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American Record Guide, She is the wind-player’s wind player.

February 28, 2010

Elaine Fine
American Record Guide,

Chamber Music (19th Century) - GIULIANI, M. / CARULLI, F. / KUFFNER, J. / BEETHOVEN, L. van / KRAHMER, E. (19th Century Cafe Music) (Petri, Hannibal)

Though Lars Hannibal spends much of his time arpeggiating on the tonic, subdominant, and dominant, he does it with tremendous finesse; and Petri, who can make the homeliest melody sound enchanting (and this recording has its share of homely melodies) floats, flies, and jumps into places I never knew the recorder could go.

The “menu” at this cafe includes music written for violin and guitar: Mauro Giuliani’s Gran Duetto Concertante, Opus 52; Ferdinando Carulli’s Fantasie sur un Air National Anglais (the ever-popular ‘God Save the King’), and Joseph Küffner’s Potpourri sur des Airs Nationaux Francais, which includes an amusing set of variations on ‘La Marseillaise’.

I love the transcription and performance of two little-known pieces that Beethoven wrote for mandolin and fortepiano. The C-minor Sonatina, WoO 43a, is simple and lovely; and the C-major Sonatina, WoO 44a, might be the most light-hearted piece Beethoven ever wrote. These pieces sound completely natural on the soprano recorder and the guitar.

Ernest Krähmer wrote his Introduction, Theme and Variations for the csakan, an instrument that has the mouthpiece of a recorder, a very narrow bore, and five keys that eliminate or reduce the need for cross-fingerings. Perhaps the keys also make it possible to navigate the gymnastic writing in the high register. The instrument went out of fashion in the first part of the 20th Century, so Petri plays the csakan pieces on the recorder. I imagine that she switches instruments from alto to soprano for the sections of the pieces that go into the very high register. Joseph Mayseder’s Potpourrie on Themes of Beethoven and Rossini was also written for the csakan and the guitar, as was Carl Scheindienst’s Variations on Gestern Abend war Vetter Mikkel da, a pseudonymous work (Scheindienst translates as “imaginary servant”) that was published in 1815.

I have been a devotee of Michala Petri since I first heard her play back in the 1970s. She is the wind-player’s wind player. I have discussed her brilliant musicianship and impeccable technique with principal wind players in several major American orchestras, who hold her playing in the highest regard. I think what she does on the recorder is simply remarkable, and she continues to amaze me with her brilliant transcriptions. I hope that one day she will make them available to other recorder players. Elaine Fine
American Record Guide, March/April 2010

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