Although a disc covering nearly eighty minutes of "World Premiere Recordings" for recorder might seem to deter sustained interest, with the ever-lustrous Michala Petri as soloist and the English Chamber Orchestra, under Okko Kamu's sympathetic leadership, this compilation is surprisingly captivating. The works span the last thirty years, as well as an eclectic group of composers, the youngest being Thomas Koppel (b. 1944), whose hauntingly lyrical Concerto for Recorder and Orchestra ("Moonchild's Dream"), the absolute highlight of this collection, is dedicated to Ms. Petri, and the eldest, Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996), whose evocative Concerto for Recorder, String Orchestra, Celeste and Vibraphone, Op. 122, also written for her, is a very close second best.
The three other compositions, all written for Petri, are varied and colorful, fully showcasing the artist's incredible virtuosity and emotional scope. Gary Kulesha (b. 1954) brings to his Concerto for Recorder and Small Orchestra an appealing frisson of sensuality, mystery and tense, brooding darkness. By comparison, the Dance Suite, Op. 29, for Soprano Recorder and String Orchestra of Asger Lund Christiansen (1927-1998) is congenial, light-hearted and beguiling, with a particularly beautiful duet between recorder and violin in the third movement Moderato. The concluding Concerto for Recorder and Orchestra, Op. 133 by Malcolm Arnold (b. 1921), as one might expect, is expertly crafted and displays all the jocular earmarks of the composer.
No caveats at all about this exceptionally rare and rewarding CD, about Michala Petri's amazing, fluid talent, or about the brilliant, realistic sound.
[Running time: 77:53]