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Fanfare Magazine (US)- A remarkable disc, stunningly performed and well recorded.

May 3, 2014

Colin Clarke

BORUP-JØRGENSEN Periphrasis.1 Nachtstück.2 Architraves.3 Zwiegerspräch.4 Birds Concert.5 Fantasia.6 Pergolato.7 Notenbüchlein8 • 1, 3, 5, 7Michala Petri (rcr); 2, 4, 6, 8Elisabet Selin (rcr); 4, 6Ingrid Myrhøj (hpd); 1Gert Mortensen (perc) • OUR RECORDINGS 8.226910 (60:17)
Any idea that a disc of recorder music is going to be gentle and filled with happy pipings is instantly contradicted by the overtly Modernist drum poundings that open Periphrasis (1977, revised 1993–94), which arrive like so much thunder. It comes as no surprise to learn that Axel Borup-Jørgensen (1924–2012) attended Darmstadt, first in 1959, returning in 1962. It is scored for recorder and percussion; the percussion writing is virtuosic (as is the performance in this recording); the instruments interact with and react to the recorder’s likewise virtuosic statements. If the recorder has a chalumeau register, it is this which is on display in the later parts of the piece (around seven and a half minutes in). Michala Petri, surely the world’s best-known (and loved) recorder player, demonstrates not only virtuosity but a true understanding of idiom.
Elisabet Selin, a name new to me and in fact the composer’s daughter (and student of Michala Petri), is clearly of an equivalent level of virtuosity and musicality. Written for solo tenor recorder, Nachtstück (1967) is an intriguing meditation. It comes as no surprise to encounter multiphonics in this music; the surprise is that they are so convincingly rendered. There are even attempts at counterpoint. The result is remarkable, and caught in a vivid recording.
The shrill monodic adventures of the solo sopranino recorder (Petri) shape Architraves (1977). The reference to birds is visceral, and quite unlike Messiaen—a sort of mid-stage between birdsong proper and what Messiaen might have done with it perhaps, or a first-step transmogrification. Whatever, it remains on the tightrope between delightful and demanding. Our avian friends return in Birds Concert (1985), where Petri is once more at her most charming.
The arrival of the harpsichord is like listening to shards of glass: This particular harpsichord is a very forceful instrument, and is recorded viscerally in Zwiegerspräch of 1988–89. Here it is the sopranino recorder of Selin that complements the harpsichord with its shrillness. At only just over five minutes, the work feels too short (although it is relentless).The Fantasia of 1975 (revised 1986–88) for sopranino recorder (Selin) and harpsichord is the longest piece on the disc. The stamina of the players is truly remarkable, perhaps mostly in terms of sheer concentration. The intensity does not flag for a second. The solo recorder flights are remarkable in their inspiration; the harpsichord’s antics are hardly less impressive. The ending is cheeky and teasing.
Written in 2011, Pergolato is for treble recorder, a five-minute lament delivered eloquently by Petri. The Notenbüchlein (as it is given on the back cover; in the notes it is Notenbüchlein für Anna Elisabeth) of 1977–78 is an exploratory piece whose solo melody (Selin), while not quite as melancholic as Pergolato, nevertheless speaks of questing, of searching.
A remarkable disc, stunningly performed and well recorded. Colin Clarke, Fanfare May/June issue 2014

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