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International Record Review, UK- This is a most beautifully recorded and presented SACD

Michael Jameson

This is a most beautifully recorded and presented SACD. It contains a selection of largely very familar Baroque masterpieces, but heard in unusual transcriptions for recorder and archlute. The performers are the celebrated recorder virtuoso Michala Petri and lutenist Lars Hannibal and, as the booklet notes explain, with this release they celebrate two decades of collarboration as a duo.
These artists are unquestionably masterful throughout but for all the excellence of their playing, the appeal for this disc seems to be fairly limited. The principle drawback with this issue might seem to be pretty self-ecident. This is the somewhat limited idiomatic range and expression potential of the recorder itself, a particular concern given that so much of the music recorded here was originally devised for other instruments, including the violin.
Vitalis labyrinthine Chaconne in G minor for example, is best known as a virtuoso showpiece for the violin, and excist in countless recordings with both piano and orchestral accompaniment. Petri and Hannibal certainly give a pretty astonishing reading of the piece. Petri`s virtuosity in particular is often incredible. Another violin stable. the "Devil`s Trills Sonata by Tartini, arguable works rather better in the version here, because the registral requirements and expressive range of the music are by no means so extreme; in an case, the work falls into three distinctive sections, the last of which leads into a break to a brisk final Allegro. Though spirited and polished in every way, this performance nevertheless lacks the required Faustian resolve that the piece ideally needs, and if you are familar with it in its customary farm, you`ll find this seriously wanting in weight and rhetoric.
Of this remaining works here, sonatas by Telemann, Bach, Vivaldi and Händel seems better suited for this partnership, whose playing is adroit and sophisticated. Interestingly, though, Corelli`s 24 variations oan atheme, known as "La Folia", No 12 from his hugely influential set of Op.6 Violin Sonatas, another cornerstone of the violin repertoire, is heard here in a version for recorder and keyboard accompaniment made by the English publisher John Walsh in 1702, indicating Corellis`s groundbreaking violin works had already morphed into other instrumental genres quite early on in their history. Here, as is the case throughout this release, Petri`s recorder playing is stunning. There are useful insert notes from Joshua Cheek, too. For all that, it`s still hard to know quite which sector of the market this is intended for. Michael Jameson, December 2011

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