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The Recorder Magazine (UK) - Michala Petri`s playing, it goes without saying, is impeccable and her music interpretation vivid.

April 30, 2013

Andrew Mayes

The Recorder Magazine (UK) on English Recorder Concertos
OUR Recordings 6.220606 (SACD)

Described in the liner notes as " A new concerto for the Harry Potter generation", Richard Harvey`s "Concerto Incantato" certainly cast a musical spell from its opening bars. It was composed for Michala Petri and commisioned by Leanne Nicholls for the City Chamber Orchestra of Hong Kong`s tenth anniversary concert in 2009. It is a substantial Work in five contrasting movements about 30 minutes and is firmly in the harmonic and melodic mainstream. Harvey is a recorder virtuoso in his own right and an award-winning composer for film and television. It is therefore no surprise that this work not only contains testing yet perfectly idiomatic writing for recorder, but also a wealth of colourful and appealing music. The first movement, "Sortilegio" (Sorcery), in which the sopranino, soprano and treble recorder interplay with the orchestra are an integral part of its sparkling textures, leads into the very contrasting "Nature Morta" (Still Life) where the tenor recorder sings a rather wistful song over the husted accompaniment. This atmosphere is abruptly dispersed by the third movement " Danza Spiriti" ( Dance of the spirits), a will-o`- the wisp scherzo of considerable energy. The fourth movement "Canzone Sacra" (Sacred Song) restores a contemplative mood and features a haunting humn-like melody for treble recorder. Soprano recorder arpeggios introduce the fifth movement "Incantesimi" (Spells) before a lively Renaissance-style dance emerges, the course of which is interrupted by touching restatement of the previous movement`s melody. However, a return to the dance brings this spell-binding concerto to a brilliant conclusion.
Sir Malcolm Arnold`s "Concerto for Recorder and Orchestra" OP.133 was written for Michala Petri in 1988 in a final period of compositional activity. Some of his late works display a sparseness of texture which in the case of the Recorder Concerto is a distinct contributory factor in achieving a balance between soloist and the orchestra containing brass and woodwind in addition to the strings.The first and third movement of the three movements are virtuosic yet scherzo-like, and it is the Lento middle movement that carries the emotional weight of the work. It takes the form of a passacaglia and captures a very semilar mood to that of the Chaconna in his “Sonatina” for recorder composed thirty-five years earlier, a perfect foil to the music of the outer movements, particularly the march-like character of the finale.
Composed for Carl Dolmetsch towards the end of 1957 and first performed by him in January 1958, Gordon Jacob`s Suite for treble recorder and strings received immediate critical acclaim. In a period of changing musical tastes it is a Work that has retained its place in the recorder repertoire and rightfully so - it is a masterpiece, perfectly written for the instrument. The sheer ebullience of its quick movements and the yearning yet warm music of the "Lament" and "Pavane" continue to captivate players and audience alike. It was during the early 1980s that Michala Petri took the Suite into her repertoire (and memorable recorded it) and contacted the composer to seek his advise on performance. Their meeting inspired Jacob to compose and dedicate his last Work for recorder, the "Sonatina" to her.
This is a first-rate disc; recording and visual presentation are impressive, the orchestral playing decisive yet sympathetic and the three Works form a wonderfully contrasted programme. Michala Petri`s playing, it goes without saying, is impeccable and her music interpretation vivid.
May 2013 Andrew Mayes