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Michala Petri & Lars Hannibal
East Meets West

Michala Petri recorder
Lars Hannibal guitar
Chen Yue chinese flute
Yan Jiang pipa


Cadogan Hall, London 25 April, 2009

Michala Petri (b. 7/7/1958) has been celebrating 45 years before the public and the latest of her projects with her guitarist husband Lars Hannibalhas been a project combining Western classical and classical Chinese traditions.

A substantial audience came to enjoy a programme of short pieces, mostly traditional including a few recent compositions by Chinese and European composers, Chinese pieces and European repertoire arranged for the quartet of Xiao (Dizi), Recorder, Pipa and Guitar. To western ears the Chinese traditional music sounds rather simplistic, dominated by pentatonic tunes, interest held more by the beautiful instruments; end and side-blown flutes, and the focused tone of the delightful plectrum-played pipa.

Worth hearing again would be Cascades for the two flutes by Benjamin de Murashkin and petri's own arrangment for small recorder of her variations on a danish folk tune, with innovative virtuosity including a lot of sliding between the notes.

Presentation was unimaginative (certainly so in stark contrast with the recorder led Red Priest in the same hall last month) with music stands blocking the view of the musicians, especially of the pipa which is a delight to watch - surprising that more of the items were not given by memory? And that they all kept to their allotted places, so that for a guitar/pipa duo the musicians sat far apart from each other. Announcements (un-miked) of changed item orders were only just audible and every short piece expected applause, followed by exits and entrances with no attempt at continuity. Much better had they all stayed on stage whilst taking their turns, and organised their pieces in groups instead of expecting each and every one to be duly applauded.

Notwithstanding these reservations, it all made for a pleasant, undemanding evening. Chen Yue with Petri & Hannibal have two enjoyable CDs, Spirits and Dialogue, on their own label "OUR recordings"; see M.P's reviews.

Peter Grahame Woolf

Also, for the next few days hear Michala Petri and Lars Hannibal on BBC R3 In Tune.