In its own way, it explores the various possibilities of the recorder in each of the three movements – each titled as clearly as Steven Stucky’s music itself: Scales, Glides and Arpeggios.
Études was premiered at the Tivoli Concert Hall in Copenhagen on June 17th 2000, with Giordano Bellincampi conducting the Copenhagen Philharmonic, during a concert celebrating Michala Petri’s award of the Lèonie Sonning Music Prize. On January 29th 2002, Etudes had its U.S. premiere in Los Angeles, performed by the Los Angeles Philharmonic New Music Group, conducted by Steven Stucky.
Pipes and Bells, by Swedish composer Daniel Börtz, was commissioned for Michala and the Danish National Symphony Orchestra. The world premiere took place on September 26th 2005, under chief conductor Thomas Dausgaard, in the Danish Radio Concert Hall during the orchestra’s 70th anniversary celebration.
The piece – as in other concertos by Börtz – is in one long movement ”in order not to disturb the symphonic story”; it is a dialogue between the soloist, symbol of the human individual voice, and the orchestra. In his beautifully expressive work Börtz responded to Michala’s wish to explore new and stronger dynamics, recently made possible thanks to some newly acquired instruments: he wrote dramatic dynamic changes and quick passages for the large and usually soft tenor recorder; conversely, the small, normally penetrating and aggressive sopranino is asked to produce soft, long-held tones.
This approach affected not only the contrast between the two instruments, but also the extreme dynamics between the soloist and the orchestra, through a mixture of soft, delicate and angelic passages and loud, almost diabolical passages.