10/10/10" Einem absoluten Vergnügen"
Markus Zahnhausen, Klassik Heute, Germany
23 December 2017

Was lange währt, darf auch gebührend gefeiert werden: Das weltbekannte dänische Künstler-Duo Michala Petri (Blockflöte) und Lars Hannibal (Gitarre) spielte sein erstes Konzert im Jahr 1992 in Südspanien. Seither haben die beiden sympathischen Musiker über 1.500 Konzerte in den bedeutendsten Konzertsälen rund um den Erdball gegeben und waren auf den wichtigsten Musikfestivals zu Gast. Bekannte zeitgenössische Komponisten haben eigens für das Duo geschrieben, dessen nunmehr ein Viertljahrhundert währendes Schaffen auf zahlreichen CDs dokumentiert ist.

Der Titel des Jubiläumsalbums Garden-Party legt die Vorstellung einer ebensolchen nahe, führt aber ein wenig in die Irre, denn er ist dem gleichnamigen, 1992 entstandenen Stück des dänischen Komponisten Asger Lund Christiansen (1927-1998) entlehnt, das in einer Ersteinspielung auf diesem Album erscheint.

An dieser Stelle möchte ich eine persönliche Erinnerung an dieses bemerkenswerte Ensemble einflechten. Es wird Anfang der 2000-er Jahre gewesen sein, als ich das Vergnügen hatte, die beiden Musiker zum ersten Mal „live“ in einem Konzert in der fabelhaften Aura und Akustik des Münchner Prinzregententheaters hören zu dürfen. Neben der außerordentlichen Virtuosität und Bühnenpräsenz sind mir bis heute die gelungenen Bearbeitungen einiger Lyrischer Stücke Edvard Griegs in Erinnerung geblieben, die so überzeugend klangen, als ob sie genau für diese Besetzung geschrieben worden wären.

Zusammen mit den Humoristischen Bagatellen ihres großen dänischen Landsmannes Carl Nielsen bildet eine Auswahl eben jener Lyrischen Stücke sozusagen den Eckpfeiler des Programms – zauberhafte musikalische Petitessen in fabelhaften Arrangements, mit perfekter Leichtigkeit und Klangsinn gespielt.

Dazwischen, gleichsam als Intermezzi, zwei herrliche, ein wenig an Eric Satie erinnernde Kompositionen Lars Hannibals, die ebenso auf diesem Album zum ersten Mal eingespielt wurden: Dreams und Sunset Dance entführen den Hörer in eine ruhige, zeitlose Traumwelt und fügen sich ideal in das Gesamtkonzept der CD ein.

Dramaturgisch geschickt sind die beiden umfangreichsten Kompositionen des Programms in der Mitte platziert: die in Lars Hannibals Bearbeitung überraschend „vollwertig“ klingende Fassung von Edouard Lalos ursprünglich 1878 für den legendären Geiger Sarasate geschriebener Fantasie norvégienne sowie die bereits eingangs erwähnte Garden Party Lund Christiansens, eine originelle Suite, die durchaus bildhaft, jedoch nie plakativ die Charaktere von sechs verschiedenen (Garten)vögeln wie Amsel, Buchfink, Dompfaff, Bachstelze u.a. darstellt. Die Titelgebung des Werkes und seiner Sätze wirkt auf mich wie ein bescheidenes Understatement, handelt es sich doch spieltechnisch wie musikalisch um äußerst anspruchsvolle Miniaturen, die sich keineswegs auf die Imitation von Vogelgezwitscher reduzieren lassen.

Michala Petri ist bei alldem ganz in ihrem Element. Unter Einsatz einer breiten Palette verschieden timbrierter Blockflöten glänzt sie durch ihre musikalische Natürlichkeit. Lars Hannibal fungiert nicht nur als Begleiter, sondern als absolut ebenbürtiger musikalischer Partner.

Der herrliche Klang der Aufnahme und ein umfangreiches mehrsprachiges Beiheft lassen die CD zu einem absoluten Vergnügen werden. Ohne Zweifel ein wahrhaft würdiges Fest zum 25-jährigen bestehen dieses außergewöhnlichen Künstler-Duos.

Markus Zahnhausen, Klassik Heute, Germany

"Effortless symbiosis of these two veteran collaborators"
Charlotte Gardner, Gramophone, UK
26 October 2017
Gramophone (UK)
With two highly contrasting album releases already under her belt this year (the premiere recording of Sean Hickey´s A Pacifying Weapon, and “Brazilian Landscapes” with guitarist Daniel Murray and percussionist Marilyn Mazur), the only thing you can absolutely guarantee with Michala Petri is whatever she does next she´ll be doing very soon; the rate at which she brings out new recording is nothing short of prolific and every one is entirely different to the last. As is “Garden Party”, a recital of nature-themed “character pieces” recorded with her regular duo partner, the Danish guitarist Lars Hannibal, in celebration of what is now their 25-year performing relationship.
Rather fittingly for a disc honouring this collarborative “home”, the lion`s share of its repertoire also lands Petri solidly on geographical home ground; the Garden Party of its title is a birdsong-inspired suite written in 1992 by her fellow Dane Asger Lund Christiansen, the programme opens with their compatriot Carl Nielsen´s originally-for-piano Humoresque Bagatelles, and there are even two dreamly lilting vignettes by Hannibal himself. In fact, there´s often a faintly dreamy, gentle quality to this programme, even in its perkier moments such as the “Leaping Dance” and “Elves dance” from Grieg´s Five Lyric Pieces (neighbouring Norway being the other Nordic nation gets a good shout). Combine that with the effortless symbiosis of these two veteran collaborators, and the fluidity and naturalness of Petri´s playing in itself, and it´s all too easy simply not to register how virtuoso so much of this music is, even amid the swirling acrobatics of the Presto from Lalo´s Fantaisie Norvégienne or the dizzily whirling figures of Nielsen´s “The Spinning Top”.
Ultimately, I suspect you´ve got to be pretty signed up to the recorder per se, and in the market for something gentle and “mood music”-esque, to genuinely fall for this album. However, it´s beautifully played.
Charlotte Gardner, Gramophone, UK

Et musikalsk sølvbryllup
Peter Dürrfeld, Kristeligt Dagblad
16 September 2017
I 1992 holdt guitaristen Lars Hannibal og blokfløjtevirtuosen Michala Petri deres første udenlandskoncert i klostret La Cartuja de Cazalla de la Sierra i Andalusien, og siden har parret turneret over stort set hele kloden og givet ufattelige 1.500 koncerter med et vidtspændende repertoire – lige fra barok over den klassiske og romantisk periode til nutidige værker, der er komponeret specielt til dem.
Det er nok værd at fejre – og det sker på smukkeste vis med en cd, der har fået titlen ”Garden Party” efter en suite, som den danske cellist og komponist Asger Lund Christiansen skrev i 1992, og som her er indspillet for første gang.
Inspirationen fra fuglestemmer fremgår af de seks titler, men her er bestemt også noget at komme efter for os ikke-ornitologer.
Det nordiske spiller en betydelig rolle på jubilæumsskiven.Carl Nielsen er repræsenteret med sine ”humoresques bagatelles”, oprindeligt skrevet for klaver i midten af 1890érne, mens man af Edvard Grieg får fem lyriske stykker, tydeligt inspireret af norsk folkemusik.
Edouard Lalo hører også hjemme i den kategori (selv om han er franskmand med spanske aner), for i 1878 komponerede han den indtagende tresatsede ”Fantasie Norvégienne”.
Lars Hannibal har begået to af numrene ”Dreams” og den stemningsfulde ”Sunset Dance”, begge revideret i 2015. Det fyldige program rundes af med Ge Xie Mei Ling . det lyder og er kinesisk.
En herlig cd i OUR Recordings´ stilsikre layout og fortræffelige lyd.
Peter Dürrfeld, Kristeligt Dagblad

4 star review, Adaptions and original pieces for this superb recorder-guitar duo
BBC Music Magazine
15 Septeember 2017
Adaptions and original pieces for this superb recorder-guitar duo – the disc´s jazzy title suite evoking the calls of three birds is especially charming.
BBC Music Magazine

Highly recommenden (4½ Star out of 5
James Mannheim, AllMusic (US
08 September 2017
4½ star out of 5
The great Danish recorder player Michala Petri, having inspired a generation of younger virtuosos, has turned in the later part of her career to recordings of a personal kind, issued on a label of her own distributed by Naxos. Here, together with guitarist and frequent concert partner Lars Hannibal, she explores the character piece: not in itself a personal genre, but Petri explains in an elegant note how such pieces help her connect with new audiences, an enterprise to which the recorder is well suited. To this end she offers delightful miniatures, arranged from piano pieces by Nielsen and Grieg; a lovely and all-but-unknown Fantaisie Norvégienne by Lalo that exists in various versions (sample these and you may be sold on the spot), and some contemporary pieces that fit the mood, as well as a Chinese finale. Throughout, Petri offers the mix of clarity and tonal precision (so far removed from the whining recorders of the first wave of the instrument's revival during the LP era) and warmth that has had her setting the standard for a while now. Highly recommended. 
James Mannheim, AllMusic (US

5 Star review "dreamlike realm of peace and pleasure".
Remy Franck, Pizzicato, Luxemburg
07 September 2017
Die entspannte Musikalität dieser CD garantiert einen uneingeschränkten Genuss. Mit der Produktion haben die beiden Interpreten Michala Petri und Lars Hannibal nicht nur ihrem Publikum eine Freude gemacht, sondern auch sich selber.
Sie feiern damit den 25. Geburtstag ihres Duos, dessen Aktivitäten im Sommer 1992 im Kloster ‘La Cartuja de la Sierra’ in Andalusien begannen. Seither haben die beiden über 1.500 Konzerte gegeben.
Ihre ‘Garden Party’ ist ein gelungener Mix aus ruhigen und etwas virtuoseren Stücken, mit viel Nostalgie und wunderbar reflektiven Momenten. Technisch ist ganz besonders das Spiel von Michala Petri immer wieder von stupender Qualität in der Atemführung, der Dynamik, der Färbung und der Schattierung. Auch Lars Hannibal ist auf seiner Gitarre ein souveräner Interpret. Beide überzeugen durch eine perfekte Geschmackssicherheit und ein musikalisches Niveau, das die Musik veredelt und in eine vollendet kommunikative Form bringt. Selbst in der simpelsten Musik erreichen die Interpreten eine Stimmigkeit, die beim Hörer zusammen mit den unaufgeregten Schönheiten des Programms rezeptiv-harmonische Qualitäten entfaltet, die zu einem entspannten Wegdriften der Wahrnehmung führt, sofern er zu dieser Kulturtechnik noch fähig ist.
In celebration of their 25th anniversary, Michala Petri and Lars Hannibal have selected a very special program of mostly calm and reflective music, wonderfully played. The relaxed beauty of the performances allows the listener to drift off in the dreamlike realm of peace and pleasure.
Remy Franck, Pizzicato, Luxemburg

5 star (Maximun) review on Garden Party in UK Newspaper Daily Mail
David Mellor, Daily mail (UK)
24 August 2017
Michala Petri is the world’s leading recorder player, and more fun can be found on her latest album, Garden Party, with her long-term musical partner, the guitarist Lars Hannibal. Hearing Petri’s dazzling virtuosity, it’s hard to remember that this delightful music comes from the much-derided recorder that we all hated so much at school. 
Here it sounds absolutely dazzling in a range of short, descriptive, so-called character pieces. Some of them are quite well known, such as five transcriptions of Grieg’s delightful Lyric Pieces, originally for piano. 
Most, however, are not, like Edouard Lalo’s forgotten and, for decades, lost Fantaisie Norvégienne, originally for violin and orchestra, and drawing on Norwegian folk music. 
Then there’s the late Danish cellist Asger Lund Christiansen’s Garden Party, an affectionate portrait of six well-known garden birds, and Carl Nielsen’s Humoresque Bagatelles. 
This last piece, in six movements, is eight minutes of pure musical joy; light and breezily melodic. It’s the sort of music you want to listen to over and over again. And I did. 
David Mellor, Daily mail (UK)

If you're looking for something that's relaxing but not soporific, and music that won't make you feel talked down to, Garden Party is heartily recommended.
Raymond Tuttle, Fanfare US
02 August 2017
Michala Petri never sleeps. This must be the third CD of hers that I have reviewed in the last 12 months. I have yet to hear anything from her, however, that sounds routine or casual, so I have no reason to complain. Bring 'em on, Ms. Petri!

This CD is identified as a collection of character pieces, defined (in the Oxford Dictionary, and quoted in the booklet note) as “A short composition intended to evoke a given mood, atmosphere, scene, etc. by purely musical means rather through text or dramatic action.” For Petri, such works, because they bear a descriptive title, let audience members know what the composer had in mind, and therefore listeners are made to feel “safe.” In this way, a shared listening experience is created. Petri also writes about her 25 years of performing with Lars Hannibal, who was not just her musical partner but also her marriage partner up until 2010. They have made many CDs together and this one, although Petri plays a starring role, nevertheless reveals the ongoing sympathy and support that they have for each other as musicians.

Asger Lund Christiansen's Garden Party, a suite of six sketches based on birds (the blackbird, the chaffinch, etc.) was composed for Petri and Hannibal. It's a charmer, and I particularly liked how the cuckoo, more clueless than aggressive, has the very last word in his duet with the wagtail, as if he hasn't realized that the piece has ended! The works by Nielsen and Grieg were composed for piano. The former's Humoresque Bagatelles sound very unlike Nielsen, and I suppose that's because a) they are early works; and b) they were composed for children. They work beautifully when played on a recorder and a guitar. The selection of five Grieg works is described as “Lyric Pieces,” but to be picky about it, I think several of them actually are from that composer's Op. 17 collection of 25 Norwegian Folk Songs and Dances. Because the recorder is, in a sense, a folk instrument, music in a folk style is particularly well suited to it.

Listening to these selections by Christiansen, Nielsen, and Grieg I was reminded of those beloved old “Duets With Spanish Guitar” LPs in which guitarist Laurindo Almeida partnered with flutist Martin Ruderman. Petri and Hannibal give off very similar “good vibes.”

Lalo's Fantasie, probably most familiar in its version for violin and orchestra, also exists in a version for violin and piano. It has never seemed particularly Norwegian to me, and it seems even less so in this version for recorder and guitar, but that doesn't matter, given how nicely Petri and Hannibal play it. It has plenty of atmosphere; just don't expect Scandinavia!

I would have thought that Hannibal's two pieces were composed for him and Petri. Surprise—he wrote them for a chamber ensemble. Dreams was inspired by Satie's Gymnopédies, and, more indirectly, so was Summer Dance. These are lovely, quiet works, and they exert a hypnotic charm.

The closing work is Zhang Weiliang's adaptation of a traditional Chinese tune whose title is translated as “Flowering [Blossoming?] Flowers at the River Ge.” It is unclear if Zhang Weiliang composed it for recorder and guitar or for some other instruments, but indeed, the recorder imitates Chinese bamboo flutes and the guitar imitates the pipa, the traditional Chinese lute. It brings Garden Party to a quiet and somewhat mysterious close—just perfect!

Petri, as usual, plays several recorders on this CD, and Hannibal's guitar gets a page to itself. Both “guitar nerds” (Hannibal's phrase, not mine!) and recorder nerds will experience frissons of quiet delight when they attend this Garden Party. You don't need to be in either of those groups to be delighted with it as well. This is not a recital that needs to be analyzed. It was meant to be enjoyed, and there's nothing about the music or the performances that would get in the way of that. If you're looking for something that's relaxing but not soporific, and music that won't make you feel talked down to, Garden Party is heartily recommended.
Raymond Tuttle, Fanfare US