German & French Recorder Concertos released worldwide today.
May 13, 2016
The 4th installment in Michala Petri`s un-going series with contemporary recorder concertos from different countries "German & French Recorder Concertos" just released today worldwide. The CD include 3 worldpremieres by Markus Zahnhausen, Fabrice Bollon and Günther Kochan.
It has been interesting to see that much has been written recently about a perceived lack of concerto repertoire for, specifically, recorder(s) and symphony orchestra. A cursory glance at the recording output of, say, Dan Laurin, John Turner, Jeremias Schwarzer and in particular Michala Petri, suggests that there is a substantial body of works ready to challenge talented youngsters and seasoned professionals alike. Michala Petri has been working through recording a series of concerto CDs, and this CD of German and French recorder concerti is a remarkable example of both her consummate technical and musical mastery of the recorder, but also of the artistry of the composers, their original musical ideas and brilliant scoring of said ideas.
The CD opens with ‘Recordare’, a new concerto by Markus Zahnhausen. From the arresting and imposing opening, one’s attention is immediately captured by the sparse but tense musical material. Zahnhausen uses percussion and winds with a clarity of scoring and orchestration that may remind one of the 14th and 15th symphonies of Shostakovich, or the restrained textures of late Benjamin Britten, however the similarity is fleeting – Zahnhausen very much has his own voice, and this concerto in my mind breaks new ground stylistically for the combination of recorders and orchestra. There is a depth of musical thought and intention which requires considerable concentration on
the part of the listener and indeed, the performers. In a live concert performance, this work could have an even more profound impact upon the listener.
‘Your Voice Out of the Lamb’ creates a stark but excellent contrast. This work uses some delay on the solo part, which is highly effective and is an example of electronics enhancing the musical discourse, rather than simply being an ‘effect’. Two shorter outer movements frame two longer movements which are the ‘heart’ of the work, to my ears. Again, some wonderful colours are created with combined recorder, reverb/delay, vibraphone, harp, solo violin and chamber strings in the third movement, ‘slow’. A virtuosic finale closes the concerto, again using what sounds like an electric piano and a ring modulator on the recorder part, all towards a very rhythmic and exciting musical result.
The final work on the disc is that of Günther Kochan. A composer from the former East Germany, he was highly considered within the Eastern Bloc, however, for so many East German artists, Reunification presented challenges and problems for sustaining careers. Nevertheless, here we have a work for recorder, chamber strings and percussion, that, like the Zahnhausen and Bollon concerti, provides a deeply musical vehicle for the opposition of recorder and orchestra. At once both virtuosic and profound music, it closes the CD with a brilliance of colour and texture.
Congratulations must be paid to the conductor and orchestra who accompany and lead with wonderful sensitivity and awareness. The recorder playing of Michala Petri is technically flawless and even more importantly, bursting with colour, variety and energy in a way that has certainly inspired me. This disc is exciting for so many reasons, however the principal point for me is that we have three first rate musical concerti for recorder, performed by a virtuosa who digs deep into the rich musical ideas presented.
Questions of comparison with other instruments are now irrelevant, and this disc proves beyond any doubt that there are concerti that exist for recorder that truly display the potential of the instrument, but most importantly, with music of the very highest compositional quality.