The Artistry of Clas Pehrsson. Clas Pehrsson plays eight different recorders. Accompaniments: Cecilia Peijel, guitar and alto guitar; Solveig Faringer, soprano (Tr. 9-11); Jörgen Rörby, lute (Tr. 9-11).
Recorded at Wik Castle, Sweden, by Robert von Bahr, in February, March and May 1979 (Tr. 1-8) and January 1974 (Tr. 9-11). Originally published on LP. This CD compilation released in 1994 as BIS CD-135. Total playing time: 65'32".
Recitals for the recorder are not for everyone (limited range, shrill high notes etc.), but this BIS re-issue has everything going for it. Take, first, the superb engineering by Robert von Bahr. Whereas recorder issues on other labels (I'm thinking particularly of some I have heard recently on ASV Gaudeamus, Hyperion and Titanic) tend to place the recorder so starkly in the foreground that it can hurt the ears, BIS have placed their two microphones at an ideal distance, capturing all the nuances of the playing, but at the same time never making the instrument sound over-present or shrill (even on the one track where Pehrsson plays a sopranino - thank God he didn't attempt to fill a whole disc with that enervating sound!). These are analogue recordings from the 70's, but the sound quality is considerably better than many a less well-engineered digital recording.
Then there is the playing. Clas Pehrsson himself is a man of great musicality, and he seems able both to reproduce recorder music with the greatest ease and to avoid attracting the limelight by any kind of showy virtuosity. He brings the music alive, lets you hear his superb range of recorders (from sopranino right down to sub-contrabass, an amazing sound!), and it is only after you have finished listening that you realize what a wonderful player you have just been listening to. The first eight tracks, recorded in 1979, were made together with guitarist Cecilia Peijel, who gets Tracks 2 and 4 as solo pieces. She plays not only a modern classical guitar, but also an alto guitar with eleven strings, tuned to G and sounding a little like a lute. The idea of accompanying pieces such as the sonatas by Telemann and Handel on a guitar may seem a little strange, but I feel that the sonic results prove that the BIS team were correct in their decision. The older pieces at the end of the disc (12th to 15th century) are accompanied by a lute, while mezzo-soprano Solveig Faringer sings either the traditional texts or just to "Ah". All in all a fascinating recital, and I can't thank BIS enough for keeping this and all their other excellent recordings available.