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10/10 Classics Today, (US)

May 31, 2008

David Vernier, Classics Today

You could easily make the case that the recorder--not the modern orchestral flute--should be the preferred instrument for Mozart's so-called "flute quartets". At least, you could after hearing Michala Petri's lovely, fluid, timbrally congenial, eminently entertaining--and yes, virtuoso performances. The virtuoso description must be applied here because the facility of technique, the miraculous control of breath and phrasing, the affecting attention to even the smallest nuance of articulation (all embodied in the opening minutes of K. 285) are in a league by themselves among today's recorder soloists.

As such, Petri's playing--accompanied by a very capable string trio with the rapport and ensemble awareness of seasoned chamber musicians (listen to the delicate phrasing in the Menuetto of K. 285a)--allows her lines their "solo" character while achieving a more gratifying integration with the strings than is possible with the modern flute's more assertive, metallic voice. The warm, ebony-timbre of the three different recorders Petri uses (alto, soprano, and sopranino) actually has a closer affinity to the quality of the stringed instruments, and thus to the flute of Mozart's day. Although even in the hands of a master like Petri the recorder's intonation challenges can't be absolutely solved, the few slightly under-pitch moments are just that--momentary--and will be unnoticed by all but the most keen-eared, attentive listeners.

Petri's impressive technical command of these instruments--supported by gorgeous, natural, ideally balanced sonics--allows her complete musical/expressive freedom, and in pieces that are not among Mozart's most notably sophisticated creations, she and her responsive partners make music that's both eloquent and entertaining--just what Mozart would have wanted. Highly recommended!

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