I looked for some fault, to moderate such fulsome praise, but could find none. International Record Review (UK)
Martin Anderson ,International Record Review (UK)
International Record Review (UK)
Dialogue New CD/SACD
East Meets West.
Chaoketu Yan Gui (The wild goose comes back home). G. Chen The Greeting from Afar. R. Chen Jue (Very rare and fine jade). Hu Rong (Fusion). Li Peng Zhuang (Sparkling Collision).
Monrad EastWest-project 16. Murashkin Cascades. M. Nielsen Stream. Rofelt
Circonflexe. Sejlund Butterfly-Rain. Chen Yue (xiao/dizi); Michala Petri (recorders).
OUR Recordings 6.220600 (full price, 1 hour 8 minutes). Website www.ourrecordings.com.
Producer/Engineer Preben Iwan. Dates September 5th, 6th, 10th and 11th, 2008.
My interest in football is pretty well zero; but when George Best died and a TV news
programme showed a clip of him apparently unchallenged by gravity as he seemed to
dribble the ball both through and around an opposing player as fleet-footedly as a
Mariinsky prima ballerina, I was gobsmacked: this was true virtuosity, a supreme
achievement in its own way. I found unexpected pleasure in this release for the
same reason: it's a project perfectly realized. From the outside, a CD of ten contemporary
duos for recorders and their Chinese equivalents is not the kind of release to set
the pulse quickening; it was respect for Michala Petri's musicianship that led me to
investigate further, and I'm delighted I did.
Petri and her instruments will need little introduction to western audiences; Chen Yue
and hers might. She plays variants of two instruments thousands of years old in their
design: the xiao and the dizi. The recording 'is the result of several years' planning', as
the Introduction in the booklet by Joshua Cheek explains (Cheek is an expert on
contemporary Chinese music): ten young composers, five Danish and five Chinese,
were commissioned to write a duo for Petri and Chen. The results, all written in 2007,
are very different: some of the composers wrote 'locally' for each instrument, others
drawing their performance techniques into a more abstract framework, but all of them
show a striking alert ear in responding to the colours they are working with – although
you'll have trouble following which is which as they whirl around each other like tumbling
doves. It's far from obvious to the innocent ear which composers are Danish and which
Chinese: it struck me that the fourth track has something of the formal elegance of the
courtship rituals of Manchurian cranes and so was probably by one of the Chinese; no – it
was Butterfly-Rain by Pernille Louise Sejlund (b.1979). The next track, The Greetings from
Afar by Gang Chen (b.1969), dances along with the light-footed good humour that
informs many of the other tracks. The performances are immediately
engaging, and the sound (the recording was made in a Danish church) couldn't be
bettered. The booklet, too, is a model of what such things should be, with Cheek's
Introduction followed by a page on each composer and then by presentations of the
musicians and their instruments; and the design has been beautifully done. I looked for
some fault, to moderate such fulsome praise, but could find none.