Great review on English Recorder Concertos in UK Magazine "Scene"!
Scene Magazine
22 June 2014
From the English magazine "Scene"
Early 20th century orchestral and chamber music underwent a transformative process that saw new composing methods emerge to challenge the orthodox strictures of classical masters. But at the same time the monolithic edifi ce of the Western instrumental tradition was starting to splinter, a cultural countercurrent formed. Spurred on by advances in music history, scholarship and recording technology, an effort to revive the sounds of medieval and renaissance Europe was also underway, offering up a curious aural contrast to serialism and atonality. One of the instruments to directly benefi t from this renewed interest was the recorder, which - at one time – was known as the "English fl ute". Although use of the instrument had fallen out of favor during the classical and romantic musical periods, its smoky yet remarkably robust melodic sound found fans in British composers Richard Harvey, Sir Malcolm Arnold and Gordon Jacob, three men whose works comprise the program of this recent CD release. Performed by incomparable instrumental soloist Michala Petri and the City Chamber Orchestra of Hong Kong under the direction of conductor Jean Thorel, these varied pieces demonstrate the range of once-maligned woodwind. From the dramatic opening of Harvey's Concerto Incanto through the pastoral meanderings of Jacob's Suite for Recorder and Strings, this is the music of European myth and history. Recommended.
– Chris Morgan
Scene Magazine

US Magazine Fanfare on English Recorder Concertos
Fanfare Magazine
24 June 2013
Raymond Tuttle
Fanfare, September 2012

What a lovely disc this is! This is a collection of three English recorder concertos by Malcolm Arnold, Gordon Jacob, and Richard Harvey…Petri is asked to play several different recorders throughout, from tenor to sopranino. The recorders are accompanied by a delicate orchestra, consisting of strings, flutes, clarinets, harp, celesta, and percussion. As the movement titles suggest, this is elfin, magical music.I have to confess it: I've loved every Michala Petri CD that has come my way, and it is too late to turn back now. She offers proof—if proof were needed—that the recorder transcends its schoolhouse associations by producing sounds that are both uncommonly plangent and sweet. Her many fans might be reluctant to duplicate the Arnold and Jacob works, but Harvey's concerto is a most enjoyable discovery, and so there's really nothing to do but to go out and purchase this CD as well! © 2012 Fanfare
Fanfare Magazine

Great Infodad review on English Recorder Concertos
Infodad
17 September 2012
The recorder was once the frequent province of virtuosi, but as the transverse flute supplanted it, it fell into comparative obscurity – from which it never quite emerged except in period-practice performances of older works.  However, it never went entirely out of style, either, and is now undergoing something of a revival: Concerto Incantato by Richard Harvey (born 1953) was written as recently as 2009.  This piece, which receives its world première recording in a thoroughly convincing performance by Michala Petri, for whom it was written, is a five-movement work with spiritual and magical overtones in the movements' titles: Sortilegio, Natura Morta, Danza Spiriti, Canzone Sacra and Incantesimi.  Petri makes the music flow naturally and entertainingly from start to finish, bringing considerable charm to a work that combines modern sensibilities with the old-fashioned orientation of a Telemann suite.  Sir Malcolm Arnold'sConcerto for Recorder and Orchestra (1988), also written for Petri, is a more-serious piece and sounds more substantial, even though it is much shorter than Harvey's work (12 minutes vs. 29).  Arnold clearly saw the recorder as continuing to deserve the same solo prominence in the 20th century that it had in the 18th.  Gordon Jacob, however, saw matters differently: his Suite for Recorder and Strings (1957) takes full advantage of the instrument's lightness and its ability to create a fleet-footed impression, as if its music is about to take wing.  The seven-movement suite, which recalls Telemann even more directly than does Harvey's work, actually contains more slow-paced movements (four) than quick ones (three).  But far from trying to delve deeply into emotional realms, even in the Lament (Adagio),Jacob keeps everything comparatively light and at times even bubbly, as in the Burlesca alla Rumba and concluding Tarantella.  Petri is an absolutely wonderful advocate for the recorder, with the three pieces here showing off her considerable skill and their composers' very different talents as well.

Infodad, Canada  May 2012


Infodad

Great review in International Record Review on English Recorder Concertos
International Record Review
17 September 2012
Review on English Recorder Concertos in International Record Review:

Michala Petri is a phenomenon, seemingly unstoppable in her pursuit of new territory for her chosen instrument. If the modern recorder has never quite achieved the high-profile status it surely had in the Baroque era, this is not for want of continued endeavour on her part – and at her hands it may even yet happen. The child prodigy of the 1960s from Denmark, who seemed able to tackle anything from sonatas of Handel or Telemann to the complexities of a piece such as Berio's Gesti with equal aplomb, has long since turned into a mature artist. Most recently the creation of her own label, OUR Recordings has enabled Petri and guitarist Lars Hannibal, to give durable form and wide circulation of the variety of music they have exposed, anything from Mozart to recorder concertos from China and Viennese salon music,- and much else besides.
The Chinese connection continues with the present release, which is partly the fruit of Petri's successful collaboration in 2009 with the City Chamber Orchestra of Hong Kong. No allowances need be made on any front, musical or technical: the accompaniments as directed by the orchestra's current chief conductor Jean thorel are always alert, and the recorded sound, emanating from one of the orchestra's regular showcase venues, the concert hall of the Hong Kong Cultural Centre, is excellent. The booklet notes are likewise very thorough if once or twice a trifle gusting, while several evocative photographs of Stonehenge and the Lake District are included to reinforce the essential Englishness of the sonic fare on offer.
The last comes in 3 guises, one (from 2009) by living British composer who likes to defy pigeon-holding, and the other two (from 1957 and 1988 respectively) by a pair of last century Englishmen, one of whom was a pupil of the other: on the CD, three items appear in the reverse chronological order.
Thus richard Harvey's Concertos Incantato occupies pride of place at the start of the disc – rightly so, as it was not only a commission from the present orchestra to the present soloist but it also, at nearly 30 minutes, by some margin the most ambitious work here. The idiom is straightforwardly tonal, tuneful even, and Harvey seems cheerfully determined to give the lie to the recorder's oft-proclaimed limited expressive means, though he never quite ventures into the avant-garde areas which are explored in the above-mentioned Berio piece. The five movements, neatly contrasted, some distinctly challenging for the fingers, bear pictorial titles as "Sorcery", "Still Life" etc. and culminate in a lengthy finale called "Incantations" that feels rather like a set of variations or meditations on a tune first heard in the preceding movement. Petri's required to use what the notes call "the full set of recorders"; this seems to extend only down to the tenor recorder, but I could swear that I once caught a glimpse of the rare specimen, the bass recorder. It looked rather dangerous.
The Concerto, op. 133  by Malcolm Arnold was one of the fruits of his bewitchment by Petri's playing in the late 1980s. Just when, after the sombre Ninth Symphony, he was inclined to give up composing altogether, Petri (along with Julian Lloyd Webber and his cello) somehow re-kick-started his muse. Unmistakably Arnoldian, it is a small-scale but remarkable inventive late work that harks to the airy tone and style of some of his much earlier pieces, the three delectable Sinfoniettas in particular. Petri has remained loyal to the piece, often performing it in concerts; she also made a 1992 recording with Okku Kamu conducting, bravely coupling it with the new recorder works by Koppel, Holmboe, Kulesha and Asger Lund Christiansen – unsurprisingly, perhaps, that disc has long since vanished. So this new performance, little different from its predecessor, is doubly welcome.
Gordon Jacob was Arnold's composition mentor when the latter was a student, principally of the trumpet, at the Royal College of music round the outbreak of the Second World War. Though not a vast amount of Jacob's music is heard in the concert hall these days, he is prolific in his time, seemingly allying a natural fluency to the impeccable craftsmanship predictable from so eminent a teacher. His Suite (of seven short movements, whose titles include "English Dance", "Pavane" and "Tarantella") has an accompaniment for strings alone. It has had only two previous recordings, I think, neither of which I have managed to hear. Petri with ASMF and Kenneth Sillito coupled it with works by William Babel, John Baston and Handel on a 1984 release (reissued on Phillips 476 164-2). More recently Annabel Knight recorded it along with an assortment of other Jacob recorder works, many originally written for Carl Dolmetsch, with the Maginni Quartet and others (Naxos 8.572364). The Suite perhaps plumbs no great depths – nothing here does – but the layout of the music itself, plus the sheer sound of the recorder(s) and Michala Petri's playing of them, all inevitably,bring to mind a pathos, even melancholy, redolent of an earlier Elizabethan age. Thus this welcome release can truly be said to contain many "Sounds and sweet airs, that give delight and hurt not".
Piers Burton-Page IRR, July/August 2012
International Record Review

Great UK Magazine International Record Review on English Recorder Concertos
International Record Review
20 August 2012
International Record review (IRR)

Michala Petri is a phenomenon, seemingly unstoppable in her pursuit of new territory for her chosen instrument. If the modern recorder has near quite achieved the high-profile status it surely had in the Baroque era, this is not for want of continued endeavor on her part - and at her hands it may even
yet happen. The child prodigy of the 1960s from Denmark, who seemed able to tackle anything from the sonatas of Handel or Telemann to the complexities of a piece such as Berio's Gesti with equal aplomb, has long since turned into a mature artist. Most recently the creation of her own record label, OUR Recordings, has enabled Petri and her guitarist husband, Lars Hannibal, to give durable form and
wide circulation to the wide variety of music they have espoused, anything from Mozart to recorder concertos from China and Viennese salon music, and much else besides.

The Chinese connection continues with the present release, which is partly the fruit of Petri's successful collaboration in 2009 with the City Chamber Orchestra of Hong kong. No allowances need be made on any front, musical or technical; the accompaniments as directed by the orchestra's current chief conductor, Jean Thorel are always alert, and the recorded sound, emanating from one of the orchestra's regular showcase venues, the concert hall of the Hong Kong Cultural Centre, is excellent. The booklet notes are likewise very thorough if once or twice a trifle gushing, while several evocative photographs of Stonehenge and the Lake District are included to reinforce the essential Englishness of the sonic fare on offer.

The last comes in three guises, one (from 2009) by a living British composer who likes to defy pigeon-holing, and the other two (from 1957m and 1988 respectively) by a pair of last-century Englishmen, one of whom was a pupil of the other; on the CD, the three items appear in reverse chronological order.

Thus Richard Harvey's Concerto Incantato occupies pride of place at the start of the disc - rightly so, as it was not only a commission from the present soloist but it also, at nearly 30 minutes, by some margin the most ambitious work here. The idiom is straightforwardly tonal, tuneful even, and Harvey seems characteristically determined to give the lie to the recorder's oft-proclaimed limited expressive means, though he never quite ventures into the avant-garde areas which are explored in the above-mentioned Berio piece. The five movements, neatly contrasted, some distinctly challenging for the fingers, bear pictorial titles such as 'Sorcery', 'Still Life', etc. and culminate in a lengthy finale called 'Incantations' that feels rather like a set of variations or meditations on a tune first heard in the preceding movement. Petri is required to use what the notes call 'the full set of recorders'; this seems to extend only down to the tenor recorder, but I could swear that I once caught glimpse of the rare specimen, the bass recorder. It looked rather dangerous.

The Concerto, op. 133 by Malcolm Arnold was one of the fruits of his bewitchment by Petri's playing in the late 1980s. Just when, after the sombre Ninth Symphony, he was inclined to give up composing altogether, Petri (along with Julian Lloyd Webber and his cello) somehow re-kick-started his muse. Unmistakably Arnoldian, it is a small-scale but remarkably inventive late work that harks back to the
airy tone and style of some of his much earlier pieces, the three delectable Sinfoniettas in particular. Petri has remained loyal to the piece, often performing it in concerts; she also made a 1992 recording with Okko Kamu conducting, bravely coupling it with new recorder works by Koppel, Holmboe, Kulesha and Asget Lund Christiansen - unsurprisingly, perhaps, that disc has long since vanished.
So this new performance, little different from its predecessor, is doubly welcome.

Gordon Jacob was Arnold's composition mentor when the latter was a student, principally of the trumpet, at the Royal College of Music round about the outbreak of the Second World War. Though not a vast amount of Jacob's music is heard in the concert hall these days, he was prolific in his time, seemingly allying a natural fluency to the impeccable craftsmanship predictable from so eminent a teacher. His Suite (of seven short movements, whose titles include 'English Dance', 'Pavane' and 'Tarantella') has an accompaniment for strings alone. It has only two previous recordings, I think, neither of which I have managed to hear. Petri with the ASMF and Kenneth Sillito coupled it with  works by William Babell, John Baston and Handel on a 1984 release (reissued on Philips 476 164-2). More recently Annabel Knight recorded it along with an assortment of other Jacob recorder works, many originally written for Carl Dolmetsch, with the Maggini Quartet and others (Naxos 8.572364).
The Suite perhaps plumbs no great depths - nothing here does - but the layout of the music itself, plus the sheer sound of the recorder(s) and Michala Petri's playing of them, all inevitably bring to mind a
pathos, even melancholy, redolent of an earlier Elizabethan age. Thus this welcome release can truly be said to contain many 'Sounds and sweet airs, that give delight and hurt not'.
Piers Burton-Page,- July/August 2012
International Record Review

Great review on English Recorder Concertos in US Magazine The Whole Note
The Whole Note
20 August 2012
Of the many works written for the recorder over the last century, few of the neo-classical or neo-impressionist examples ever make it onto concert programs or CDs, so it's good to see the release of this recording. Opening the program is Richard Harvey's Concerto Incantato, written for soloist Michala Petri in 2009. Using a variety of sizes of recorder over five movements, Harvey writes beautifully for the instrument and the piece also sweetly reflects his sensibilities as a composer for film and television. Here's hoping that the piece receives more performances by recorder players around the world!
Following the Harvey is Malcolm Arnold's diminutive Concerto Op.133, written for Petri in 1988, and his inclusion of winds in the orchestration makes for a welcome colour change. Gordon Jacob's exemplary seven-movement Concerto for alto (and sopranino) recorder and strings closes the program. Written in 1957 for Carl Dolmetsch, it blends the strengths of both string and recorder worlds and is given a definitive and expressive reading here.
Conducted by Jean Thorel, the City Chamber Orchestra of Hong Kong is superlative throughout, and Michala Petri, one of the recorder's leading figures of the past 40 years, is completely at home in this repertoire.

The Whole Note

German Klassik.com review on English Recorder Concertos.
Klassik.com
24 July 2012
German Magazine Klassik.com
English Translation!

Michala Petri's most recent release focuses on a cross section of 20th century English recorder concertos, including several works she previously recorded. The result is convincing, but in many aspects different from her first recordings.

It is quite common for artists to return to a certain work several times and offer a "fresh perspective."
The present case, however, presents a rather surprising selection of "return visits" if for no other reason, even the best of these works will enter the popular canon of recorder repertoire. The name of the disc is "English Recorder Concertos" – a title that already appears several times in the catalogue, both on disc by Ms. Petri and others.

The recorder – well, how to approach this instrument? While throughout most of Europe, the recorder has survived primarily as an early music and/or student instrument in England, it has enjoyed an entirely different role, almost bordering on prestige. This is due primarily to the instrument's extraordinary renaissance promulgated by early music specialist and recorder virtuoso Arnold Dolmetsch (1858-1940). Beginning in '20s, primarily with a view to performing historic repertoire with a degree of authenticity, his son Carl (1911-1997) continued to family's mission and succeeded in interesting composers of our time in writing new works for the instrument. And as this disc bears witness, this tradition shows no sign of abating.

Carl Dolmetsch was responsible for commissioning Gordon Jacob's Suite for flute and strings (1957-8), a seven-movement work that deftly plays with tradition. Michala Petri had previously recorded the
work (for Philips in 1982) as well as Sir Malcolm Arnold's 1988 Concerto, written for Petri, (for RCA in 1995) however both discs are currently OOP. Now Petri brings both works out on her own label, along with a new composition, "Concerto incantato 'by Richard Harvey.  Harvey's Concerto was written in 2009 for the ten-year anniversary of the City Chamber Orchestra of Hong Kong. As with his program mates, Harvey shares a basically traditionally approach, evoking the pastoral tradition so favored by English composers, in an effort to create what the booklet describes as a "concerto for the Harry Potter generation." If this were indeed his intention, one wonders how soon this work might be eclipsed in today's fast-paced cultural super market. Harvey's music is very descriptive, and utilizes a very traditional musical language, not surprising considering Harvey's successful career as a film score composer, as well as suggesting moments of Britten's 'Simple Symphony' or the works of Malcolm Arnold and even a hint of Philip Glass/John Adams-inspired minimalism. Perhaps most convincing is
the slow movement 'Natura Morte', with nice effects for the soloist  (but alas, also an inappropriate flutter-vibrato towards the end of the movement). The City Chamber Orchestra of Hong Kong performs here under its chief conductor Jean Thorel and presents their ensemble skills well, though one wonders how the orchestra (without a spectacular soloist) might hold its own in a score by say, Debussy?

Arnold's Recorder Concerto (Op. 133), although much shorter than Harvey's, demands greater attention from both the interpreter and the listener. It is generally recognized that Arnold wrote effectively for his soloists, especially wind and brass instruments. His teacher Gordon Jacob also shares this praise, but with the difference that despite his facility, Jacob's music COULD sound too calculated and that he played things a bit on the "safe side." For example the suite (written in the fifties) is not really very challenging but one respects it was never Jacob's goal to make any "deep" statement, preferring to have his attractive and idiomatic music accepted on its own terms. Whereas Arnold could be an extrovert, Jacob is more introspective.

Petri's two recordings of the Arnold concerto differ most strongly in the slow movement, where the current interpretation (as often in later recordings) is almost a full minute longer than the earlier recording. Overall, the new recording is more introspective, the virtuosity is downplayed. The real essence of this music – indeed, as with much of Arnold – is for his music's ability to be exuberant without a loss of poetic dept. When comparing both interpretations, I must confess that that the earlier recording (which is included in the 2006 Decca box set edition of all of Arnold's concertos) seems more appropriate stylistically. It is in Jacob's suite where Petri's current performance bests her earlier recording with the Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields (1982), despite the more deliberate tempos (particularly in the 'Burlesca alla rumba'). However, both versions are certain to be popular with audiences and performers alike no matter which you choose.

Michala Petri is not exactly known as a leading advocate of British music. In the case of British recorder music, it is difficult to get around mentioning John Turner, even despite the fact the Turner was largely self-taught. He seems to have largely followed his own muse, and has generally avoided duplicating Petri's repertoire, but still managed to release two full CDs of other 20th century British recorder concertos (ASV 2002 and Dutton 2005), in addition to numerous other productions featuring British chamber music with recorder. A comparison of Turner's playing with Petri's reveals the Brit's approach to be less refined than Petri's (especially when playing softly) but also, at times more original, though in truth, Petri has only recorded a fraction of those that Turner has.

The booklet reflects the same technically flawless production values we have come to expect from this label, but perhaps maybe too emphatic in its reflection of the preferences of the soloist (and label owner). The glossy booklet design is perhaps a bit conventional and unfortunately the numerous photos sometimes disrupt the flow of the (not entirely bad) texts.
Jürgen Schaarwächter, 07.07.2012

Klassik.com

All Music Guide on English Recorder Concertos
All Music Guide
12 July 2012
Danish recorder player Michala Petri has commissioned a number of works, including the Malcolm Arnold and Richard Harvey concertos heard here. She has executed this process intelligently, eliciting works that not only display her nonpareil technical skills but also reflect on the connotations a recorder carries in a modern setting. The Harvey concerto contains some of the conventions of neo-Renaissance writing, but sets them against both the extreme virtuosity of the solo part and the "incantations" of the title; if not exactly spiritual, it's a fresh and utterly accessible work. The short concerto by Arnold is one of the slight but luminous works of his old age. The Suite for recorder and strings of Gordon Jacob, composed in 1957, was commissioned by recorder revivalist Carl Dolmetsch. Its language was in no way restricted by the amateur ethos of the mid-century recorder revival, with hints of jazz present both rhythmically and harmonically and a solo part that yields nothing to the other two works. Petri is icily superb throughout, but the real pleasure here is in the music, not simply the mechanics.

by James Manheim, June 2012
All Music Guide