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Gramophone (UK) ".. it´s beautifully played".

September 30, 2017

Charlotte Gardner

Gramophone (UK)
With two highly contrasting album releases already under her belt this year (the premiere recording of Sean Hickey´s A Pacifying Weapon, and “Brazilian Landscapes” with guitarist Daniel Murray and percussionist Marilyn Mazur), the only thing you can absolutely guarantee with Michala Petri is whatever she does next she´ll be doing very soon; the rate at which she brings out new recording is nothing short of prolific and every one is entirely different to the last. As is “Garden Party”, a recital of nature-themed “character pieces” recorded with her regular duo partner, the Danish guitarist Lars Hannibal, in celebration of what is now their 25-year performing relationship.
Rather fittingly for a disc honouring this collarborative “home”, the lion`s share of its repertoire also lands Petri solidly on geographical home ground; the Garden Party of its title is a birdsong-inspired suite written in 1992 by her fellow Dane Asger Lund Christiansen, the programme opens with their compatriot Carl Nielsen´s originally-for-piano Humoresque Bagatelles, and there are even two dreamly lilting vignettes by Hannibal himself. In fact, there´s often a faintly dreamy, gentle quality to this programme, even in its perkier moments such as the “Leaping Dance” and “Elves dance” from Grieg´s Five Lyric Pieces (neighbouring Norway being the other Nordic nation gets a good shout). Combine that with the effortless symbiosis of these two veteran collaborators, and the fluidity and naturalness of Petri´s playing in itself, and it´s all too easy simply not to register how virtuoso so much of this music is, even amid the swirling acrobatics of the Presto from Lalo´s Fantaisie Norvégienne or the dizzily whirling figures of Nielsen´s “The Spinning Top”.
Ultimately, I suspect you´ve got to be pretty signed up to the recorder per se, and in the market for something gentle and “mood music”-esque, to genuinely fall for this album. However, it´s beautifully played. Charlotte Gardner, Gramophone, October 2017

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