CORELLI La Follia
It’s rare to experience the level of artistic rapport heard on this recording from the Danish recorder player Michala Petri and Iranian-born harpsichordist Mahan Esfahani. Corelli’s Op 5 provides the framework for a remarkable demonstration of not only the rich, idiomatic possibilities for transcription from violin to recorder but, significantly, the extraordinary levels of dialogue (trs 1 and 15) and genuine inspiration of the moment it inspires.
In Petri’s capable hands, the recorder becomes a medium through which she conveys a more vocal interpretation of thematic material than ever a violin could. From Corelli’s logical, elegant bass-lines, Esfahani crafts the most imaginative and engaging accompaniments and repartee I have ever heard, each phrase, section and movement a skilful and stylish response (trs 1 and 14), to which he brings an astonishing range of techniques (trs 8 and 9) and instrumental colour (trs 13, 17 and 19). The musical chemistry between the two musicians is palpable and most evident in the quick exchanges in the faster movements (trs 5, 9, 11 and 20). While there are moments of both sublime simplicity and compelling declamation (tr 12), equally there is joyfulness and banter. Together, Petri and Esfahani take the application of ornamentation to new levels of sophistication (trs 2, 3 and 16), exploring the implications of the music itself, commenting and reflecting on it by they way they choose to embellish repeats and points of imitation.
This is a recording that will repay repeated listening as a masterclass in musical collaboration. It breaks new and higher ground.