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Michala Petri

Michala Petri: The Complete RCA Album Collection


The renaissance of the recorder in the 20th century was a significant chapter in the instrument’s history. Its beautiful Baroque repertoire was rediscovered just as a new generation of composers began exploring its capabilities. Danish recorder virtuoso Michala Petri has long been at the forefront of this revival. She has made Baroque sonatas and concertos her own, premiered exciting new works and arrangements, and forged some groundbreaking partnerships. Her complete recordings for RCA, released between 1987 and 2001, are now reissued in a 17-CD set from Sony Classical.

Perhaps her most eye-catching collaboration has been with jazz legend Keith Jarrett, who played harspichord on two CDs with Petri in the early 1990s. Gramophone noted the “marvellous freedom” of Petri’s playing on the Handel disc and the “close rapport” the performers share, with no need of support from a continuo instrument. “Their fresh-faced account of these sonatas merits a place in any collection,” said the same magazine of their Bach.

But her most enduring creative partnership has been with her husband, the guitarist and lutenist Lars Hannibal. The couple have performed a wide range of music together, from Baroque sonatas to their own innovative arrangements of music by composers as diverse as Schubert, Rachmaninoff and Satie. Three period-spanning albums of Petri-Hannibal collaborations are included in this set.

Contemporary music makes a notable appearance on The Modern Recorder, performed by the Petri Trio, as well as Moonchild’s Dream, with the English Chamber Orchestra and conductor Okko Kamu – “a beauty” of an album (Classical.net) that contains five world premiere recordings from composers including Thomas Koppell, Vagn Holmboe and Malcolm Arnold. Other albums also highlight Petri’s affinity with the music of Scandinavia: Grieg is the focus of an entire disc, while another includes music by the likes of Alfvén and Nielsen.

Of course, the Baroque repertoire is not neglected. An early Petri Trio album contains a selection of virtuoso work, while Telemann, Albinoni and Vivaldi are well represented elsewhere. In pride of place is her landmark recording of The Four Seasons in her own transcription: an account of a familiar work that, according to Gramophone, “could hardly be more distinctive”.