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Music Web International (UK) This is a fine disc which will provide great pleasure to recorder fans, showing us all the standards to which we humble amateurs can merely aspire.

January 31, 2012

Dominy Clements

Fans of Michala Petri will need little persuading to acquire this disc, and Lars Hannibal is also a known quantity for his fine recordings, including his contribution to duo works by Mauro Giuliani (see review). With this release the Petri/Hannibal duo celebrate twenty years of music-making, having given their first appeared on stage in 1991. I wasn’t quite so keen on Petri’s Mozart Flute Quartet recording (see review), if only because the nature of the recorder seemed less suited to ¼ membership of a string quartet when compared to the arguably more flexible flute or traverso. Given the transparency of accompaniment from the archlute there are no such issues here, and the highly virtuoso playing of Michala Petri soars unrestrained over lightly plucked harmonies.

Beautifully recorded in general, this is also a well chosen programme of pieces. The famous variations of Corelli’s La Folia are a central masterpiece of the repertoire, and the bravura display in this piece echoes that of Vitali’s Chaconne in G minor, which is a stunning opening to the disc: both movingly expressive and technically impressive both as a composition as in performance. Petri mixes up her instruments to a certain extent, so there is variation in colour of sound to be had in the lower instruments used for instance in the Grave of Telemann’s Sonata in D minor, and the Vivaldi Pastorale from the Sonata in G major. This latter work is now known to be a forgery by Nicolas Chédeville, a well known musician and instrument-maker, whose subterfuge resulted in ‘Vivaldi’s’ Il pastor fido Op. 13. This is fine music, and fits in well with the other pieces despite being something of a Cuckoo’s egg in terms of authenticity.

Familiar flute pieces like J.S. Bach’s Sonata in F major BWV 1033 work very well here, with the chains of sixteenth notes of the Presto something of a tour de force. Petri improvises some extra ornamental lines in the Adagio, but is effective within the idiom, and not going beyond the boundaries of believable contemporary practice. Another familiar piece is Tartini’s “Devil’s Trill” Sonata in G minor, more specifically for violin, but with some touches of expressive vibrato and superb dexterity very effective on Petri’s recorder, in particular in the literally breathtaking central Allegro. Handel’s urbane Sonata in B flat is a perfect close to a very fine recital.

Sumptuously printed in glossy colour, the booklet has substantial and informative notes by Joshua Cheek, and the whole production has a deluxe feel. In plain stereo I do detect some slight restriction in the recorder sound on high sustained notes – that or a dampening effect the balance has on the lute, something of which the SACD layer is also not entirely free. This is however a very minor point, picked out through highly analytical headphones. As far as I can tell the SACD layer is also stereo rather than surround audio. This is a fine disc which will provide great pleasure to recorder fans, showing us all the standards to which we humble amateurs can merely aspire.
Dominy Clements, February 2012

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