Thomas Koppel's "Moonchild's Dream" is a one-movement concerto for recorder and orchestra. The composer imagined a waif-like girl in the slums of Copenhagen, full of hopes and fears, and being turned, at least for a night, into a fairy princess through her imagination. The music captures (or at least is supposed to) both the harshness of her reality and the magic and fantasy of her transcendence.
Vagn Holmboe's "Concerto for Recorder, String Orchestra, Celeste and Vibraphone" opus 122 is the reason that I bought this disc way back when, along with the Arnold concerto. Upbeat and incisive, the concerto was written for Petri in 1974 and substitutes athletic energy for more romantic leanings in a most distinctive manner. In the brisk outer movements, vibraphone, celeste and soprano recorder form a separate instrumental group, reacting with the orchestral strings like a Bach concertino in a work whose behavior is otherwise thoroughly modern. In the atmospheric 'Andante e quieto', alto recorder and vibraphone weave lucid counterpoint in a texture akin to chamber music. In the finale, the tiny sopranino adds a timbre as pure and ethereal as larksong to the novel tone-color of the modern instruments; in one haunting passage, the soloist accompanies herself with a melody sung through the recorder.
The "Concerto for Recorder and Small Orchestra" by Gary Kulesha also requires vocalization through the recorder. In addition, stylized glissandi in the first movement suggest the influence of other recorder-like instruments such as the shakuhachi, the Japanese end-blown flute. Thrusting and restless, Kulesha's concerto begins with a stern passacaglia in which cellos and basses repeat a short, trenchant figure against longer, hypnotic phrases for the soloist, harpsichord, and marimba, building inexorably to a climax in which tensions are dispersed, yet left unresolved. The slow movement adds further suspense; though the central event is a radiant episode for consoling alto recorder and high strings, a prelude of dark recitatives and a throbbing conclusion of repeated notes on the viola maintain a hostile agenda that can be answered only in the violence of the finale. Briefly calming the tempest, frantic sopranino and brittle marimba race to a cadenza. The ending reviews the opening bars of the concerto, but they remain no less enigmatic than when they were heard the first time.
This is good stuff imo...
In contrast, the five miniatures of Asger Lund Christiansen's "Dance Suite" opus 29 confine the soloist to the soprano recorder while transposing modern idioms to the suite forms of the 18th century. A genuine bridge between old and new styles, the work shines with wit and elegance. It also absorbs the influence of Danish folk music, heard most distinctly in the violin duet of the third piece. Charming it is.. This suite is one of many works by Christiansen written for Michala Petri.
Malcolm Arnold's compositions for the present soloist include an unaccompanied 'Fantasy' as well as the 1988 Recorder Concerto, a brilliant example of the many such showcase works he has written for a notable list of fine executants. An orchestra of horns, strings, and oboes balances the sound of soprano recorder in the outer movements, and sopranino in the nostalgic 'Lento'. Though Arnold mysteriously describes the first movement as being "in sonata form, with very special bits for Michala", all the material seems to bear the hallmarks of his own ebullient personality. Jester, poet and acrobat by turns, the recorder shows it's mastery of situations in a perfectly crafted solo part. Fizzing with arpeggios, the concerto's last movement, a riotous gigue, brings the concerto to a high-spirited conclusion. Enjoy..........