All Music America- Petri and Hannibal succeeds in reviving music that would normally not be revived anyway.
October 31, 2010
All Music America
Café Vienna is an interesting departure for Our Recordings, the label run jointly by guitarist Lars Hannibal and recorder virtuoso Michala Petri. Usually the focus, apart from the outstanding artistry of these musicians, is on contemporary and/or Baroque music, but this collection is centered in the early nineteenth century -- an important period for Hannibal's instrument -- and in Vienna's coffee culture which was raging at the time. For this program, Petri takes advantage of the busker's long tradition of adapting music not written for her instrument, such as the flute or violin. However, in some cases the pieces here are written for instruments even more arcane than the recorder, such as the Csákány in the work by Ernest Krähmer, therefore Petri and Hannibal succeeds in reviving music that would normally not be revived anyway.
North American listeners will take great interest in Carulli's Fantasie sur un air National Anglais, Op. 102, as the "air National Anglais" happens to be "God Save the King," also the tune of an official national anthem in the USA, "America." Variation sets on this tune are numerous in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, but as this is a fantasy, once the theme is stated the music goes its own direction in a very attractive way. Another standout is the Beethoven Sonatina in C major, WoO 44a; it's a relatively simple and pleasant tune that fits very well on the recorder and Petri plays this little Beethovenian bon bon with obvious enthusiasm and joie de vivre. There really isn't any weak material on this CD; the only thing that seems to stick out from the rest is the Krähmer as the recorder seems recorded a bit more closely and it's an exceptionally bright track. But the disc as a whole has a wonderfully rounded feel to it that suggests the gently relaxed atmosphere of the coffee house and its special blend of aromas, the musicianship is top flight and Our Recordings' Café Vienna would make for a great counterpoint for Saturday afternoon gardening and other relaxing activities that require some measure of concentration -- the music is as warm and agreeable as a cup of coffee, but will not compete with one's train of thought. November 2009