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FANFARE 1 - "Here’s wishing them another twenty-five years of eloquent music making together. Highly recommended".

July 3, 2017

Dave Saemann

GARDEN PARTY  Michala Petri (rcr); Lars Hannibal (gtr)  OUR 6.220619 (SACD: 57:43)

NIELSEN Humoresque Bagatelles. HANNIBAL Dreams. Sunset Dance. LALO Fantasie Norvégienne. CHRISTIANSEN Garden Party. GRIEG Five Lyric Pieces. ANON. Ge XIe Mei Ling

Part of recorder player Michala Petri’s appeal as a concert artist, apart from her musicianship and stunning virtuosity, is that she is a beautiful woman. With the years, she has grown more beautiful in body and soul. I’m sure the two are connected. Recently I had the pleasure of reviewing Petri’s vibrant and evocative album Brazilian Landscapes, featuring percussionist Marilyn Mazur and Brazilian guitarist Daniel Murray. Now, to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Petri’s duo with guitarist Lars Hannibal, they have released Garden Party, a collection of character pieces. The guitar parts have been arranged by Hannibal, except for the title work, Garden Party, which was written for Petri and Hannibal by the Danish cellist and composer Asger Lund Christiansen. Petri says that she enjoys playing character pieces in her recitals, because their titles give the audience an idea of what to expect and puts them at ease, so they can be emotionally responsive to the music. Petri also likes the fact that character pieces typically possess a humorous element, which encourages the artist to play with more exaggeration than in a standard concert work. For proof of Petri’s delicious sense of humor, I direct you to her YouTube video of Vittorio Monti’s Czardas accompanied hilariously by Victor Borge, at the latter’s 80th birthday concert. Garden Party is an admirable album, not merely for its repertoire, but also for the collective wit and wisdom of two performers who have trod the boards together for a good part of their lives. They are gentle souls whose artistry deserves to be cherished.
Carl Nielsen’s Humoresque Bagatelles originally are lovely and charming piano miniatures. Petri’s evocation of “The Spinning Top” makes one dizzy. “A Short Slow Waltz” is treated to a beautifully lyrical interpretation. “Puppet March” is a delightfully balletic work of youthful fantasy. “The Musical Clock” could be the score for a music box. Hannibal’s warmly atmospheric Dreams has the deceptive simplicity of Satie. Edouard Lalo’s Fantasie Norvégienne weaves a rich tapestry of Norwegian folk melodies. Petri demonstrates her expressive range in this work, originally written for Pablo de Sarasate. In the final movement, Petri’s playing has the feel of a game of hopscotch. Garden Party is a cheeky title by Christiansen for a collection of pieces about birds. “The Blackbird” paces the ground with a certain solemnity. One can see “The Peacock’s” herky jerky movements, including the instant of shock when it spreads its feathers. “The Lark” soars with brilliant sound in the recorder part. There’s a touch of Herbie Mann in Hannibal’s Sunset Dance. In the selections from Edvard Grieg’s Lyric Pieces, the “Elve’s Dance” is filled with Petri’s stunning, quicksilver virtuosity. By contrast, her ease in “Cattle Call” summons up the pastoral life. She almost seems to be playing a penny whistle in “Stumping Dance.”
Flowering Flowers at the River Ge is an ancient Chinese melody recently discovered and realized by Zhang Weiliang. It ends the program with musical speech from a different and distant culture. The sound engineering on the album’s CD layer is excellent. I was unable to hear the surround sound program. Garden Party is a wonderful celebration of a quarter century of the Petri/Hannibal duo. Here’s wishing them another twenty-five years of eloquent music making together. Highly recommended. Dave Saemann, July 2017

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