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Michala Petri, recorder
Lapland Chamber Orchestra
Nordic Sound
Tribute to Axel Borup-Jørgensen
Heinz Braun, Klassik Heute
26 August 2015
The works of this CD were all premiered in November 2014 as part of a concert given at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Humlebæk, north of Copenhagen, in honor of the great Danish composer Axel Borup-Jørgensen, who died in 2012. Besides Borup-Jørgensen's own, early string orchestra work Sommasvit (1957), five premieres of works specially commissioned for this concert (and recorded on this CD) by former friends and musical colleagues. This recording reflects a special quality of Scandinavian contemporary music, in my opnion: namely, its refreshingly un-ideological stylistic individuality and the courage to provide stand-alone musical solutions to the challenges of contemporary music.

In Whispering for recorder and string orchestra, Bent Sørensen succeeds in creating a delicate and atmospheric work of sometimes captivating beauty. No less convincing and consistent is Pelle Gudmundsen-Holmgreen Music for 13 strings. In this piece, his compelling and uncompromising musical language most closely recalls Borup-Jørgensen himself, in particular the repeated use of the tritone interval, unreal glissandos and tremolos punctuate the excited unison passages. Sunleif Rasmussen Winter Echoes for recorder and 13 solo strings is particularly memorable, especially in the meandering, ceaselessly propulsive Toccata episodes. Mogens Christensen has been very familiar with the recorder for many  years and here, in his brilliantly colorful-chirping Nordic Summer Scherzo, he brings his material back to Borup-Jørgensen. It may be surprising to see the composer and famous Danish jazz pianist Thomas Clausen on this CD, represented by his neoclassically-inspired, Concertino. Very much in the tradition of Holmboe, Clausen‘s Concertino is a beautiful, playful work sure to win many friends with its touching, "singing" Largo (convinced with unmistakable echoes of Bach's Air) and the bubbling, virtuoso finale. A marvelous work concludes the CD: Borup-Jørgensen‘s Sommasvit (Sommen-Suite), Op 24 for string orchestra, written when the composer was 33-years-old in remembrance of his stays on Swedish the island of the same name in the  Småland region. In five concise movements that describe the progresses from morning to evening, the composer achieves a fascinating multi-layered sound panorama that ranges from delicate, subtle subdivisions on darkly elegiac passages to troubled dramatic churnings, finally fading away in a melancholy epilogue.

One can hardly imagine more competent and more committed performers for this music than soloist Michala Petri and the fabulous strings of Lapland Chamber Orchestra under the confident, colorful and illuminating guidance of Clemens Schuldt. Also the engineering, artwork and editorial quality of the booklet are on the highest level. A homage very much worth hearing, that impresses  with the sheer quality of the music, stylistic diversity and integrity of the design.

Rating: 10 / 10 / 10
Heinz Braun, Klassik Heute

Michala Petri, recorder
Lapland Chamber Orchestra
Nordic Sound
Tribute to Axel Borup-Jørgensen
4 Stars review
Kate Wakeling, August 2015, BBC Music Magazine
15 August 2015
BBC Music Magazine (UK)
Works by Sørensen, Gudmundsen-Holmgreen, Clausen, Rasmussen, Christensen & Borup-Jørgensen. Michala Petri (recorder): Lapland Chamber Orchestra/Clemens Schuldt.
While the mainstay of the recorder`s repertoire sits within the medieval-Baroque periods, recent years have seen a growing body of new music composed for that instrument, recognizing and celebrating its distinct timbre and ready agility. These 3 well- recorded discs, all af Scandinavian origin, mark the recorder`s continuing appeal, offering complex and challenging new compositions alongside more broadly accessible works.
Nordic Sound presents five world premieres for recorder and string orchestra alone, with the outstanding recorder virtuoso Michala Petri as soloist. The work were each commissioned in tribute to Danish composer Axel Borup-Jørgensen (1924-2012), whose own transfixing Sommasvit (1957) for string orchestra closes the disc. Standout pieces include Sunleif Rasmussen`s Winter Echoes, which unleashes ferocious trills and flutters from the recorder in a pleasing subversion of the instrument`s dulcet reputation, and Bent Sørensen`s Whispering for recorder and strings, its title said to be inspired by Axel`s soft and fragile way of speaking` and which forms a delicate and moving tribute. Kate Wakeling, August 2015, Performance 4 stars- recording 4 stars.
Kate Wakeling, August 2015, BBC Music Magazine

Michala Petri, recorder
Lapland Chamber Orchestra
Nordic Sound
Tribute to Axel Borup-Jørgensen
Compelling Program, enhanced by Fine Musicianship, captured in Excitingly Realistic Sound
Phillip Scott, Fanfare Magazine
15 August 2015
Under the collective title "Nordic Sound", this celebratory compilation is dominated by the adventurous Danish recorder virtuoso Michala Petri. The first five works premiered in 2014, and were written for a memorial concert to the final composer on the program, Axel Borup-Jørgensen (1924-2012). He had been a close friend to Petri and her family, and was also well known to each of the other composers. Following the concert in October 2014, the musicians made this studio recording. The tribute pieces all employ a small string orchestra, with four featuring Petri as soloist. (Larger concertos for recorder and full orchestra by Sunlief Rasmussen and Pelle Gundmundsen-Holmgreen may be found on another new release from Petri on this label.) Although it sometimes happens that multiple tribute commissions produce hastily conceived "occasional music" or obvious imitation, that is not the case here. Each of these works boasts a musical voice with a strong, individual profile.

Borup-Jørgensen's five-movement work for string orchestra (Sommasvit, Op. 24) was composed in 1957. His musical style is aptly defined in Joshua Cheek's notes as "a finely-wrought, nature-inspired modernism". The title Sommasvit refers not to the season of summer (as I first presumed), but to an area of Sweden called Sommen: an archipelago containing several lakes and forest areas. The work depicts the course of a day in Sommen­­––its movements are titled Morning, Midday, Afternoon, Night and Epilog­­––but this is no idealized pastoral vision. Borup-Jørgensen's evocative writing for his chamber string forces creates a colder, more austere picture. At just over 11 minutes, the Sommasvit proves to be a succinct and powerful piece of music.

Something of this toughness appears in four of the tribute works, notably in their harmonies, although the composers' individual aims are quite different. Whispering by Bent Sørensen (b. 1958) is an elusive, ghostly sound-picture, making a feature of the recorder's note-bending technique. Gudmundsen-Holmgreen's Music for 13 Strings is perhaps closest to Borup-Jørgensen in its rigor and rugged dissonance. The Faroese composer Rasmussen's Winter Echoes virtually bubbles with activity, depicting the ferocity of Nordic winter, and allows Petri's remarkable technical facility free reign. Nordic Summer Scherzo by Mogens Christensen is similar in its nature painting, although slightly warmer. Here, the composer's use of the high-pitched descant recorder allows for the effective imitation of birdcalls, while his string writing is notable for pizzicato effects and the use of extreme high and low registers. The recorder's closing high note has to be heard to be believed. (This is my favorite among these short but arresting works.) Finally, the Recorder Concerto by Thomas Clausen (b. 1949) takes us out of the woods and into a neoclassical musical world. In four short movements, it is melodic and tonal, providing a pleasant and bracing interlude amongst the nature pieces.

This compelling program is enhanced by the fine musicianship of the soloist (which is a given), and the strings of the Lapland Chamber Orchestra under Schuldt. Their detailed, sensitive playing, honed in concert beforehand, is captured in excitingly realistic sound.
Phillip Scott, Fanfare Magazine

Michala Petri, recorder
Lapland Chamber Orchestra
Nordic Sound
Tribute to Axel Borup-Jørgensen
Very Fine Performance
Ronald E. Grames, Fanfare Magazine
15 August 2015
Though it is generally held that the essentially autodidactic Axel Borup-Jørgensen did not establish a school of composition, he was, as his country's leading modernist composer, a central figure in the musical life of Denmark. His death in 2012 at the age of 87 has affected the circle of modernist composers in Denmark in much the way that the death of a parent affects a family. As Michala Petri reminisces in an associated interview, he was a frequent presence at concerts of others' works, and a benevolent if highly demanding guide to the performance of his own pieces. There is a Ravel-like preoccupation with detail and polish in the composer's music, whether larger-scale works like his orchestral masterpiece, Marin—its name an apt reminder of another early French influence—or the many smaller chamber and solo works. He was a perfectionist, always seeking the best way to what he needed to say. He was a pioneer who sampled what others had to offer—from the Nordic romanticists and Impressionism to German Expressionism to the Darmstadt experience—and then found his own paths from among the gathered possibilities. In the end, it was as much poetry—especially, we are told, the writings of avant-garde Finnish/Swedish poet Gunnar Björling—and the majesty and silences of Swedish nature, remembered from his youth, that informed his composition.

This tribute disc is documentation of what the notes describe as a Gedenkschrift, or commemorative publication, conceived by his daughter Elisabet Selin and OUR Recordings producer and co-founder Lars Hannibal, under the auspices of Edition Borup-Jørgensen. It is a gathering of five compositions commissioned from colleagues and friends, each with a distinctive character, as well as Sommasvit, an early orchestral composition by the honoree.

To extend the metaphor of family, close friend Pelle Gudmundsen-Holmgreen, eight years the junior, now finds himself in the position of younger brother taking over the patriarchal role. In his Music for 13 Strings—For Axel "Boje"—Boje being a family nickname— Gudmundsen-Holmgreen incorporates some of the older composer's characteristic intervals and textures into an intensely dramatic work, at times mysterious, at others violent and unpredictable, occasionally lyric, but more often abrasive and angry with foot stomping and snarling tone clusters. It seems both tribute and declaration of independence.

Bent Sørensen, Sunleif Rasmussen, Mogens Christensen, and Thomas Clausen make up that next generation of Danish modernists. (Okay, Rasmussen is Faroese.) None are really young—Rasmussen at 54 is the youngest—and all approach their commission from differing perspectives born of many years of experience. Each includes a solo part for Michala Petri's recorder. Sørensen, whose early work in Danish folk music has been subsumed into a modernist aesthetic not unlike spectralism in its emphasis on timbre, chooses Borup-Jørgensen's partiality to silence as his inspiration, both for the title Whispering—the composer, late in life, tended to speak very softly—and for the primary characteristic of his own composition.

Sunleif Rasmussen has also been influenced by spectralism, and Tristan Murail in particular, though it is not clear that spectralist techniques are used in this work. Written in three continuous parts, each exploring a different part of the audio spectrum, from bass to high treble, it requires the soloist to move from the bass to sopranino recorders in a gradual ascent of the scale. In the end, the highest-pitched recorder is left to speak almost alone; the effect is of a hard-won escape from chaos, or to take a clue from the title, from a particularly fierce snowstorm.

Mogens Christensen has written a series of recorder pieces recreating his impressions of birdsong, one of which is Birds of a Midsummer Night. He revisits that concept in Nordic Summer Scherzo, in remembrance of Borup-Jørgensen's fondness for Swedish culture and for the Swedish midnight sun. The recorder soloist and strings evoke birdsong and summer winds, the result having a gritty naturalism that is most appealing even if the language is decidedly modern.

Most accessible of the homages is jazz-composer Thomas Clausen's four-movement neo-Baroque Concertino for Recorder and Strings. Petri is at pains, in our interview, to state that this is not pastiche. It is not, or at least no more so than Grieg's Holberg Suite or Stravinsky's similar enterprises in modernizing Baroque forms. Despite some decidedly contemporary harmony and progressions, it retains much of the charm of its older models.

Throughout, soloist Michala Petri is called upon to accomplish amazing acts of virtuosity, both extraordinarily demanding passage work and extended techniques such as overblowing, multiphonics (including Petri's now signature skill at playing and singing of different pitches simultaneously) and flutter tonguing. Christensen has her doing them all in bewildering rapidity. The Lapland Chamber Orchestra is a crack ensemble, and it and conductor Clemens Schuldt respond to the music's many challenges impressively.

I must conclude, however, by saying that as interesting and entertaining as I found these tributes to the lost paterfamilias, none of the pieces, with the possible exception of Pelle Gudmundsen-Holmgreen's Music for 13 Strings, impressed me as much as the master's own work, Sommasvit. A poignant evocation of a scenic Swedish forested lake from the composer's boyhood, this wonderful bit of "nature mysticism" is saved for last on the disc. Leif Segerstam recorded it for Dacapo twenty years ago (now available only as a download) with breathtaking control of pacing, color, and balance. Schuldt is not quite that amazing, but this very fine performance is definitely the highlight of the disc.
Ronald E. Grames, Fanfare Magazine

Michala Petri, recorder
Henrik Vagn Christensen, conductor
Danish Faorese Recorder Concertos
Much recommended to those who don't like all of their musical experiences to be easy
Ronald E. Grames, Fanfare Magazine
August 2015
Danish recorder virtuoso Michala Petri recorded Thomas Koppel's Moonchild's Dream in 1992 for a 1995 RCA Victor release of contemporary music for recorder and orchestra. Okko Kamu, a too often overlooked artist, conducted. Some may be surprised that Petri, who is still most often associated with Baroque music, released a CD of contemporary works that long ago. In fact, she has been playing new music on the recorder almost as long as she has been playing the instrument. I own a BBC LP from 1977, recorded in 1974, on which, along with the expected works by Jacob Van Eyck and Telemann, is a recording by the then 16-year old virtuoso of Luciano Berio's Gesti, certainly one of the more avant-garde works for recorder at that time, and a remarkably difficult work to play. There were other works written for her, going back as far as when she was 12, which are discussed in our first interview in Fanfare 37:5. So, contemporary music has been a part of her repertoire from the start, and, as she discusses in the accompanying feature article, she has been building a repertoire of works of the present to keep herself challenged. What is very nice for us is that she now has more freedom to share her interest in new music since she is recording on her own (and lutenist and manager Lars Hannibal's) label.

The new recording of Moonchild's Dream results from Petri's belief that she hadn't found everything to say about the work in her earlier performances. The appealing score provides the soundtrack for a short film following the life and fantasies of a poor little girl in a war-ravaged Copenhagen. (Presumably, this soundtrack is the first of Petri's three recordings cited by Lars Hannibal in an interview with Martin Anderson in Fanfare 38:6.) This newer version, with slightly slower tempos, emphasizes the melancholy and longing a bit more than the 1992 reading, at, perhaps, the expense of some charm in the fantasy. To these ears, there is really little to choose between two fine performances, but this is the one currently in print, and the one preferred by the soloist, and it is beautifully recorded.

The other two pieces are new to the catalog. One, the whimsically named Chacun Son Son—a play on À chacun son gout—means loosely To each their own sound. Originally a serialist of the Darmstadt school, Pelle Gudmundsen-Holmgreen has long worked in a nominally tonal language stripped of what he calls "the superficial niceties." Inspired by Samuel Beckett's plays, and their contemplation of the meaninglessness of life, it might be pretty bleak stuff if it wasn't for his sense of humor. It is not really even a concerto—Gudmundsen-Holmgreen's further whimsy—but rather a piece with a prominent, but not dominant, role for the recorder: in fact the family of recorders from bass to sopranino, and back. It is still dark, a "long-breathed canon" in which each orchestral choir is given a highly differentiated role. There is labored anticipation, and jazzy restlessness, and eventual chaos, all commented upon by the various recorders, each played in turn by the soloist.

The final work is by Faroese composer Sunleif Rasmussen. An unconventional concerto, as well, in five continuous sections, Territorial Songs is inspired by nature and by birdsong, and one major purpose of such songs, the defining of territory: nature music of a sometimes aggressive bent. Most of the "niceties" are back, not quite as we are used to hearing them. The recorder is once more clearly the solo instrument. The work demands rhythmic accuracy, often in subtly shifting patterns. One thinks of fractals, though I do not know that there are actually such repetitions in patterns here. There are many moments of uncommon beauty: shimmering strings, icy cold, against which the recorder intones its cry, as well as other sonorities that are quite extraordinary. In the fourth movement, the soloist is asked to play in voiced multiphonics: subtle, delicate, and haunting. It is a masterful work by a composer from whom I hope to hear more.

Henrik Vagn Christensen conducts the very fine Aalborg Symphony Orchestra with what sounds to be clear relish for the idiom. He has previously recorded with Petri, in the very different New Age-ish Palle Mikkelborg Going to Pieces without Falling Apart (OUR Recordings) and in Anders Koppel's high-spirited and jazzy Concerto for Recorder, Saxophone, and Orchestra (Dacapo). (The later has to be heard, if only to marvel at Petri's unexpected jazz chops. It is gorgeous music, to boot.) Thomas Koppel, Anders's older brother, is not overtly jazzy here, but the piece is tonal and easily accessible. The other two works will make some listeners work a bit to come to terms with the challenging styles. In an interview available on YouTube, Pelle Gudmundsen-Holmgreen describes himself as an outsider, and that is unarguable. Sunleif Rasmussen is less radical, and there is much in his concerto that is quite unforgettable. Overall, these are works of real substance that fascinate and disquiet, much recommended to those who don't like all of their musical experiences to be easy.
Ronald E. Grames, Fanfare Magazine

Michala Petri, recorder
Henrik Vagn Christensen, conductor
Danish Faorese Recorder Concertos
An Intriguing Collection
Phillip Scott, Fanfare Magazine
July 2015
This intriguing collection is titled "Danish and Faroese Recorder Concertos". The three works were commissioned and are performed here by Danish recorder virtuoso Michala Petri, on a label set up by her ex-husband Lars Hannibal primarily designed to feature her work. Hannibal was interviewed by Martin Anderson in Fanfare 38:6, where he outlined the background to Our Recordings and touched on his relationship with Petri. It is recommended reading for anyone whose interest is piqued by this release.

Thomas Koppel (1944-2006) was the older brother of Anders, both sons of Herman––all composers. Thomas turned to serious composition after some years in a progressive jazz-rock band, and wrote this concerto for Petri in 1990-91 (the first of three). It is an evocative piece of urban night-music; Koppel's unerring use of orchestral strings, harp, vibraphone and tuned percussion give the music its otherworldly flavor. Petri's recorder floats through these textures (and mainstream 20th century harmonies) in a virtuoso display of pyrotechnics and lyricism. She has recorded the work twice before, according to Hannibal's interview, but was never completely happy with the results. I have one of those recordings at hand for comparison, a 1995 RCA/BMG release that couples Moonchild's Dream with concertos by Arnold, Holmboe, and others. There, Petri is accompanied by Okko Kamu conducting the English Chamber Orchestra. The work seems a little prosaic on the RCA recording, due I think to Kamu's fasters tempos and comparatively dull sound. The sound quality on this new CD is remarkably vivid, and the concerto gains considerably in atmosphere.

Pelle Gudmundsen-Holmgreen (b. 1932) is a Danish composer and teacher. One of his pupils was Poul Ruders, and you can hear the influence of the older composer in Ruders' work: both men delight equally in beautiful and ugly sounds, and both seem to share a peculiarly Nordic sense of humor that surreptitiously informs their music. Gudmundsen-Holmgreen's single-movement concerto features bass recorder in the opening and closing passages, and soprano recorder at the work's climax. The soloist is more integral to the texture than standing apart from it; in fact, a violin has a solo cadenza at one point and makes a significant contribution (strongly played here by Yana Deshkova). Growling low brass and percussive thumps punctuate the concerto's progress as the music gradually increases in complexity and volume. This is perhaps the hardest to love of these three pieces, but I have the sneaking feeling that its strength and focus will cause it to remain most firmly in the mind.

Territorial Songs is the most pastoral of the three, even though its orchestration is (again) vivid. Rasmussen (b. 1961) comes from the Faroe Islands, specifically, Sandoy, but even before I read that fact in Joshua Cheek's informative notes I felt an open-air quality to this music. Perhaps the most unusual of the piece's five movements is the fourth, tranquillo, where Petri is required to vocalize as she plays a gentle but wide-ranging melody. There is a great sense of isolation and timelessness at this point. Initially I thought Rasmussen was merely including the effect because Petri was capable of it, but with frequent hearings the contrast between this movement and the others impressed me as a necessary respite, and a strong contribution to the overall structure. The finale, leggiero, brings a sophisticated rethinking of folk music, and phenomenal technical virtuosity from the soloist is again a consistent factor.

Petri's outstanding musicianship is the main selling point of this release, but it is by no means the only one. The orchestra plays extremely well for Christensen, the sound is top notch, and the concertos are more than mere showcases: Each has something interesting and individual to say.
Phillip Scott, Fanfare Magazine

Michala Petri, recorder
Danish National Symphony Orchestra
5 out of 5 Stars for Movement in German
05 April 2015

Cover vergrößern  Ein Gemälde und drei Konzerte
Kritik von Christian Vitalis, 13.07.2008

Movements: Michala Petri plays Amargós, Börtz and Stucky
Label: Our Recordings



Ihren Ruf als reines Einsteigerinstrument wird die Blockflöte wohl so schnell nicht los werden, zahlreicher Bemühungen zum Trotz, das Instrument – etwa durch wirkungsvolle Bearbeitungen für Blockflötenensembles oder neue Konzerte – als vollwertiges Mitglied in der Familie der Blasinstrumente zu bestätigen. Vor einiger Zeit habe ich eine Blockflötenplatte besprochen, in deren Booklet der Solist Dan Laurin die allgemein verbreitete These aufgriff, die Blockflöte sei in ihrem Ausdruckspektrum eingeschränkt und käme gegen ein volles Orchester ohnehin nicht an – um sie dann in musikalischer Weise eindrucksvoll zu widerlegen. Das Studium des Texthefts der vorliegenden CD aus dem Hause Our Recordings mit der dänischen Ausnahme-Flötistin Michala Petri hat da ein leichtes Déjà-vu zur Folge: Hier jedoch ist es mit Michael Stucky einer der Komponisten, der offen zugibt, diesem Vorurteil aufgesessen gewesen zu sein und erst nach dem eindrucksvollen Erlebnis eines Konzertes mit Michala Petri umgestimmt wurde – dann aber war er ‚schnell bekehrt' und hat der bis dahin nicht für sinnvoll erachteten Komposition eines Blockflötenkonzerts sofort zugestimmt.

Klingender Gegenbeweis

Eben dieser Michael Stucky hat sein Konzert ‚Etudes' genannt – und die drei Sätze tragen dann auch etüdenhafte Titel: ‚Scales', ‚Glides' und ‚Arpeggios'. Das Orchester ist eher kammermusikalisch-solistisch besetzt; so ist es schließlich nicht die Solistin allein, die sich mit den geforderten Aufgaben (Tonleitern, Glissandi und gebrochenen Dreiklangsfiguren) herumschlagen muss, sondern sämtliche Instrumente werden in gleichen Maßen an diesem Spiel beteiligt. Es entsteht auf diese Weise eine gleichermaßen geistreiche wie allgemeinverständliche und unterhaltsam andere Art von Konzert, dessen Inhalt sich – in Ergänzung mit der harmonisch unproblematischen Tonsprache – auch denjenigen Musikhörern erschließen sollte, die nicht Mathematik und/oder Tonsatz studiert haben. Noch mehr ‚für das Ohr' sind die beiden anderen Konzerte geschrieben: Daniel Börtz liefert mit ‚Pipes and Bells' ein einsätziges Konzertstück, das den nachdenklichen Mittelteil des Programms bildet; die Farben sind gedeckt, die Musik ist von einer gewissen Stille und verbreitet ein Gefühl melancholischer Einsamkeit, wie es beispielsweise den Betrachter eines Sternenhimmels überkommen kann. Die Rufe der Blockflöte am Ende verhallen im Nichts. Packend und ‚süffig' ist dagegen das effektvolle ‚Northern Concerto' des Spaniers Joan Albert Amargós, das den größten Orchesterapparat aufbietet und sich teilweise der Unterhaltungsmusik annähert: hier darf die Blockflöte auch einmal etwas ‚Swing' verbreiten.


Alle drei Konzerte sind eigenständig und auf ihre Weise hochinteressant und schön. Michala Petri bestätigt ihren herausragenden Ruf – sie beherrscht die Blockflöte meisterlich und zeichnet sich nicht nur durch technische Brillanz und hochvirtuose Beweglichkeit aus, sondern fällt insbesondere durch ihren absolut runden und vom Anblasen bis zum Verhallen vollends beherrschten reinen Ton auf, bei dem es keinerlei Trübungen in Klangfarbe oder Intonation zu beanstanden gibt. Die diversen Stimmungslagen der drei Konzerte werden darüber hinaus sehr einfühlsam herausgearbeitet. Absolut überzeugend! Das vom Chinesen Lan Shui geleitete Danish National Symphony Orchestra ist hochmotiviert bei der Sache und bildet den idealen Begleiter. Ob transparente Klangtupfer wie in Stuckys ‚Etüden' oder fulminante Klangmassen wie in Amargós' Konzert, stets überzeugen die Orchestermusiker auf hohem Niveau, und stets bleibt das runde Klangbild aufnahmetechnisch perfekt ausgewogen in der Balance zwischen Solistin und Begleitung; insbesondere der Mehrkanal-Klang der SACD ist sehr gut gelungen und bietet ein hohes Maß an Plastizität. Darüber hinaus ist der Ton in allen Abspielmodi sehr natürlich; die Klangereignisse sind in allen Schichten gut durchhörbar. Das Textheft – das seine Beiträge in englischer wie spanischer Sprache präsentiert – ist nett aufgemacht und auch recht informativ; reizvoll ist der genreübergreifende Aufhänger, das Projekt über ein Gemälde zu erschließen; dieses Bild, das wohl nicht zufällig von einem dänischen Künstler stammt, ist dann auch auf dem Cover abgebildet ist und hat zudem den Titel der Produktion geliefert.

Michala Petri, recorder
Danish National Symphony Orchestra
Sequensa 21 on Movements
Sequenza 21
01 April 2015
Jan 27 2008

Movements: Michala Petri plays Amargos, Börtz, Stucky
Posted by Lanier Sammons in CD Review, Lanier Sammons

Michala Petri, recorder
Danish National Symphony Orchestra / DR
Lan Shui, conductor

OUR Recordings

Movements features three pieces that place perhaps the most humble of instruments, the recorder, in the least humble of settings, the concerto. While the idea of a recorder concerto probably conjures up images antithetical to new music, Michala Petri, the featured soloist on this disc, is out to dispel those associations. To that end, Petri commissioned three contemporary composers and gave us a disc that features compositions for her instrument all written within the 21st century.

The first of these is Joan Albert Amargí³s' Northern Concerto. Amargí³s' bio references jazz and flamenco traditions along with the classical, and melodic influences from those worlds pop up throughout the concerto. I can't say that the appearances of these influences always blend cohesively, but owing to the strength of the melodies, I didn't mind too much. It's an undeniably drinkable piece that takes some chances pitting the recorder against the full orchestra and largely succeeds. In fact, Petri's recording earned the piece a Grammy nomination (scroll down to category 107).

Daniel Bōrtz's one-movement concerto, Pipes and Bells, takes a completely different tack, focusing on the recorder's distinctive timbre. Particularly nice is his opening pairing of the recorder and the bass clarinet with some brass stabs thrown in for contrast. At various places in the work the titular bells ring, again offering spectral contrast with the simple profile of the recorder's pipe. Bōrtz also consistently gives the recorder plenty of space. The orchestra mostly provides a textural bath, occasionally churning itself into a crashing wave.

The final concerto is Steven Stucky's Etudes. Like most good works of that title, the piece avoids sounding like any sort study. The three movements promise scales, glides, and arpeggios respectively. Those techniques are certainly delivered, but unobtrusively and always musically. Indeed, it's here that the recorder sounds most at home with the rest of the orchestra.

With these three clever commissions, Petri offers a convincing argument that the recorder can achieve a place outside of its historical niche. Not once on the disc do Petri and her instrument sound out of place despite the new music context and the potency of the full orchestra. In fact, I'd imagine that these concertos would work quite well on any orchestra's program.

Sequenza 21

Michala Petri, recorder
Danish National Symphony Orchestra
Sequenza 21 on Movements
Sequenza 21
01 April 2015
OUR Recordings

Movements features three pieces that place perhaps the most humble of instruments, the recorder, in the least humble of settings, the concerto. While the idea of a recorder concerto probably conjures up images antithetical to new music, Michala Petri, the featured soloist on this disc, is out to dispel those associations. To that end, Petri commissioned three contemporary composers and gave us a disc that features compositions for her instrument all written within the 21st century.

The first of these is Joan Albert Amargós' Northern Concerto. Amargós' bio references jazz and flamenco traditions along with the classical, and melodic influences from those worlds pop up throughout the concerto. I can't say that the appearances of these influences always blend cohesively, but owing to the strength of the melodies, I didn't mind too much. It's an undeniably drinkable piece that takes some chances pitting the recorder against the full orchestra and largely succeeds. In fact, Petri's recording earned the piece a Grammy nomination (scroll down to category 107).

Daniel Börtz's one-movement concerto, Pipes and Bells, takes a completely different tack, focusing on the recorder's distinctive timbre. Particularly nice is his opening pairing of the recorder and the bass clarinet with some brass stabs thrown in for contrast. At various places in the work the titular bells ring, again offering spectral contrast with the simple profile of the recorder's pipe. Börtz also consistently gives the recorder plenty of space. The orchestra mostly provides a textural bath, occasionally churning itself into a crashing wave.

The final concerto is Steven Stucky's Etudes. Like most good works of that title, the piece avoids sounding like any sort study. The three movements promise scales, glides, and arpeggios respectively. Those techniques are certainly delivered, but unobtrusively and always musically. Indeed, it's here that the recorder sounds most at home with the rest of the orchestra.

With these three clever commissions, Petri offers a convincing argument that the recorder can achieve a place outside of its historical niche. Not once on the disc do Petri and her instrument sound out of place despite the new music context and the potency of the full orchestra. In fact, I'd imagine that these concertos would work quite well on any orchestra's program.

This entry was posted on Sunday, January 27th, 2008 at 6:54 pm and is filed under CD Review, Lanier Sammons. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.
Sequenza 21

Michala Petri, recorder
Mahan Esfahani, harpsichord
Corelli : La Follia
Great review in US Magazine Fanfare on Corelli!
Fanfare Magazine
26 March 2015
It seems as if Michala Petri has been performing at a high level for almost my entire adult life, and indeed she has. Now, at 56, she still sounds as fresh, imaginative, and accurate as she was when she was a young virtuoso first establishing the recorder with the general public as an instrument to be taken seriously.
Arcangelo Corelli's set of 12 sonatas for violin and continuo that comprises his opus 5 concludes with the famous "La Follia." The second half of that set, nos. 7–12, were transcribed for recorder by an anonymous assortment of composers in the 18th century. Corelli wrote and published his sonatas in 1700, and the undated manuscript used for this recording is titled: "Six solos for a flute and a bass by Archangelo [sic] Corelli, being the second part of his Fifth Opera, containing preludes, allmands, corrants, jigs, sarabands, gavotts with the Spanish folly. The whole exactly transpos'd and made fit for a flute and a bass with the approbation of several Eminent Masters."
It is that grouping that Petri and her harpsichordist (who also wrote very helpful notes) presents in this recording made in Garnisons Church in Copenhagen in May of 2014. The playing is as brilliant, infectious, and imaginative as we have come to expect from Petri. Her tone is sharply focused but always appealing, with a roundness surrounding its pointed center. She and Esfahani bring an extraordinarily lively rhythmic flair to this music, clearly reveling in its dance roots. Petri's virtuosity is always placed at the service of the music; no matter how complex the ornamentation, you never have the feeling that it is there for purely display purposes. The musical shape of each movement is always maintained.
Petri plays with wit throughout. One feels a smile in the gavottes, allemandes, and correntes, while the sarabandes retain their dignity and elegance. Her tone remains even from top to bottom, and her sense of phrasing is impeccable. The music is always going somewhere, it always has momentum and a sense of direction. Esfahani is a true partner in this effort, taking a lead role where the music calls for it (the opening of the Gavotte from op. 5/11, for instance), and applying the same degree of imagination to phrase-shaping and to ornamentation as Petri does.
While much praise deserves to go to Petri and Esfahani, their talents would be less important were this second- or third-rate music. But throughout one is caught up in Corelli's consistent level of inspiration and his musical imagination. Corelli lived a generation before Bach and Handel, and he influenced them as well as Vivaldi. In his day (1653–1713) he was famous throughout the world of music, both for his violin playing and his compositions (limited though they were to six opus numbers). This group of sonatas, even arranged by others for the recorder, is music of real imagination, music that rises well above the standard of its day with a vivid presence.
Natural recorded sound and a lovely booklet with not only excellent notes but lovely photos of the church where the recording was made round out this truly delightful production. Henry Fogel
This article originally appeared in Issue 38:4 (Mar/Apr 2015) of Fanfare Magazine.
Fanfare Magazine

Michala Petri, recorder
Mahan Esfahani, harpsichord
Corelli : La Follia
5 star review in German Magazine Ensemble on Corelli-La Follia
15 March 2015
Dass Arcengelo Corelli seine unter Opus 5 zusammengefassten 12 Sonaten für Violine und Begleitinstrument schreib, steht ausser frage, denn immerhin war der Komponist einer der besten Violinvirtuosen seiner Zeit. Doch die Blockflöte war auch schon im 17.Jahrhundert immerhin ein weit verbreitetes Instrument für das häusliche Musizieren. Und da Corellis Musik (und gerade diese Sonaten) schon früh eine immense grosse Verbreitung erführen, ist es zuvollziehen, dass sie auch mit Blockflöte interpretiert wurden. Hier nun habe sich die Grand Dame des Blockflötenspiels, Michala Petri, und der iranishe Cembalist Mahan Esfahai darangemacht, die letzen sechs Sonaten van Opus 5, die durchweg van Tanzrythmen beseelt sind, zu interpretieren. Und wenn man dem Spiel dieser Beiden Musiker lauscht, fragt man sich, ob der klang der Violine oder der Blockflöte nun besser zu diesen Sonaten passt, die sich vierbis fünfsätzig in Suitenform darstelln. Denn Michala Petri is nicht nuer eine bemerkenswerte Blokflötistin, sondern vermag auch die klangliche Ebene den musikalischen Aussagen anzupassen, indem sie auch unterschiediche Flöten benutzt. Sie will gar nicht - wie die meisten Geiger - die virtuose Ebene in den Vordergrund stelln, sondern folgt genauestens dem verlauf der Musik mit Emphase. Und Esfahani ist ein wunderbare Cembalist, der mit ebenso viel geschmack und Selbstbewusstsein seiner Partnerin folgt. Carsten Dürer, November 2014

Michala Petri, recorder
Mahan Esfahani, harpsichord
Corelli : La Follia
Supersonic Pizzicato review on Corelli-La Follia
Pizzicato Magazine
06 March 2015
Symbiotisch  20/02/2015 

Arcangelo Corelli: 6 Sonaten op. 5, Nr.7-12; Michala Petri, Blockflöte, Mahan Esfahani, Cembalo; 1 CD Our Recordings 6.220610; 5/14 (66'22) – Rezension von Remy Franck 

Arcangelo Corellis Violinsonaten sind auch ohne Violine ganz tolle Kompositionen. Zum Beispiel, wenn die Blockflöte die Rolle der Geige spielt. Michala Petri führt den Violingesang zurück in den Mund und singt bezaubernd auf ihrer Blockflöte, sie koloriert und verziert nach allen Regeln der Kunst und schöpft so die ganze Bandbreite ihres Instrumentes meisterhaft aus. Dass jedoch dieser expressive und wunderbar leuchtende Blockflötenklang richtig zur Geltung kommt, das ist auch der Verdienst des Cembalisten Mahan Esfahani. Beide Musiker gehen so in ihrem Darstellungsdrang auf, dass ihre Instrumente einen perfekt und symbiotisch ausbalancierten Klang erzielen, in dem alles passt. Grandios!

Danish recorder player Michala Petri and Iranian-born harpsichordist Mahan Esfahani collaborate in the most appealing way to let the listener experience the beauty of Corelli's sonatas. Petri's singing sound is marvelous, and together with Esfahani she takes full advantage of the work's opportunities for supple phrasing and added embellishments.
Pizzicato Magazine

Michala Petri, recorder
Carolin Widmann, violin
Mozart Flute Quartets
Nice review on Mozart in Pizzicato Music Magazine
Pizzicato Magazine
04 March 2015
RéF, Pizzicato. October 2008

4 out of 5 notes

Mozart schriebt zwar mit Begeisterung seine Oper "Die Zauberflöte", aber die Flöte mochte er ergentlich nicht. "Es gibt nichts so Unreines wie eine Flöte, von zwei Flöten ganz zu sweigen", pfleget er zu sagen. Aus seiner Feder gibt es dennoch mehrere Werke mit Soloflöte, so die vier Flötenquartette die für Querflöte geschrieben wurden und nicht für Blockflöte, so wie sie hier erklingen. Doch bei Michala Petris intonationssicherem, schlanken und flüssigen Blockflötenton wird die Diskussion, ob oder ob nicht, überflüssig. Sie Spielt die Blokflöte sehr virtuos und mit einer souveränen Technik, die ihr ein total natürliches Atmen und Phrasieren mit ihren Streicherkollegen erlaubt. Mozarts konzertante Quartette sprühen ja nur so vor galanter ubd graziöser Thematik, und Michala Petri wird dem vollauf gerecht. Das Streichtrio great mit diesem Klang nicht so sehr in in den hintergrung wie bei der modernen Querflöte, agiert partnerschaftlich mit und lässt die Quartette zu einem Kammermusikerlebnis warden.

Pizzicato Magazine

Michala Petri, recorder
Carolin Widmann, violin
Mozart Flute Quartets
Review in The Oxford Times from concetrs with Petri/Hannibal
The Oxford Times
04 March 2015
Michala Petri and Lars Hannibal: Holywell Music Room
5:04pm Wednesday 28th October 2009

By Simon Collings »

Michala Petri is one of the world's leading recorder virtuosos. She has done as much as anyone living to popularise the instrument, and revive and expand its repertoire. In 1992, she formed an artistic partnership with her husband, the guitarist Lars Hannibal. They have been delighting audiences around the world ever since with their masterly playing and the witty commentaries with which they spice their recitals. The long-neglected recorder has enjoyed a significant revival over the last 80 years with early music enthusiasts leading the way and contemporary composers writing for the instrument.

Friday's concert included an eclectic mixture of pieces, some composed for recorder and guitar, others transcriptions of works written for other instruments. Recorders of different size and type made their appearance during the evening.

A high point was a 2,000-year-old Chinese piece in which the recorder seems to lament for a lost love while the guitar provides consoling support. This was wonderfully communicative music, providing a vivid sense of connection with the distant past. An arrangement of three movements from Piazolla's Histoire du Tango was another highly successful piece. Tango, as Hannibal pointed out, was first performed on guitars and flutes. As compelling was a transcription of Lalo's Norwegian Fantasy, a genial and colourful work written for violin and orchestra.

Some of the other pieces in the programme were more lightweight, essentially vehicles for virtuoso display, including a set of variations on a Danish folksong composed by Petri herself. The range of effects she produces from the instrument is impressive.

The enthusiastic applause of a packed hall prompted two encores – the second a witty piece called the Wagtail and the Cuckoo from a suite by a contemporary Danish composer. Petri switched between two different-sized recorders, representing the two birds with comic effect – a perfect ending to an entertaining evening.

The Oxford Times

Michala Petri, recorder
Mahan Esfahani, harpsichord
Corelli : La Follia
10/10/10 review in Klassik Heute on Corelli-La Follia
Klassik Heute Magazine
01 March 2015
Selbstverständlich bleibt eine ganze Menge auf der Strecke, wenn man die Violinsonaten op. 5, das kammermusikalische Hauptwerk Arcangelo Corellis, von der Violine auf die Blockflöte überträgt, und den, der die Stücke kennt, wird sicher irritieren, wie oft die Melodie aufgrund des eingeschränkten Tonumfangs in die Gegenrichtung springen muss, und natürlich besonders die wunderschönen Doppelgriff-Passagen vermissen. So schön das alles ist, ist es doch nicht das Wesentliche am Corelli'schen Tonsatz, der auch dann in ungeminderter Charakteristik und Pracht zum Tragen kommt, wenn die Ausdrucksmittel auf jenes geradlinige Minimum fokussiert werden, welches die Blockflöte in höchster Konzentration und Reinheit verkörpert symbolisiert.
Wenn dies trotz aller Verluste eine der schönsten Corelli-Aufnahmen der Geschichte ist, so hauptsächlich dank der grandiosen Präsenz von Michala Petri, der weiterhin unangefochtenen Maestra assoluta der Blockflöte. Ihr Spiel wurde jahrelang von den Konkurrenten aus den diversen Alte-Musik-Lagern oft harsch kritisiert: zu kühl perfekt, zu wenig affektbetont, zu klinisch präzise… Nichts davon ist auch nur ansatzweise wahr. Petri lässt ihr Instrument einfach das sein, was es ist, und versucht nicht, mit extremen Tonschwellungen oder waberndem Vibrato ein behindertes Streichinstrument zu imitieren. Ihre Kunst liegt jedoch in der subtilen Verwendung der Ausdrucksmittel und in einer höchst ungewöhnlichen energetischen Konzentration, und ohnehin in einer technisch-tonlichen Makellosigkeit und Schönheit, die immer wieder staunen machen. Ihr Partner ist der exzellente iranische, in London unterrichtende Cembalist Mahan Esfahani, der hier den 1992er Nachbau (Alain Anselm) eines italienischen Instruments der Corelli-Zeit spielt und mit seiner Lebendigkeit, sowohl spontan zierreichen als auch unmissverständlich pulsierenden Artikulationsweise und intelligenten Brillianz weit mehr als ein wendiger und wacher Begeiter ist.
Schade finde ich hier lediglich, dass die langsamen Sätze allzu flüchtig und geschwinde genommen werden und so nicht der Zauber entfacht wird, der potenziell enthalten ist. Und kritisieren, wenn auch mit Einschränkung, muss ich allenfalls gelegentlich die Art der umspielenden Verzierungen, die Michala Petri zwar meist mit viel Geschmack und Einfallsreichtum anbringt, wo es mir jedoch immer wieder so geht, dass die noble, pure Melodik des unverzierten Corelli'schen Originals schlicht mehr Größe hat und Weite atmet. Hier wäre oft weniger viel mehr. Andererseits ist es jedes Mal interessant, bei Wiederholungen die umfangreichen Wandlungen zu verfolgen, die Petri dem melodischen Rankenwerk angedeihen lässt.
Der Klang in der Kopenhagener Garnisonskirken ist ausgezeichnet eingefangen, voll, rund und klar, wobei es nicht einfach ist, unter solch halligen Umständen einen durchweg funktionierenden Ausgleich zwischen Blockflöte und Cembalo herzustellen. Dazu gibt's einen kompetent informierenden Booklet-Text von Esfahani selbst.
Dies waren also nun die Sonaten Nr. 7-12 aus dem wundervollen Opus V von Corelli, und es steht zu hoffen, dass die ersten sechs Sonaten noch folgen werden. Die wenigen kritischen Einwände können nicht darüber hinweg täuschen, dass es sich hier um Musizieren höchsten Karats handelt, dem zu lauschen nicht nur den zahlreichen Fans der Blockflöte und Liebhabern des italienischen Barock empfohlen sei, sondern überhaupt jedem ohne Scheuklappen Interessierten.
Christoph Schlüren [02.03.2015]
Klassik Heute Magazine

Michala Petri, recorder
Carolin Widmann, violin
Mozart Flute Quartets
2 new reviews from Bruuchsaler Schlosskonzert, Germany
Bruuchsaler Schlosskonzert
24 February 2015
Bruchsaler Schlosskonzert vom 12. Dezember 2008: Michala Petri (Blockflöten) und Lars Hannibal (Gitarre und Laute)
PAMINA – Klassik online im Südwesten, 15.12.2008 (
Wenn stupende Technik auf Humor trifft
Michala Petri und Lars Hannibal zeigen in Bruchsal außergewöhnliche Bandbreite
Wann erlebt man dies an einem Abend: Höchstes Konzertniveau und Musik-Kabarett vom Feinsten. Michala Petri, weltweit
führende Blockflötistin, zeigt bei den Bruchsaler Schlosskonzerten die ganze Bandbreite ihres Instruments – die freilich nur
dann zum Tragen kommt, wenn man derart außergewöhnliche Fähigkeiten hat. Begleitet wird sie von dem ebenso
sympathischen wie versierten Lautenisten und Gitarristen Lars Hannibal.
Vollkommen gelassen steht sie auf dem Podium, die Augen hat sie dabei geschlossen – fast die ganze Zeit über
während des Spiels. Die dänische Blockflötistin Michala Petri ist nicht nur eine unbestrittene Meisterin ihres Fachs,
sondern sie beherrscht dieses Fach auch mit einer bemerkenswerten Selbstverständlichkeit: In ihren Sonaten,
Variationen und Fantasien, die ihr technisch alles abverlangen, nimmt sie sich völlig zurück und lässt stattdessen
schwindelerregende Trillerketten, schnurgeraden Läufe und Flatterzungen-Passagen (Töne mit leichtem Tremolo) für
sich sprechen, und sie verquickt dies unglaublich agil: Nichts, aber auch gar nichts scheint ihr irgendeine Form der
Anstrengung zu bereiten.
Bei den Bruchsaler Schlosskonzerten durften die Zuhörer auf
eindrucksvolle Art erleben, welche enorme Bandbreite die Blockflöte hat:
Gleich ein ganzes Bündel (von Sopranino bis Tenor) bringt Michala Petri
mit auf die Bühne; sie bewegt sich bei weitem nicht nur im konventionellen
Rahmen zwischen Renaissance und Barock, vielleicht noch ergänzt um die
eine oder andere zeitgenössische Komposition – denn erst im 20.
Jahrhundert entdeckte man die Blockflöte wieder, nachdem sie im
Konzertrepertoire mehr als 150 Jahre von der Bildfläche verschwunden
war. Nein, das Repertoire der sympathischen Musikerin ist viel
differenzierter, reicht bis hin zu Astor Piazzolla, denn – so erfährt man
nebenbei – der Tango wurde Ende des 19. Jahrhunderts erstmals auf einer
Flöte gespielt.
Gemeinsam mit ihrem Partner und Ehemann Lars Hannibal (Laute, Gitarre)
lässt sie sich nun auf ein ebenso virtuoses wie humorvolles Programm ein:
Bachs Sonate F-Dur (BWV 1033) beginnt erst mit einer ruhigen Einleitung,
doch dann wirft sich Michala Petri schwungvoll hinein in die brillanten
Figuren, bei denen einfach jeder Ton sitzt und alles mit der gleichen
Intensität, demselben runden Klang gespielt wird. Selbst die langsamen
Sätze, bei denen sie die schlichten Kantilenen unter einen einzigen großen
Bogen nimmt – sie alle folgen in ihrer Einfachheit noch einer sanft
pulsierenden Bewegung (beispielsweise in der c-moll-Partita für Solo-
Flöte), denn Michala Petri versteht es meisterhaft, diesen Bögen sofort eine Richtung zu geben. Sie stößt sie an, und
der Ton schwingt beinahe von alleine; es ist ein ganz natürlicher, weicher Atemfluss.
An der Laute ist Lars Hannibal ein aufmerksamer Partner, er folgt jeder Regung – man spürt, dass die beiden bestens
aufeinander eingespielt sind. Er fängt die Blockflöte mit behutsamen Gegenstimmen ab, umschmeichelt sie mit
bewegter Begleitung oder gibt ihr mit rhythmischen Akzenten einen festen Rahmen; wach und flink wechseln die
Figuren zwischen den beiden Instrumenten – etwa in Corellis Variationen über einen altspanischen Tanz („La Follia").
Vivaldis G-Dur-Sonate (RV 59) ist schließlich ein einziges Sprühen und Aufjauchzen.
Im zweiten Teil profiliert sich die Blockflöte dann als lautmalerisches und bildreiches Instrument: In Piazzollas „Histoire
du Tango", deren Einzelsätze mit „Bordel". „Café" und „Night Club" überschrieben sind, erwartet man selbstverständlich
eine schwül-laszive Atmosphäre, und man fragt sich zunächst, ob die Blockflöte dem entsprechen kann. Doch ein
helles, fröhliches Parlieren verbreitet schließlich die Anmutung von Leichtlebigkeit, und den verhangenmelancholischen
Ton beschwört ein tieferes Instrument.
Für die klare nordische Farbe in schlichten Volkstänzen, zarten Hirtenliedern und flimmernden Elfentänzen sorgen fünf
Stücke aus der „Lyrischen Suite" von Edvard Grieg – original geschrieben für Klavier, von Lars Hannibal eingerichtet
für Blockflöte und seine katalanische Gitarre, mit der er den Rest des Abends bestreitet.
Dazwischen lockern die beiden das Programm immer wieder mit launigen Zwischenmoderationen auf, und Michala
Petri zeigt ihren Sinn für Humor schließlich in ihren eigenen Variationen über das dänische Volkslied „Mads doss":
Extravagante Glissandi und derbe (gesungene) Gegenstimmen zum Flötenton sorgen hier bereits für Schmunzeln –
und nach der aufschäumenden, temperamentvollen „Fantaisie norvegienne" (von Edouard Lalo) gibt es zwei ebenso
pikante Zugaben. Denn nun sei man eingespielt, und in dieser wunderbaren Akustik könne man ohnehin nicht
aufhören, so der flapsige Kommentar.
In „Souvenir" von Ladislav Kupkovic windet sich die Blockflöte kokett bis schadenfroh um die immer gleiche, sehr
begrenzte Begleitung; Asger Lund Christiansen lässt in seiner „Garden Party" eine flinke Bachstelze und einen
wortkargen Kuckuck miteinander in einen komischen Dialog treten. – Selten erlebt man eine solche Vielfalt; den beiden
Künstlern gelingt höchstes Konzertniveau und Musik-Kabarett an einem einzigen Abend.
Christine Gehringer
Bruchsaler Schlosskonzert vom 12. Dezember 2008:
Michala Petri, Bockflöten und Lars Hannibal, Gitarre und Laute
Badische Neueste Nachrichten, Karlsruhe, 15.12.2008
Grandios: Die Flötistin Michala Petri im Bruchsaler Schloss
Edel, makellos, rein und schlank, angesiedelt in einer Zone zwischen Traum und
Glückseligkeit, so kommen sie daher: die Flötentöne von Michala Petri. Ihr erneuter
Auftritt in der Reihe der Bruchsaler Schlosskonzerte übertraf alle noch so kühnen
Der erste Teil war Johann Sebastian Bach, Arcangelo Corelli und Antonio Vivaldi
verpflichtet, – den Barockmeistern, die noch für die Blockflöte komponierten, bevor
diese in einen Dornröschenschlaf von etwa 170 Jahren versank, weil sie der
Traversflöte hinsichtlich Tonumfang und Klangstärke nicht mehr gewachsen war. Als
man im vergangenen Jahrhundert begann, die Barockmusik erneut zu schätzen,
empfand man auch das Bedürfnis, sie authentisch zu hören. Man darf davon
ausgehen, dass das, was man bei diesem Bruchsaler Schlosskonzert gehört hat – ob
von der Flötistin allein oder zusammen mit ihrem kongenialen Partner und Ehemann
an der Laute, Lars Hannibal – in den kirchenfürstlichen Barockräumen damals genau
so geklungen hat, falls Persönlichkeiten dieses Formates hier musiziert haben.
Mit schier endlosem Atem gab die Künstlerin den Kantilenen in den langsamen
Sätzen der F-dur-Sonate und c-moll-Partita Bachs sowie der Pastorale in der G-dur-
Sonate Vivaldis lebendige Gestalt, wobei sie die Verzierungen klug der Linearität
unterordnete. Die schnellen Sätze offenbarten ihre Virtuosität, – nie Selbstzweck,
sondern getreue Dienerin der Interpretation. So auch bei La Follia von Corelli, wo
das ursprünglich für Violine geschriebene Stück unter ihren quirligen Fingern zu
einem wahren Kabinettstück geriet.
Kompositionen mit folkloristischen Elementen aus der Zeit der Romantik und
Gegenwart prägten den zweiten Teil dieses Konzertabends. Auch hier bewegte sich
die Solistin absolut stilsicher, wenn sie etwa mit Astor Piazzolla die Hörer auf eine
Zeitreise durch die Geschichte des Tangos mitnahm, bei der charakteristische
Elemente dieses Tanzes in einem neuen Licht dargestellt werden, die Essenz jedoch
erhalten bleibt, aber auch bei der „Fantaisie norvegienne" von Lalo oder den Tänzen
von Edvard Grieg, wo beispielsweise die Elfen spukartig vorüberhuschen. Dass die
Virtuosität bei Michala Petri keine erkennbaren Grenzen kennt, bewies sie bei ihren
eigenen Variationen über das dänische Volkslied „Mads doss", in welchem es an
bruchlosen Glissandi, wild bewegten Tonkaskaden mit Flatterzunge (Frullato) und
kontrapunktisch mit den gespielten Tönen verwobenen gesungenen
schalmeienartigen Gegenstimmen nur so wimmelte.
Lars Hannibal, der im zweiten Teil seine Laute gegen eine katalanische Gitarre
ausgetauscht hatte, begeisterte durch sein Einfühlungsvermögen. Zu Zugaben
musste das sympathische Paar nicht gedrängt werden. Nach zwei Stunden höchster
Konzentration meinte die Primadonna des Blockflötenspiels: „Jetzt, wo wir uns warm
gespielt haben, fällt es sowieso schwer, aufzuhören".
Herbert Menrath
Bruuchsaler Schlosskonzert

Michala Petri, recorder
Mahan Esfahani, harpsichord
Corelli : La Follia
Great Eurodisc review on Corelli
Eurodisc Magazine
17 February 2015
Europadisc UK
Harpsichordist Mahan Esfahani has been making rather a name for himself over the last year or so, especially since the release of his Gramophone Award winning disc of CPE Bach's Wurttemburg Sonatas on Hyperion. Since then, there has been a very well received live recital from the Wigmore Hall and a brand new set of works by Rameau, again on Hyperion. However, our review this week actually moves away from his solo work and looks at a collaboration he has made with virtuoso recorder player Michala Petri. Featuring sonatas (transcribed) by Corelli, it is entitled La Follia and features six of the Opus 5 Sonatas, including the famous set of variations from which the disc gets its title. It is beautifully played and recorded (in Hybrid SACD format by OUR Recordings) and comes highly recommended as our disc to buy this week. See below for the full review.
Incredibly, it's almost thirty-five years since Danish recorder player Michala Petri burst onto the international music scene with her first recordings for Philips. Yet on this latest disc from her own OUR Recordings label her playing is as fresh and sparkling as ever. Here she teams up with the young Iranian-born harpsichordist Mahan Esfahani – already something of a star in his own right – for a splendidly invigorating disc of sonatas by Arcangelo Corelli.

Published in 1700, Corelli's twelve Opus 5 Sonatas for violin and continuo were among his most popular, appearing in no fewer than forty-two editions (including various re-arrangements) during their first century of existence. The second half of the set comprises six sonatas taking their inspiration from the baroque dance suite, and it is little wonder that they proved such a success, for they combine Corelli's own unique cantabile style of melodic invention with a wondrously uplifting sense of rhythmic buoyancy.

These performances are based on an eighteenth-century edition by John Walsh of London, 'The whole exactly Transposed and made fitt for A FLUTE and A BASS with the aprobation of severall Eminent Masters'. With changes in figuration to accommodate the recorder, they work brilliantly as an instrumental showcase, designed for the growing market in home music-making. Esfahani's insightful booklet note explains how he and Ms Petri have consulted extensive contemporary editions in their choice of ornamentation and continuo realisation, and their performances are sublimely engaging. Slow movements (notably the Sarabandes) are beautifully expressive without being over-indulgent, while the faster ones are nicely sprung and alert – the Gavottes of Sonatas 9 and 10 turn into wonderfully agile tours de force.

The highlight, however, is certainly the twelfth Sonata, a kaleidoscopic set of variations on the celebrated La Follia theme (advertised by Walsh as 'the SPANISH FOLLY') that proved so popular in the baroque period and even influenced Liszt, Rachmaninov and Tippett. Here, Petri and Esfahani are ideally responsive to the changing character of each variation, and Ms Petri's command of the various figurations is dazzling.

The recordings, made in the sympathetic baroque surroundings of Copenhagen's Garrison Church, strike exactly the right balance between spaciousness and focus, with the the harpsichord quite rightly less closely miked than it would be for a solo recital, yet no detail is lost, and Esfahani's brilliant harpsichord playing is a perfect match for Ms Petri's seemingly effortless virtuosity. A dream team, then – and, with a lavishly illustrated booklet, an easy recommendation for this endlessly charming and inspiriting music. November 2014
Eurodisc Magazine

New interview with Michala Petri in US Music Magazine Fanfare
James Reel, Fanfare Magazine
29 January 2015
Major classical labels may be in decline, but the CD business is booming for individual artists (and orchestras) operating their own labels. These aren't just minor players funding small-scale vanity products, but major performers taking chances that would not be possible in the current major-label environment. Recorder soloist Michala Petri (she pronounces her first name MEE-ca-la, by the way) and her frequent recital partner, guitarist/lutenist Lars Hannibal, have launched their own label, called OUR Recordings. The name could hardly be more specific about their emphasis. Each of the releases features one or both of the label's principals; some are collaborations between Hannibal and his other longtime recital partner, violinist Kim Sjøgren (together they appear as Duo Concertante).

There's something at least a little unusual about each disc. The most "ordinary" among them is a collection of not exactly obscure but certainly not over-recorded works for violin and guitar by Mauro Giuliani, recorded back in 1988 (8.226904). A fairly mainstream disc with a twist contains the Mozart Flute Quartets, reworked for recorder (Petri) and strings on a lovely sounding SACD (6.220570). Even better known music arrives in an unexpectedly small package: Lalo's Symphonie espagnole and Norwegian Fantasy in versions for violin and guitar that work surprisingly well (8.226903). There's a steamy Latin-tinged collection of duos for Petri and Hannibal called "Siesta" (8.226900), and two contemporary collections: works for recorder and orchestra by Joan Albert Amargós, Daniel Börtz, and Steven Stucky ("Movements," 6.220531); and violin-guitar duos by Palle Mikkelborg, Herman D. Koppel, Jørgen Jersild, and Vagn Holmboe ("Journey," 8.226902). Finally (for now), Hannibal accompanies bamboo flutist (or xiao player) Chen Yue in a program of traditional pieces from around the world ("Spirits," 8.226901), which comes with a DVD as well as a CD. Arriving soon will be Hannibal's traversal of Castelnuovo-Tedesco's Platero y yo , with Danish narration, and a collection of Chinese and Danish duets for bamboo flute and recorder.

I e-mailed Petri some questions about her label, which she managed to answer quite fully between stops on the concert circuit.

          You've had what appears to have been great success with Philips and BMG in the past. Why is this the time for you to go your own way with your own label?

I have had wonderful years with working both with Philips and RCA/BMG, and have through them been fortunate to work with many great musicians, orchestras, and composers. To this it must be added the friendships made with some of the people working at the labels, some of whom I am still close friends with. Working in music is not just work—you are one big family, with the family feeling that comes with it towards all involved in the working process.

However, the situation in the recording industry has changed radically in recent years, and the companies are now more concerned about what will sell in large numbers more quickly than before, so it is not easy to get enthusiastic support to record, for instance, contemporary music, or music that has not already proven itself to sell well. I somehow think that the marketing approaches of many of the big labels have become opposed to the nature of music, which is to bring out and inspire individuality in the listener as well as the performer. Also it is different today from 15 years ago in that everybody can now connect immediately via the Internet, so I think that people's "cultural" needs tend to be more targeted to what will suit them individually, rather than having a "consumer product" which in some ways has acted also as a uniting factor between people, which is now taken care of in other ways.

In having our own label I am able to continue and expand the way I think in my life and career, where I have always tried to be a pioneer for my instrument, and to promote individuality. We have the freedom to decide what we want to do—or follow what we feel is right—to record. The consideration (and challenge) is of course to find the money to finance the recordings, but as a small company we have better chances to keep the cost low, and I also believe in the "togetherness" of things—and feel somehow confident that if I follow my intuition rather than calculations of corporate accountants, the practical side will ultimately take care of itself. But then I am also good at not setting unrealistic goals, of course!

          What does OUR signify? Is it more than the plural possessive in English?

We have chosen the name OUR Recordings with a little tongue in cheek hint to the big companies and their consumer-driven way of thinking, indicating that we personally stand up for the content, more than merely focusing on wanting to sell a lot of CDs. We only release recordings where either Hannibal or I, or both of us, are involved as musicians. We have been asked by several musicians if we could release their recordings, but since we are musicians first of all, and it is very time consuming to have your own label, we have chosen to limit ourselves to this singular focus.

          How do you divide or share the various duties of operating the label?

Hannibal is very much the creative force who gets the ideas in the first place, and carries them through, where I more like to get lost in the music! Hannibal is doing all the label work, but we discuss all issues, and inspire and balance each other's ideas, much the same way as when we are performing together. I am also involved in the cover-art decisions, both graphic and booklet notes, and we have a graphic designer who is also a partner in OUR Recordings! And we are fortunate to have partners in China and the U.S. who are extremely wise, nice, and helpful co-operators; for us it is just as important to be on the same wavelength with co-workers in this as with fellow-musicians when we perform.

          Do you personally have direct control over every element?

We are both involved in all major decisions, such as the label profile, and in smaller things, like deciding which of our many projects shall be the next! On the musical side I am also getting increasingly involved in the editing process with the producers. I have been working with so many top producers in my career, which has given me some knowledge, although I know my limits. I find the interplay between my ears and the producer's suggestions and experience very inspiring. As a musician you are the one who knows what you want, what you have been feeling when studying the music, and sometimes you are the only one that hears the microscopic details that make the difference!

          You have been associated with Lars Hannibal for many years, and he has known and performed with Kim Sjøgren for a very long time. The three of you are the core artists on the first seven discs, with the addition of Chen Yue on "Spirits." Will the label continue to focus on the work of the three of you? Do you anticipate showcasing many guest artists like Chen Yue?

The focus of the label is just that the two of us, Hannibal and myself, are in one way or another involved musically—apart from that we have no borders. This thinking is in line with my constant attempt not to have any limits on my possibilities! Which is not the same as being uncritical—rather the opposite, since having no borders forces you to think hard in every case if this is really the right thing to do. The three recordings where Hannibal plays with Kim Sjøgren are all re-releases, having only been available in Denmark before. I personally have always loved those CDs very much, because of the sense of true musicianship they radiate, as well as the example they set in showing how transcriptions can attain a high level of artistic quality. If Hannibal and Kim will record again in the future, it would be obvious to have the recordings released on OUR Recordings. The recording of "Spirits" with Hannibal and the Chinese xiao virtuoso Chen Yue is only the first release with her. The next release on OUR Recordings will be a program of 10 duets composed especially for this project especially for Chen Yue and me by five young Chinese composers and five young Danish composers.

          You seem to be avoiding re-recording works you've recorded before. Do you anticipate revisiting any works you recorded years ago, or are you striving to issue only music that is new to your discography?

I would love to re-record some of the standard repertoire at some point. However, before that there are so many new things to record, especially repertoire which has not been recorded before, and which very much deserves to be better known. There are some new pieces for recorder and full symphony orchestra that work very well. The artistic and commercial possibility of works like this was confirmed for me by the Grammy nomination of the Northern Concerto by the Spanish composer Joan Albert Amargós. Also for re-recording, I would like to make sure that I can at least try to add something to my older interpretations—some of which are not bad at all, I have to admit when I happen to hear them. So in some cases I would like to re-release some of my older recordings that still have a communicative factor that outweighs that they clearly are played by a younger and humanly less experienced person than I am today. We have been negotiating for a while with Sony/BMG to see if we can reach an agreement on terms, so I hope that in the near future additional recordings can be made available again.

          What, in fact, are your criteria for selecting repertoire to record?

An impossible question to answer! Although I am never in doubt. Somehow my only criteria is the vague one that I feel that this is the right thing to do next, and that I feel that I can do it with a certain kind of conviction I have learned to recognize in myself over the years. So far we have had a "theme" for each CD, like "Kreisler Inspirations," featuring music originally composed for violin, "Siesta" with music with a "Latin" touch from the 20th century, or contemporary concertos written for me. But one day I might like to just have a theme called "as mixed and varied as possible!"—a musical kaleidoscope—maybe. Again I draw parallel to my way of making music, where I just do the single details the way I feel is right—and not until afterwards do I get an idea of the whole picture, of what my criteria were. Actually, my creative process is in this way closer to that of improvising musicians and composers than to a great deal of concert musicians, I have realized.

          Jordi Savall is releasing new material on his own label, but he is also gradually re-releasing the 70 recordings he made for another label earlier in his career. Do you anticipate reissuing any of your 70-some older recordings?

I find it very good to have earlier recordings available—you can never tell which are meaningful to some people, and I have very often had enquires for out-of-print CDs. I understand totally what Jordi Savall—whom I admire very much, by the way—is doing with his label, and I often look for older recordings myself to find inspiration. The newest is not always best.

          Do you have a particular philosophy of audio quality?

If it is possible, we like to work in SACD. It gives the possibility to have an extraordinary experience with the right audio equipment, which I found unique when I heard it the first time. It is great to create the feeling of being close to the musicians, to use these modern possibilities!

          Two of the discs are SACDs, and one CD includes a DVD. How great a presence will SACDs and DVDs have in your catalog, and for what reason?

We would like to have as many SACD recordings as possible, and in the future we will also release some additional DVDs. It is expensive, so far, but also a very interesting issue. We are all generally getting more visually oriented, and opposite to my thinking years ago, I find that seeing the performer can enhance your experience of the music. Some experienced listeners can understand just as much without pictures, but seeing a performance never diminishes the listening experience, I think, and it may make the music more accessible to more people. However, DVD is an art form in itself, especially if you want to also add something to the music with other pictures than of just the performers, so you have to find the right film directors to work with. In this field we have some plans that we have been working with for five years, which I hope will come true in the next couple of years.
James Reel, Fanfare Magazine

Michala Petri, recorder
Carolin Widmann, violin
Mozart Flute Quartets
Fanfare Overview on OURrecordings
Fanfare Magazine
16 January 2015
"Each OUR Recordings CD occupies its own niche and can be recommended without hesitation…"
Michala Petri is a world-renowned recorder virtuoso, but she's recently embarked on a second career running OUR Recordings with her husband, guitarist Lars Hannibal. Although justly praised for her exuberant and knowledgeable performances of Baroque music, Petri has always been an adventuresome artist, dedicated to expanding her instrument's repertoire by commissioning new works and participating in imaginative collaborations with other musicians. Judging by these CDs, OUR Recordings seems set on a similar exploratory path.
"Spirits" pairs Hannibal with Chen Yue, a Chinese bamboo flutist, in a mellow recital combining traditional English, Chinese, Japanese, Hungarian, and Catalan music with one piece each by Bach (the ever-popular Air on the G String), Vivaldi (the Largo from The Four Season's Winter, played in a faster-than-usual tempo), and Ulrik Neumann (a nostalgic Love Waltz with a Russian soul). Chen is a sensitive and expressive musician. Her lovely tone, tasteful slides, and exquisite timing beautify everything she plays; her performances of Chinese music are especially memorable. Lars Hannibal is an attentive accompanist and a virtuoso in his own right. His sophisticated arrangements—in the Chinese pieces he convincingly imitates traditional ch'in and pipa technique—treat both instruments as true partners. The two also perform as soloists—three tracks each—and Chen overdubs two flutes in Autumn Piece.
When I read the word "Siesta," I picture a recumbent Mexican wearing a multicolored serape snoozing under his extravagantly brimmed sombrero. For Lars Hannibal, however, a siesta offers a break from work which doesn't have to be spent sleeping. Instead, it's a good time to listen to music. You certainly wouldn't want to doze through this CD, as even in the familiar pieces the recorder's woody rusticity shines a new light on the old tunes. Piazzolla's Histoire du tango—a four-movement suite chronicling the evolution of tango in Argentina—expresses itself with humor, melancholy, and in the last movement, irony. Joan Albert Amargòs's Tango català has a Spanish title, but I hear Brazil in its mood, melody, and harmony. After the guitar sets the scene, the recorder joins in, substituting for a sultry singer in a work "having the quiet sadness of many a Jazz ballad" (from Leo Black's notes). Castelnuovo-Tedesco's Sonatina is the work of a classicist in love with Spain; Ravel's Pièce en forme de habanera sways to its endlessly seductive rhythm; and Entr'acte, Ibert's swirling mini-travelogue, recalls the old cliché that some of the best Spanish music is by French composers. Three works by Villa-Lobos close the recital: Modinha (literally, little song), a lyrical, syncopated melody; Distribução de flores, a haunting tune (especially when played by the tenor recorder), with an unmistakable South American Indian sound; and the Cantilena from the well-loved Bachianas
brasileiras No. 5. The recorder and guitar probably won't displace the voice and cellos of the original in listeners' affections, but the melody is as beautiful as ever... Overall, a very enjoyable disc that introduced me to some unfamiliar music while providing a fresh look at some perennials. (One tiny flaw: on my copy, the titles of tracks 9 and 10 should have been reversed.)
If your idea of a recorder concerto hasn't progressed beyond the Baroque, "Movements"— will be a revelation, for here are three large-scale works that place the instrument firmly in the 21st century. Amargòs's Northern Concerto is astonishing for its color, brilliant orchestration, and sheer sweep. The intoxicating opening theme, the fluid mix of tumultuous and lightly textured orchestral writing, allowing the enthusiastic piping of the recorder to be heard without strain, and the sophisticated, yet earthy rhythms confer immediate, sensuous delight. Stunning clarity and an exceptionally animated performance by soloist and orchestra—a tribute to the conductor's skill as well as to his players' virtuoso technique—unite in a sonic spectacular. I couldn't help but respond to Amargòs's exuberance, especially given my fondness for splashy, exotically tinged music. Pipes and Bells, Daniel Börtz's one-movement concerto, opens with a mysterious passage that's followed by rhythmically charged outbursts and moments of pastoral poetry. The recorder's soft "cuckoo, cuckoo" seems to emerge from and then recede into a mist as the music fades away. Writing about it, Hannibal explains that "Bortz 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." Steven Stucky's Etudes is much more sophisticated than the titles of its movements—"Scales," "Glides," and "Arpeggios"—might suggest. Alternately puckish, languorous, and jaunty, it's consistently colorful and inventive: the inspired orchestration always provides a perfect foil for Petri's agile, atmospheric playing. In sum, this is a fabulous disc, filled with wonderful music and performances that enlarge our appreciation of the recorder's possibilities.
Each OUR Recordings CD occupies its own niche and can be recommended without hesitation, but if I had to choose just one, I'd be hard pressed to discard "Movements."
-Robert Schulslaper
Fanfare Magazine

Michala Petri, recorder
Carolin Widmann, violin
Mozart Flute Quartets
5 out of 5 stars for Mozart in
06 January 2015
My Favorite Recording of 2007: Petri and Company with Mozart's Flute Quartets (review from   
Michala Petri of Denmark on the recorder, Carolin Widmann of Germany on the violin, Ula Ulijona of Lithuania on the viola and Marta Sudraba of Latvia on the cello. All four ladies demonstrate remarkable tonal balance and seamless phrasing in their respective accompaniments,although Michala Petri is by far the best renown for her works with Keith Jarrett for RCA, most notably the Bach Sonatas for flute Bach: Six Sonatas and the Handel recorder sonatas Handel: Recorder Sonatas. I disagree with the previous reviewer about Mozart's flute quartets being played just on flutes. Herein is the argument: was Mozart the composer more concerned about the actual composition as is, or the interpretation of what ought to be played?
The transverse flute finds its most contemporary interpretation in the alto, soprano and the birdlike sopranino recorders. Petri plays these instruments brilliantly and with great virtuosity, although without casting attention upon herself but sharing the stage with her fellow ensemble members. The other three ladies are accomplished performers in their own countries so it is with great respect that I esteem this wonderful collaboration of four ladies from such diverse backgrounds.
The entire recording has a delicate feel that is warm and caressing to the ears. Although the modern flute may sound metallic and even shrill at times, there is none of that harshness here. All four quartets come forth with seamless phrasing and sensitivity to detail. Our Recordings' sonic engineering is to be commended. This was beautifully produced overall in the month of August 2007 on the Danish island of Bornholm. With detailed backgrounds of each performer and excellent liner notes, this disk is highly recommended. The best recording of 2007 for me, ClasseekGeek.
Performance: 5 stars. Sonic Engineering: 5 stars. (This hybrid SACD sounds warm and inviting even on a home stereo system without SACD capabilities) Presentation/Packaging: 5 stars. Track Selection: 5 stars.
  OUR Recordings
Esromgade 15, opg. 1, 3rd floor, room 15
2200 Copenhagen N
Tel: +45 4015 05 77




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