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Recorder Magazine (UK) - Highly recommended

November 14, 2015

John Turner

Recorder Magazine (UK)
This CD contains three extremely diverse recorder concertos. Thomas Koppel was one of the sons of the distinguished Danish composer Herman David Koppel, whom I remember meeting many years ago (and trying unsuccessfully to persuade him to write for the recorder!) at the Tivoli Concert Hall in Copenhagen – it was a memorable concert as it was my first hearing of Nielsen`s lovely Springtime in Funen.) Thomas founded an experimental rock group, Savage Rose, which achieved cult status. But latterly he turned to serious composition, before his too early death in 2016. The concerto Moonchild`s Dream (which Michala Petri has already recorded on a previous disc) is “easy listening” (very!), but I say that not in any pejorative sense. The work is filmic (indeed, it was written for a film project about a Copenhagen street child), very melodic (catchy even), and has in spades what the recorder does best – showy decoration and manual dexterity. There are constant colourful diatonic roulades of scales and arpeggios, while the orchestral textures are dominated by lush strings and harp (other woodwinds is used sparingly but tellingly). The solo instrument almost sounds like panpipes, and there is a cosy quasi-Celtic atmosphere to the music. The sound just washes over you in wawes – ideal for a long car journey!
In total contrast the single movement work by Gudmundsen-Holmgreen (Chacun Son Son – “to each his own sound”) is hardly a concerto at all. The recorder leads the woodwind group as primus inter pares, whilst the other sections of the orchestra are treated independently, often attacking each other with some brutality! Charles Ives comes to mind! At the start the bass recorder is surrounded by seemingly inconsequential thwacks, explotions, grunts and squecks, but gradually the music assumes the character of a rather heated jam session, and, after a high cadenza for the sopranino recorder fighting against the full orchestra, a solo violin memorable interposes its own cadenza, before the music splutters to a halt. Chaotic, but organized chaos, with some wonderful (and intentional!!) mistunings. It is all really rather exciting to listen to!
The most extensive work on the disc in the Faroese composer Rasmussen`s Territorial Songs (the title refers to birdsongs – more specifically birdcalls in defence of their territory). The first movement, ushered in the bells, is a torrent of birdsong on the solo recorder, rather reminiscent of Messiaen`s piano evocations of birdsongs. The misty-sounding second movement seems to evoke an eerie seascape of high cliffs, with the roosting birds making repeated plaintive calls. In the third movement the music subsides and the solo recorder converses with three flutes spatially spread out around the concert hall. The fourth movement used the tenor recorder beautifully, letting it slither around sensuously, and culminating with the fragile but haunting sound of the soloist singing the twittering of the opening, but this time the birds song is even more manic, and the music pushes the soloist`s technique to the limit. This is a striking and effective concerto, showcasing very effectively Michala Petri`s awesome talents.
In all the three concertos she performs with her customary precision, delicacy and virtuosity. I have never no doubt that the orchestra will have enjoyed the sessions, particulary letting their hair down in Chacun Son Son. Highly recommended! John Turner, Recorder Magazine Winter 2015

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