"The ... disc reveals the stunning variety and vitality of North European choral music today. Praulins’s The Nightingale rightly leads off the program. The composer’s background in progressive and heavy-metal rock bands, Latvian folk music and ritual, film and television scoring, and Renaissance counterpoint has enabled him to produce a continuously changing tapestry of sound that nevertheless hangs together remarkably well, effortlessly expressing the fancy in the Andersen fragments. The other ... selections more than hold their own in this distinguished company. Börtz’s Nemesis divina, based on philosophic writings by the eighteenth century botanist Carl Linnaeus ... Everything was recorded in the resonant space of Copenhagen’s Christianskirken, but fortunately the acoustic enlivens the sound of the twenty-voice choir and the soloist rather than swamping them in sonic mud. The vocal soloists are drawn from the choir and do a superb job, as did conductor Layton. This was probably the single most enjoyable choral recording I encountered in 2011. One can only hope that the music will be more widely performed ..."
Lawrence Schenbeck - Choral Journal (US) - October 2012
"An essential disc of world premieres that stuns the senses and absolutely delights the ear... Despite some of the more challenging moments on this disc, it would be a crime to not acquire it..."
Steven Ritter - AudiophileAudition.com - 25 August 2012
"These are all world premiere recordings and feature the combination of Michala Petri’s flute, the Danish National Vocal Ensemble directed by Stephen Layton, and some enjoyable new music from Swedish composer Daniel Börtz, Latvian Ugis Praulins, the Dane Peter Bruun and Faroese composer Sunleif Rasmussen... Each of these composers has his own strong voice and his own way of reconciling the recorder, or recorders, with choral and/or solo voices in these settings. There is variety here, an exploration of a precise sound-world, a sensitive exploration of text and sonority, and a — never simplistic — wish to communicate with fellow performers and with listeners."
Jonathan Woolf - MusicWeb-International.com - March 2012
"...This is an unequivocal treat for connoisseurs of fine choral singing and recorder lovers alike."
Malcolm Riley - Gramophone magazine - March 2012
"You don’t find many discs of music for recorder and a capella voices. Veteran Danish virtuoso Michala Petri joins forces with a crack Danish choir in a fascinating selection of new works. The delight lies in hearing just how well the unadorned clarity of Petri’s tone blends with the vocals. Perhaps it’s less of a surprise when you’re reminded of the recorder’s purity – no valves, reeds or mouthpieces stand in the way of sound production. The main attraction here is Latvian composer Ugis Praulins’ English setting of Andersen’s The Nightingale. Praulins’ eclectic compositional style is readily accessible, encompassing fierce dissonance, speech-like chant and warm diatonic simplicity, over which Petri’s lyrical nightingale song can effortlessly soar, contrasting with the shrill staccato squeaking of the bird’s mechanical replacement. Wonderful stuff, with a radiant conclusion. Daniel Börtz’s Nemesis divina sets words by an 18th-century botanist. Most effective is the close, with the text reduced to hushed detached syllables punctuated by chirruping recorder. Faroese composer Sunleif Rasmussen’s “I” is harder to assimilate, though it’s impossible not to marvel at the fearless accuracy of the Danish National Vocal Ensemble’s singing. Peter Bruun cites his first musical influences as Spandau Ballet and Duran Duran. There’s little trace of either in his Two Scenes with Skylark, a contrasted pair of poems by Gerard Manley Hopkins. Petri excels when playing a softer-toned tenor recorder accompanying The Caged Skylark. Stephen Layton directs with style, and the disc is spectacularly engineered."
Graham Rickson - Classic Music magazine - February 2012
"Veteran Danish recorder virtuosa Michala Petri gets top billing here, but the Danish National Vocal Ensemble, under the direction of British conductor Stephen Layton, deserves at least equal billing. The main attraction is The Nightingale by Latvian composer Ugis Praulins, a work related to Pärt’s minimalist style but with a more expansive and varied treatment of the choir. It’s called upon to produce a variety of odd effects, dissolve in conversation, and execute smooth notes at extremes of range. Petri’s recorder plays a variety of roles, introducing a medieval tinge but also a cool, almost electronic-flavored sound, and also embodying the Nightingale of the text: the one from Hans Christian Andersen’s texts that have been so often set. It’s a pleasing, slightly haunting work. The other three composers, Daniel Börtz, Sunleif Rasmussen, and Peter Bruun, are from Sweden, the Faroe Islands (an amazingly fertile place musically, all things considered), and Denmark; they are more systematically structured than the Praulins work. The combination of recorder and choir is unique, and the concept, a collaboration between Petri and U.S. producer Joshua Cheek (who wrote the informative booklet notes), merits praise for sheer originality. But the best audience for this release might lie among those who enjoy the British choral sound and are looking for something connected but completely different."
James Manheim - AllMusic.com (US) - February 2012
Interpretation **** Sound Quality ***** Repertoire ****
Christian Vitalis - Klassik.com (Germany) - January 2012
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