Michala Petri — Brazilian Landscapes
July 9, 2018 (No Comments) by
Michala Petri

Michala Petri

It has been some time since these recordings hit my desk and I should have produced a review long before this. To be honest, however, I have been procrastinating. It has been some time since Flute Journal has launched into the recorder world, determined to break down one more barrier.  We have argued the case for the recorder as a flute, featured Piers Adams and Sophie Westbrookbut, so far, have failed to introduce the undisputed doyen of recorder artists, the Danish maestro, Michala Petri.

Michala Petri & Peter Westbrook

Michala Petri & Peter Westbrook

It has been over a year since I met Ms. Petri at the British Recorder Society’s annual convention in Cambridge where I had the opportunity to chat with her and  to watch her perform both in concert and, close up, in one of the classrooms where she was trying out some new recorders, enabling me to witness her astonishingly effortless technique close up.

I have enjoyed Ms. Petri’s CDs for many years, beginning with her recordings ofthe Bach and Handel sonatas with Keith Jarrett, and from there into further exploring the baroque repertoire. But
Michala-5my recent exposure to her work on this level was such that, rather than rush into print with effusive praise, I found myself overwhelmed by her catalog of recordings which number over 70 and cover a range of genres with a level of quality that would be the envy of artists with a catalog a fraction of the size. A complete retrospective of her work (so far – she has much more to offer) is a goal for us at Flute Journal. For now, however, we have to deal with her current output.

Michala with Chen Yue

Michala with Chen Yue

And as if the work she has presented is not enough — from Bach, Handel, Telemann, Vivaldi etc. to Grieg, Gluck and Satie, to an array of contemporary works, many written expressly for her, often by Scandinavian composers (she is from Denmark) to Chinese works, duets with Chen Yue on Xiao and dizi . . . the list goes on and on — she now presents a foray into the music of Brazil.

This music is a fertile field for anyone. There should be no surprise that Ms. Petri wished to explore it. But my first reaction was, “do they have recorders in Brazil?” Indeed they do — I turned up a major recorder artist now living in the USA, Cléa Galhano, and a recorder ensemble, Quinta Essentia, that leads me to think that Brazilian recorder music is another genre again! (More on this soon.) For now, however, we have Michala’s Brazilian Landscapes.

Brazilian-LandscapesI can only say that this is a wonderful recording. Apart from her virtuosity on her instrument, Petri brings to her art a burning curiosity and great skill in research and — as should be obvious by now — an outstanding ability to adapt to all musics both far and near.

As has frequently been the case, she has been aided in this effort by her musical partner, guitarist Lars Hannibal, with whom she has concertised and recorded widely. It was Hannibal who met Brazilian guitarist Daniel Murray at a guitar conference in Vienna in 2014. Deeply impressed by his work as both instrumentalist and composer, Hannibal suggested matching Daniel with Michala and Danish/American percussionist Marilyn Mazur. Two years of thought, research and occasional meetings followed until, by December 2016, a program was ready to record. The result was, life everything else Michala touches, of the highest quality.

The idea was to put together a program of work by 19th, 20th and 21st century Brazilian composers built around the twin pillars of Heitor Villa-Lobos and Antonio Carlos Jobim, demonstrating their debt to Ernesto Nazareth and their influence on Hermeto Pascoal, Egberto Gismonti, Paulo Bellinati, Paulo Porto Alegre and Antonio Ribeiro, as well as Daniel Murray himself who contributes two pieces.

Michala with Lars Hannibal

Michala with Lars Hannibal

The resulting program has both unity and diversity – but this is the nature of  Brazilian music; it is a diverse tradition. Perhaps the name choro could be loosely applied to this genre, but choro is, itself, under constant development, and sometimes hard to define, although Villa-Lobos defined it as “the true incarnation of Brazilian soul.” Like Ragtime in the US, Tango in Argentina and Charanga in Cuba, choro comes from the interaction of European and African influences, so we can hardly question additional input from some Danish (and Danish/American) musicians.

The main thing is that the music on this recording is captivating, charming, invigorating, multi-dimensional. The recorder-guitar combination is mainstream for this genre and works perfectly, and adding Mazur was a master stroke, giving the mix a crispiness around the edges. The Brazilian essence of these composers shines through, even as the trio adds its unique sheen.

Everything Michala Petri turns to gold. She has done it again!


BRAZILIAN LANDSCAPES    Michala Petri (rcr); Daniel Murray (gtr); Marilyn Mazur (perc)

Marilyn Mazur

Marilyn Mazur

Paulo Porto Alegre (b.1953)
1: Sonhos (Dreams) (I) 

Paulo Bellinati (b.1950)
2: Jongo

Paulo Bellinati (b.1950)
3: Pingue-Pongue

Antonio Carlos Jobim (1925-1994)
4: Olha Maria (Amparo)

Daniel Murray (b.1981)
5: Cauteloso (Cauteous) 

Ernesto Nazareth

Ernesto Nazareth

Ernesto Nazareth (1863-1934)
6: Fon-Fon

Daniel Murray (b.1981)
Canção e Dança (Song and Dance)
7: Canção

8: Dança

Egberto Gismonti (b.1947)
9: Karatê

Egberto Gismonti (b.1947)
10: A Fala da Paixão (Passion talk) 

Hermeto Pascoal (b.1936)
11: São Jorge (Saint George) 

Antônio Ribeiro (b.1971)
VIII Miniaturas (VIII Miniatures) 

12: I Homenagem a Debussy  (Homage to Debussy)

13: II No Balanço (On toy swing)

14: III Dança (Dance) 

15: IV Valsa Triste (Sad Waltz) 

16: V Cirandinha (Children song)  

17: VI Modinha 

18: VII Toada 

19: VIII Final (Finale) 

Heitor Villa-Lobos

Heitor Villa-Lobos

Heitor Villa-Lobos (1887-1959)
20: Choros No 2  

Heitor Villa-Lobos (1887-1959)
21: Choros No 5
Alma Brasileira
(Brazilian soul) 

Paulo Porto Alegre (b.1953)
22: Sonhos (Dreams) (II)  


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