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The Arts Desk (UK) "- the three players dancing as one".

January 30, 2021

Graham Rickson

The Arts Desk (UK)

Bach: Sonatas for recorder, harpsichord and viola da gamba Michala Petri (recorder), Hille Perl (viola da gamba), Mahan Esfahani (harpsichord) (OUR Recordings)
That these sonatas were originally composed by Bach for flute is surely of no consequence; Michala Petri’s affectionate, idiomatic performances on alto and tenor recorders convince from the outset. Importantly, she doesn’t attempt to impersonate a baroque flute, playing these sonatas as if they were written for her instrument. Petri’s sparing use of vibrato feels just right and she’s marvellous in Bach’s extended slow movements. Particularly successful are the two sonatas performed on a woody tenor recorder – the “Largo e dolce” of the BWV 1032, transposed down a tone to G major, is exquisite, Mahan Esfahani and viola de gamba player Hille Perl providing sensitive, thoughtful support. And then you shift to the 3/8 finale, the three players dancing as one.
So many passages enchant. Petri’s skittish cadenza over Perl’s long pedal near the close of BWV’s first movement is like baroque jazz. Or Perl’s bell-like pizzicato notes at the start of BWV’s “Andante” – the moment when she starts bowing genuinely ear-tickling. And Esfahani’s exuberant, clattering accompaniment in the last movement of BWV 1035 closes proceedings with a smile. Superb production values, as is usual with this label, the forward balance given to Petri entirely appropriate.31.01.2021 Graham Rickson

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