds to the austere Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird (1917) by American poet and lawyer Wallace Steven (1879-1955).
I is prefaced with the words 'A man and a woman are one.
A man and a woman and a blackbird are one'.
Listen -- Sunleif Rasmussen: I
(track 11, 1:08-2:36) © 2011 OUR Recordings:
During the late 1970s Sunleif became aware of 'spectralism', a composition practice where decisions are often informed by the analysis of sound spectra. To some degree it is computer-based using tools like DFT, FFT and spectrograms. The approach focuses on manipulating the features identified through this analysis, interconnecting them, and transforming them.
The approach originated in France in the early 1970s. Its singularly dedicated proponent Tristan Murail (born 1947, Le Havre) describes spectral music as an aesthetic rather than a style, not so much a set of techniques as an attitude -- that 'music is ultimately sound evolving in time'.
Hints can be found at the turn of the nineteenth century; consider traces in Hermann von Helmholtz's On the Sensations of Tone as a Physiological Basis for the Theory of Music. In 1907 Busoni published Entwurf einer neuen Ästhetik der Tonkunst (later translated as 'Sketch of a New Esthetic of Music') with references to microtonal music. Similarities occur in Henry Cowell's New Musical Resources (1930), establishing a relation between acoustics, perception and composition.
Educated at Balliol College, Oxford, Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844-89), poet, Roman Catholic convert, Jesuit priest and professor of Classics, is represented in settings by Peter Bruun, ie The Sea and the Skylark and The Caged Skylark (1918).
Listen -- Peter Bruun: The Sea and the Skylark (Two scenes with Skylark)
(track 12, 3:38-4:46) © 2011 OUR Recordings:
Manley Hopkins achieved posthumous twentieth-century fame establishing him among the leading, traditional Victorian poets. His experiments in prosody (Notably sprung rhythm) and a kaleidoscopic use of imagery distinguished him as a daring innovator in an era of largely regular verse.
OUR Records has captured this winning release with striking fidelity, and recorders with the vocal ensemble are a rarity, realized here with consummate artistry. This is pure magic seemingly bathed in the glow of an aurora borealis. Unmatched recorder; deliquescent choruses. Don't miss it.
Copyright © 14 February 2012 Howard Smith,

Daily Classical Music

Michala Petri, recorder
The Danish National Vocal Ensemble
The Nightingale
Great review in German magazine on The Nightingale
21 February 2012
Christian Vitalis, 23.01.2012

Werke von Praulins, Börtz, Rasmussen u.a.: Die Nachtigall
Label: Our Recordings

Interpretation: 4 stars
Klangqualität: 5 stars
Repertoirewert: 4 stars
Booklet: 4 stars       

Die dänische Blockflötistin Michala Petri ist nicht nur eine technisch versierte Interpretin, sondern – und das unterscheidet sie von so manchem Virtuosen – stets neugierig und bereit, unbekannte Wege zu beschreiten und Neues zu entdecken. Bisweilen wirkt sie überhaupt erst anregend. Davon gibt die aktuelle Platte, die wieder beim Label OUR Recordings als klangtechnisch perfekt gestaltete SACD erschienen ist, beredtes Zeugnis ab, denn gäbe es Michala Petri nicht, gäbe es nicht nur diese Aufnahme nicht, sondern wohl auch nicht die eingespielten Werke. ‚Normal' ist hier nichts; allein die Besetzung kündet von Außergewöhnlichem: Blockflöte und Vokalensemble. Dass viele Blasinstrumente, insbesondere aber die Blockflöte, der menschlichen Stimme nahe stehen, ist bekannt. Unproblematisch ist die Kombination jedoch nicht, und meist wird das Instrument zum bloßen Beiwerk degradiert. Von diesen Schwierigkeiten zeugen auch die vier zeitgenössischen Kompositionen, die es hier zu entdecken gilt.
Vom Einzelwerk zum Projekt
Den Ausgangspunkt für das ganze Projekt bildet Daniel Börtz (geb. 1939) mit 'Nemesis divina', das 2006 komponiert und ein Jahr später mit Michala Petri uraufgeführt wurde. Der schwedische Komponist hat in seinem Werk Teile aus dem gleichnamigen Text des Naturforschers Carl von Linné vertont, der um theologische Fragen kreist. Die ungewöhnliche Besetzung regte nun zu weiteren Kompositionen verschiedenen Zuschnitts an. Der Lette Ugis Praulins (geb. 1957) hat 2010 eine neunteilige Vertonung von Hans Christian Andersens Märchen von der Nachtigall, das bereits Igor Strawinsky in Musik gebracht hat, vorgelegt. Von Sunleif Rasmussen (geb. 1961), einem Komponisten von den Fär-Inseln, stammt das 2011 komponierte 'I' auf schwierige, philosophisch durchdrungene Verse von Inger Christensen, deren Zahlenspiele Ausgangspunkt des kompositorischen Materials wurden. Es erleichtert das Verständnis nicht, dass die Verse Christensens selbst ein Reflex auf ‚Eine Amsel dreizehnmal gesehen' von Wallace Stevens darstellen. Ebenfalls 2011 schrieb der dänische Komponist Peter Bruun seine '2 scenes with skylark' auf Gedichte von Gerard Manley Hopkins. Es sind also Texte verschiedensten Inhalts und Stils, die als Ausgangspunkt zur Komposition dienten. Es fällt jedoch auf, dass in drei von vier Fällen ein Vogel eine wesentliche Rolle spielt; das ist sicher kein Zufall, bietet sich die Blockflöte doch perfekt an, die Vogelstimmen zu imitieren, von denen im Text die Rede ist. Da sind wir bei der eingangs erwähnten Problematik, denn in allen vier Stücken spielt die Blockflöte eine untergeordnete Rolle. Gesungen werden alle Texte übrigens in englisch, und auch das großzügig gestaltete und reich bebilderte Booklet bietet lediglich englischsprachige Einführungstexte.
Musikalisches Märchen
Dass vier verschiedene Komponisten zu vier verschiedenen Themen eine je eigene Musik schreiben, liegt auf der Hand. Hauptwerk der Platte ist Praulins 'Nachtigall' mit ca. 25 Minuten Dauer. Das Stück hat eine in dieser zwingenden Form unerwartet unmittelbare Wirkung und ist der beste Beweis für das Potenzial, das in dieser Besetzung liegt. Der Komponist verlangt insbesondere dem Chor einiges ab; das Stück lebt vom blitzschnellen Wechsel verschiedener Stimmungen und Stile, um dennoch einen ungemein geschlossenen und ‚stimmigen' Eindruck zu hinterlassen. Das mit hervorragenden Stimmen ausgestattete Danish National Vocal Ensemble meistert diese Partitur unter der Leitung von Stephen Layton mit Bravour. Während Andersens Märchen im Fernen Osten spielt, gibt es im vertonten Text keine Hinweise auf Nationalitäten, und in der Musik fehlt zum Glück das für Komponisten früherer Generationen zweifelsohne unvermeidliche Lokalkolorit. Praulins fängt die märchenhafte Atmosphäre auf ‚universell' klingende Weise perfekt ein: die Stimmung des ‚es war einmal' wird durch Versatzstücke wie z. B. Kadenzformeln alter Vokalpolyphonie evoziert. Die Tonsprache der anderen Werke ist dem jeweils schwierigeren Sujet angemessen; diese Werke entfalten zwar keine so unmittelbare Wirkung, sind gegebenenfalls aber – im Detail betrachtet und analysiert – substanzieller.
Hervorragende Leistung aller Beteiligten
Die Leistung des dänischen Vokalensembles wurde bereits gewürdigt. Es verdient Anerkennung, in welch treffender Weise dieser Chor zwischen verschiedenen Stimmungen und Gesangstechniken changieren kann, wie unmittelbar sich der Klang vom homogenen Chorklang wandeln kann zu einem aufgefächerten Panorama, in dem jede Einzelstimme klar vernehmbar ist. Michala Petri, der – wie bereits angedeutet – unterm Strich weniger Aufgaben zufallen, als man von einem reinen Soloprogramm erwarten würde, meistert selbige mit der von ihr bekannten Bravour. Vieles in dieser Musik entfaltet angesichts der süß-traurigen, wunderschön gesungenen Vogelstimmen erst seine volle Wirkung.

Michala Petri and Lars Hannibal
Virtuoso Baroque
Great review in International Record Review on Virtuoso Baroque
International Record Review
21 February 2012
This nis a most beautifuly recorded and presented SACD.It contains a selection of largely very familar Baroque masterpieces, but heard in unusual transcriptions for recorder and archlute.The performers are the celebrated recorder virtuoso Michala Petri and lutenist Lars Hannibal and, as the bookelt notes explain, with this release they celebrate two decades of collarboration as a duo.
These artist are unquestionably masterful throughout but for all the excellence of their playing, the appeal for this disc seems to be fairly limited. The principle drawback with this issue might seem to be pretty self-ecident. Thst is the somewhat limited idiomatic range and expression potential of the recorder itself, a particular concern given that so much of the music recorded here was originally devised for other instruments, including the violin.
Vitalis labyrinthine Chaconne in G minor for example, is best known as a virtuoso showpiece for the violin, and excist in countless recordings with both piano and orchestral accompaniment. Petri and Hannibal certainly give a pritty astonishing reading of the piece. Petri's virtuosity in particular is often incredible. Another violin stable. the "Devil's Trills Sonata by Tartini, arguable works rather better in the version here, because the registral requirements and expressive range of the music are by no means so extreme; in an case, the work falls into three distinctive sections, the last of which leads into a break to a brisk final Allegro. Though spirited and polished in every way, this performance nevertheless lacks the required Faustian resolve that the piece ideally needs, and if you are familar with it in its customary farm, you'll find this seriously wanting in weight and rhetoric.
Of this remaining works here, sonatas by Telemann, bach, Vivaldi and Händel seems better suited for this partnership, whose playing is adroit and sophisticated. Interestingly, though, Corelli's 24 variations oan atheme, known as "La Folia", No 12 from his hugely influential set of Op.6 Violin Sonatas, another cornerstone of the violin repertoiry, is heard here in a version for recorder and keyboard accompaniment made by the English publisher John Walsh in 1702, indicating Corellis's groundbreaking violinworks had already morphed into other instrumental genres quite early on in their history. Here, as is the case throughout this release, Petri's recorder playing is stunning. There are useful insert notes from Joshua Cheek, too. For all that, it's still hard to know quite which sector of the market this is intended for. Michael Jameson
International Record Review

Michala Petri, recorder
The Danish National Vocal Ensemble
The Nightingale
Wright Music on The Nightingale
Wright Music Magazine
21 February 2012
MICHALA PETRI, recorders, Danish National Vocal Ensemble, Stephen Layton. Our Recordings 6.220605

Distribution by NG Naxos Global Logistics  (59.22)

UGIS PRAULINS The Nightingale
DANIEL BORTZ  Nemesis divina
PETER BRUUN Two scenes with skylark

This is a very interesting CD.Let us first introduce the composers.

Ugis Praulins was born in Latvia on 17 June 1957 and studied with Paul Dambas and Gederts Ramans from 1963 - 1974. He then studied at the Academy of Music in Riga. He has been a sound engineer, and, as a keyboardplayer , been a rock musician in the group Salve in the 1970s and  in a progressive folk- rock band called Vecas Majas in the 1980s. His orchestral works include a Festive Prelude and a Concertino for piano and strings. There are choral and vocal works, some of which use instruments associated with pop groups.

Daniel Bortz is the most gifted composer on this CD who writes in traditional forms . He was born in Osby , Sweden in 1943 and studied violin with  Jean Fernstrom and composition with the great Hilding Rosenberg and then with Karl-Birger Blomdahl, Ingvar Lidholm and electronic music with Michael Koenig. Bortz has written four operas, an oratorio and concertos for trumpet, violin, clarinet, piano and recorder respectively.

Why is it that most contemporary composers avoid symphonies and concertos and have fanciful titles for their works?

Sunleif Rasmussen  was born in the Faroe Islands on 19 March 1961. He studied in Norway and then became a music teacher and a jazz pianist in the Faroe Islands. He then studied at the Royal Danish Academy under Ib Norholm. Rasmussen became interested  in spectral music and composers such as Tristan Murail. His biggest work to date is his Symphony no. 1 Oceanic Days. There are choral and vocal works with orchestra , a String Quartet and other chamber works, a saxophone concerto and other works.

Peter Bruun comes from Aarhus is Denmark being born in 1968. He studied philosophy at Aarhus University before he took up composition. Some of his works are concerned with water, the orchestral pieces Moon Water and The Same Fountain. There is also Letters to the Ocean for large ensemble. Other works advocate world peace. There is a fine Concerto grosso. His work Miki Alone for mezzo and orchestra , which lasts about 55 minutes, won  a prestigious award.

As to the performers, Stephen Layton is very well known as a fine choral conductor. Michaela Petri was born in Copenhagen on 7 July 1958 and won the Danish Young Musician of the Year in 1968. She introduced us to the recorder as a serious instrument whereas most people  regard it as an easy instrument played by primary school children.  She has premiered works by Arnold, Jacob, Bortz, Koppel, Holmboe, Michael Berkeley, Bentzon  and others.She is a first class player.

Her contribution to this CD is in a secondary capacity. There are no concertos, for example, or works involving her as a soloist.
Praulins'sThe Nightingale is taken from Hans Christian Andersons' text and is in four sections. It is a curious work involving many styles from folk music to hints of Renaissance music. The vocal ensemble are first class and the soloists are admirable. The work last about half an hour.

There is a magical start which is eerie, effective with  a tremendous crescendo. The high recorder represents the nightingale with its fluttering wings and , later, its song. Some of the text, in English, is spoken and throughout the piece, the music is inconsistent. There are some very fine moments but not always. Often the music is static. The third section with the repeated What's That is impressive. The soprano glissandi are out of place. This is a fairy tale and the music lacks childhood innocence. Section 5, There She Is contains some of the best music as does section 6, At The Palace.. Section 7, The Artificial Bird is the most 'modern', but the many styles in this work can be worrying. One passages owes to Tallis 's Spem in alium , but sometimes the vocal writing has too many layers and the work outstays its welcome although the singing is second to none and there is some thrilling recorder playing.

Bortz's Nemesis Divina works better. It has a mysterious opening but, as it develops it is impassioned and coherent. the vocal writing is superb with much variety. The style is consistent and the writing for voices is exceptionally good. Even in the strange whispers there is a profound poignancy. perhaps it is a little too long to maintain the material.

Rasmussen's work starts with a somewhat Arabic prelude on a recorder. I did not find anything outstanding in this piece but the Paul Bruun works is the most accessible and is often lovely.

To listen to this CD in one go is not recommended. Most of the music is slow and , occasionally, ponderous.

But it is a fascinating an important CD and I add a few more comments

The Praulin work is supposed to be a fairy tale but the music is very grown up.

The Bortz is the more unified work to a text by Carl von Linne which seems to pose doubts in God.

The question is What is God

Who sees, hears, knows

I don't see God

No wonder I don't see God

When I do not see the ego living in me.

What is life ?

Our God lights us and every soul with fire.

Rasmussen's "I" seems to be a meditation on human life based on Inger Christensens modern text and as a  consideration of Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird.

Two Scenes with Skylarks by Paul Bruun has a text by Gerald Manley Hopkins and his typical complex mysticism.
It is a CD that deserves hearing and invites you to make your own assessment. First hearings may not prove to be valid.

COPYRIGHT David C F Wright DMus 2011.

Wright Music Magazine

Michala Petri, recorder
The Danish National Vocal Ensemble
The Nightingale
American magazine on The Nightingale
21 February 2012
by James Manheim
Veteran Danish recorder virtuosa Michala Petri gets top billing here, but the Danish National Vocal Ensemble, under the direction of British conductor Stephen Layton, deserves at least equal billing. The main attraction is The Nightingale by Latvian composer Ugis Praulins, a work related to Pärt's minimalist style but with a more expansive and varied treatment of the choir. It's called upon to produce a variety of odd effects, dissolve in conversation, and execute smooth notes at extremes of range. Petri's recorder plays a variety of roles, introducing a medieval tinge but also a cool, almost electronic-flavored sound, and also embodying the Nightingale of the text: the one from Hans Christian Andersen's texts that have been so often set. It's a pleasing, slightly haunting work. The other three composers, Daniel Börtz, Sunleif Rasmussen, and Peter Bruun, are from Sweden, the Faroe Islands (an amazingly fertile place musically, all things considered), and Denmark; they are more systematically structured than the Praulins work. The combination of recorder and choir is unique, and the concept, a collaboration between Petri and U.S. producer Joshua Cheek (who wrote the informative booklet notes), merits praise for sheer originality. But the best audience for this release might lie among those who enjoy the British choral sound and are looking for something connected but completely different
  OUR Recordings
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2200 Copenhagen N
Tel: +45 4015 05 77




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