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Don't miss this stunning release! Classic Today US

May 31, 2007

Jed Distler, Classic Today

Anyone who claims that the recorder's tiny dimensions cannot possibly compete in a solo capacity against a full-sized 21stcentury orchestra should investigate these three dazzling and inventive concertos, written for and tailored to Michala Petri's singular virtuosity.
Spanish composer Joan Albert Amargós' three-movement Northern Concerto provides the recorder with limber, jazzy melodies that effortlessly float in, around, and above an orchestral canvas that allows all participants to shine, collectively and individually. The brass and percussion get particularly invigorating workouts, while the finale features unexpected yet delightful solo turns from the bassoon and muted trumpet.
By contrast, Swedish composer Daniel Börtz's Pipes and Bells is a dark, snarling opus, filled with tension-inducing trills, obsessive ostinatos, long notes stretched to the edge of sanity, and the occasional lyrical oasis.
Each of the three movements in Steven Stucky's Etudes goes way beyond merely addressing specific technique. In the first, for example, the orchestral instruments eagerly take up the recorder's scale patterns more-or-less at tempo, only to slow them down and scrutinize them as soft, sustained chords hover in the background. The second movement "Glides" features falling glissandos that are more about melodic nuances and expressive gestures than sound effects. The piano, harp, and percussion set off, complement, and sometimes compete with the recorder's witty arpeggios throughout the third movement.
The sheer musicality and sense of character Petri brings to these works almost make you take her extraordinary technique and tone control for granted. Lan Shui's brilliant leadership inspires the Danish National Symphony Orchestra/SR to convey all of the color and vivacity that these scores demand, helped by the Danish Broadcasting Production team's breathtaking engineering.
Don't miss this stunning release!
--Jed Distler