Michala Petri/Stephen Layton/Danish National Vocal Ensemble – New CD Information
New Nordic Music for Recorder and Choir
Catalogue Number: 6.220605 • UPC 747313160563 • UK Distribution via Select
Dealer Price: £8.69 Release Date November 28th 2011
UGIS PRAULINS (b.1957): The Nightingale (2010) – (After Hans Christian Andersen)
Introduction: Emperor’s Garden; Nightingale Theme; Emperor and Gentleman-in-waiting; In the Quest; ”There she is…”; At the Palace; The Artificial Bird; The Emperor and The Death; Reprise
DANIEL BÖRTZ (b.1939): Nemesis divina (2006) Text: Carl von Linné
SUNLEIF RASMUSSEN (b.1961):”I” (2011) Text: Inger Christensen
PETER BRUUN (b.1968): 2 scenes with Skylark (2011) – Text: Gerard Manley Hopkins
The Sea and the Skylark; The Caged Skylark
• All World Premiere Recordings
• Four modern masters explore the musical possibilities of combining the Recorder and choir
• Featuring the virtuoso Danish National Vocal Ensemble under the direction of Stephen Layton
• Recorded in state-of-the-art Super Audio Sound
The “idea” of combining the recorder with a choir is certainly nothing new; the recorder has joined the human voice in song for almost as long as the instrument has existed. The recorder is in a sense the closest instrument to the human voice, producing a pure sound without mechanisms, reeds or elaborate mouthpieces to alter the tone. However, until recently, few contemporary composers have explored the expressive potential that this combination can deliver.
A recurring theme of each of the four highly personal and distinctive works on this program is a contemplation of nature and humanity. Beginning with Latvian composer Ugis Praulins magical adaptation of Andersen’s beloved fairy tale, we traverse the darker realms of the human heart in Sunleif Rasmussen’s setting of Inger Christensen’s confessional response to Wallace Steven’s “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird.” Young Danish composer Peter Bruun provides us a glimpse into Gerard Manley Hopkins secretive mysticism while Daniel Börtz, dean of Swedish composers, holds us rapt in adoration as his celestial angel-bird soars above the extraordinary virtuoso singing of the Danish National Vocal Ensemble.
Once again, Michala Petri has proven herself not only the unquestioned master of the recorder, but her visionary approach to programming and commitment to expanding her instrument’s repertoire into the 21st century make this an absolutely essential disc for fans of Michala, choral music, Nordic composers, and contemporary music with a HEART as well as with a “system.”
“It also goes without saying that Michala Petri has no peer today as a master of her instrument, and she wrings more color and expressive intensity from the recorder than you ever believed possible.” – David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com
Born in Copenhagen 7th of July 1958, Michala Petri began playing the recorder at the age of three and was first heard on Danish Radio when she was five. Her concert debut took place at the Tivoli Concert Hall in 1969, the year she began her studies with Professor Ferdinand Conrad at the Hochschule für Musik und Theater in Hannover. Since then she has toured extensively throughout the world, performing with musicians such as Pinchas Zukerman, James Galway, Joshua Bell, Maurice André, Keith Jarrett, Gidon Kremer and Claudio Abbado and as soloist with many of the world’s major chamber and symphony orchestras. In addition to maintaining a vigorous performing schedule, Michala Petri has produced a large and eclectic catalogue of award winning recordings, including two Deutsche Schallplattenpreis winning discs of Vivaldi Concerti, with Vladimir Spivakov and the Moscow Virtuosi (1997), and Kreisler Inspirations with Lars Hannibal (2002), the Grammy® nominated Movements, two discs of Bach and Handel Sonatas with Keith Jarrett and the critically acclaimed Los Angeles Street Concerto: Michala Petri plays Thomas Koppel, which received the Danish Music Award as Best Classical Album in 2006.
In 1992 she formed a duo with Danish guitarist and lute player Lars Hannibal, with whom she tours all over the world. In 2006 the two musicians launched the record label OUR Recordings. The new label was established with the purpose of providing the artists with an independent platform for their continuing artistic explorations, free from stylistic or commercial constraints. With more than a dozen releases to date, the OUR Recordings catalogue has embraced World Music (Siesta and Spirits), the standard repertoire (Virtuoso Baroque; Mozart Flute Quartets; Melodies; Giuliani works for Violin and Guitar and Lalo’s Symphonie Espagnole), classical rarities (Café Vienna), contemporary concertos, including the Grammy® nominated Movements and the on-going East meets West series (Dialogue and Chinese Recorder Concertos).
Through her distinguished career Michala Petri has received many honors, including the Wilhelm Hansen Music Prize (1998) and the H.C. Lumbye Prize (1998) for her achievement in bringing classical music to a wider audience. In 2000 Michala Petri received the prestigious Sonning Music Prize, (previous recipients included Stravinsky, Bernstein, Britten, Shostakovich, Menuhin and Miles Davis).
Michala is Vice-president of the Danish Cancer Society and an Ambassador for UNICEF, Denmark.
Conductor Stephen Layton was born 1966, the son of a church organist. As a child, he was a chorister at Winchester Cathedral, and received scholarships to Eton College and later King’s College, Cambridge as an organ scholar. In 1986, while still a student, Layton founded the mixed-voice choir Polyphony and in 1993 he was appointed the musical director of the Holst Singers.
Layton’s subsequent appointments include principal guest conductor of the Danish National Choir (1999), chief conductor of the Netherlands Chamber Choir (2002), Fellow and Director of Music of Trinity College, Cambridge (2006) and Artistic Director and Principal Conductor of the City of London Sinfonia (2010).
Layton guest conducts widely and has worked with the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Minnesota Orchestra, the London Philharmonic Orchestra, the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, the Academy of Ancient Music, the English Chamber Orchestra, the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, the Irish Chamber Orchestra and the Australian Chamber Orchestra. A champion of new music, Layton has premiered new repertoire by many composers, including Arvo Pärt, Thomas Ades, James Macmillan, John Tavener, Colin Matthews, Morten Lauridsen and Ugis Praulins.
Stephen Layton’s eclectic discography encompasses a vast range of repertoire, composers and genres, and has received numerous awards, including Gramophone Award and the Diapason d’Or in France for best choral disc, two Grammy Nominations and the Spanish CD Compact Award.
In January 2007 the choral landscape in Denmark was radically changed when DR (Danmarks Radio) unveiled an ambitious project: the launch of the newly established Danish National Vocal Ensemble. The new ensemble consists of a core membership of 18 singers, however when the music so requires, they are joined by their colleagues in the Danish National Choir/DR.
The Danish National Vocal Ensemble is fast establishing themselves as one of the world’s most innovative choral groups, offering creative, thematic programming. The unique philosophy of having a flexible membership has opened up a wide range of repertoire and performing possibilities, focusing increasingly on the masterworks of the Baroque and contemporary works by Danish and Nordic composers.
The choir has sung opera at the Royal Opera as well as sacred music from the Baroque with Concerto Copenhagen, and has toured Europe performing with several continental orchestras, including the NDR Orchestra in Hamburg, the Malmö Symphony Orchestra and the Bergen Philharmonic. While their primary base of operation is Copenhagen, the choir has toured extensively throughout Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Germany and Poland, as well as giving concerts in London and St. Petersburg. Prior to their recent restructuring, the Danish National Vocal Ensemble performed under the direction of Stephen Layton from 1999- 2011 and as of May 2011, Olof Boman has assumed leadership as the ensemble’s principle conductor.
As usual, just let me know which samples you would like and I’ll mail on a first come, first served basis.
Interviews can be arranged with Michala Petri, the four composers and possibly Stephen Layton if you are interested.
I look forward to hearing from you shortly. Review copies are available now.