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Fanfare (US) Petri fans—and all others—won't be disappointed with this disc

August 31, 2008

Steven E. Ritter , Fanfare

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I cannot remember the last time a woman touted herself turning 50! But in Michala Petri's case, it only serves to show how this particular milestone means the woman is truly only getting better with age. Petri has had the solo recorder scene practically to herself her entire career, and just sampling this impressive live concert shows why. Technically, she remains the most dazzling artist of her antique instrument anywhere. The tempos in the Vivaldi are upbeat and flashy, with some dexterously handled staccato articulations. More lyrical in nature is the Albinoni Concerto, a work Petri has played infrequently. Mozart is a composer whom Petri has turned to only recently (and to grand effect), feeling that his centeredness and intimacy is something she should be exploring more thoroughly at this juncture in her life.

Chen Yi (b. 1953) is a "crossover" composer in that she attempts a mixture of Chinese and Western cultural traditions. Currently distinguished professor at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, her The Ancient Chinese Beauty has three movements: "The Clay Figurines," "The Ancient Totems," and "The Dancing Ink," which are her impressions of ancient Chinese art. It was premiered in 2008 by the Beijing Philharmonic in the city of the same name, and is a fine piece, reflecting the artistic exaggeration of forms and postures, the overwhelming yet stoic fierceness of a totem, and the dancing nature found in works of ink calligraphy.

Artem Vassiliev, now 39 years old, has written a work for alto recorder called To Say Goodbye , where the composer, in his own words, wrote the piece "as if it were a personal diary" in moments of great personal sadness after the unexpected deaths of two composer friends; for once, the music amply reflects the sentiments at the time of composition. Fitting into the middle of this concert is a wonderful Concerto for Strings by Nino Rota, revised in 1977, and among his most popular works. Rounding out the concert are the quick selections from Happy Birthday Variations by Peter Heidrich, a suitable ending to a fine evening.

Petri fans—and all others—won't be disappointed with this disc. While it can't be considered essential, it is a quality listening hour well spent, with sound that is amazingly transparent for a radio broadcast. Steven E. Ritter ,1. September 2008