In sum, this is a fabulous disc, filled with wonderful music and performances that enlarge our appreciation of the recorder’s possibilities.Fanfare (USA)
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.