Sunday, 2 March 2014

Michala Petri and Anthony Newman bring us hugely attractive sonatas for recorder and basso continuo by Telemann on a new release from OUR Recordings

Michala Petri began playing the recorder at the age of three and could be heard for the first time on Danish radio by the age of five.  She made her debut as a concert soloist in 1969 at the Tivoli Concert Hall and, since then, the Danish artist has toured all the continents, and has appeared in the most famous concert halls in the world and many festivals.

Her repertoire ranges from baroque to the contemporary with many composers writing works for her. In the concert hall and on record, Michala Petri has worked with artists such as Heinz Holliger, James Galway, Gidon Kremer, Pinchas Zukerman, Claudio Abbado, Christopher Hogwood or Keith Jarrett; while ensembles such as the English Chamber Orchestra, the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields, the Swedish Chamber Orchestra, the Moscow Virtuosi, the Berlin Baroque Soloists or Kremerata Baltica have been her partners on stage or in the studio. Since 1992, Michala Petri has played with the guitarist and lutenist Lars Hannibal and has performed with him all over the world.

Over the years Michala Petri has received many honours and awards, including the German Echo Disc Award, the Léonie Sonning Music Prize, the Wilhelm Hansen Music Prize and the H.C. Lumbye Prize for her achievement in bringing classical music to a wide audience.          Michala Petri is Vice President of the Danish Society for Fighting Cancer and a board member of UNICEF Denmark.

Michala Petri’s latest recording for OUR Recordings features Telemann’s Sonatas for Recorder and Basso continuo with Petri joined by harpsichordist Anthony Newman


Of the six sonatas on this disc, the first four are from Der Getreue Musik-Meaister (The Faithful Music Master), a musical periodical (1728-29) jointly founded by Telemann featuring short compositions and lessons in the rudiments of musical theory. These are hugely attractive sonatas with some memorable tunes, especially as played by these two fine artists. The Vivace of Sonata in F major from this set is a gloriously lively piece with Michala Petri providing some lovely mellow recorder sounds, nicely balanced with the harpsichord continuo of Anthony Newman. Petri draws some lovely, fluent lines in the Largo with wonderfully expressive harpsichord accompaniment before a lively dancing Allegro with lovely sprung rhythms.

The Sonata in B flat major opens with a rather stately Largo and some terrific chords from the harpsichord with some lovely agile playing from Petri. The vibrant Allegro, where Telemann gives us such a stream of invention, receives some brilliant staccato playing from Petri before the Largo, full of affectingly melancholy sounds from Petri’s recorder. The concluding Vivace is full of infectious playing from these two artists.

The solemn Triste that opens the Sonata in F minor is given a richly conceived performance, full of broad harpsichord chords around which the recorder weaves its theme. The opening of the Allegro has a steady pace but soon becomes vibrant with some really fine playing from both artists. The Vivace is truly a performance of virtuosity with Petri showing her incredible skills of fluency and agility. This is terrific playing.

In the Sonata in C major there is a beautifully paced Cantabile that has a particularly memorable tune and an Allegro that receives more formidable playing from Petri and Newman, with these two players seemingly knowing each other’s thoughts. There is incredible agility of playing from Petri. The Grave brings more of Telemann’s broad sonorous harpsichord chords as Petri weaves her recorder melody above. The Vivace is full of invention, receiving a terrific performance.

After the four sonatas from Der Getreue Musik-Meaister come two sonatas from Esserzicii Musici (Musician’s Exercises), a misleading title as these pieces were apparently not intended as studies.

The first performed here is the Sonata in D minor with an Affettuoso that has a beguiling theme. The Presto shoots ahead with these two artists showing terrific ensemble and with more intricate playing from Petri in this quite intoxicating movement. As Newman ‘strums’ chords on his harpsichord in the third movement, Grave, Petri delivers a lovely flowing theme in this short link to the Allegro, another complete delight with simply stunning playing from Petri and Newman providing so much more than any mere accompaniment.

Finally we have the Sonata in C major with an opening movement marked Adagio that, nevertheless, has some spirited faster sections where Telemann gives us another fine tune, beautifully played. The lovely Larghetto has the recorder and harpsichord weaving the theme between them before the lively Vivace, full of terrific playing right up to the end.

These are terrific performances that receive a fine recording within a nice acoustic as well as excellent booklet notes. This release has a slightly shorter duration than most discs but given the quality of the performances and its on-line price, it is thoroughly recommendable.

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