The Large and the Small
Danish Concertos for Recorder and Organ

The combination of one of the largest musical instruments and one of the smallest musical instruments shouldn’t work. The former, the organ, which is large enough in most institutions to require its own building, and the latter, the recorder, which can slip into your pocket, just seems like it shouldn’t work. In this new recording, however, by the Doppler Duo of Danish concertos for the two instruments, we can hear the miracle of a new instrumental combination. The Duo says that ‘the unexpected combination of what is perhaps the world’s oldest, most primitive instrument, a carved wooden flute, with what might be the world’s most cultivated instrument, an enormous pipe organ, is not as far-fetched as it may seem’ and so we shall hear.

The Doppler Duo is made up of Monica Schmidt Andersen on the recorder and Tina Chistiansen on the organ. Each brings soloist qualities to their duo performance.

The Doppler Duo

The Doppler Duo © Ronni Kot Wenzell

The four pieces on the recording were written between 1991 and 2022, and each exploits the duo’s unique quality.

Thomas Koppel (1944–2006) wrote Moonchild’s Dream for recorder virtuoso Michala Petri, and depicts the life of a working-class child from Copenhagen’s dreams against the dark background of the organ. The composer saw the recorder rising ‘like a woodlark in defiance of a threatening black sky.’

Monica Schmidt Andersen was at Petri’s premiere of the work at Koppel’s memorial concert, performed with the Odense Symfoniorkester. This version for recorder and organ was arranged by Erik Kolind.

Martin Lohse (1971) uses the instruments in his Concerto for Recorder and Organ to play with rhythm. Melodic development is a product of pitch and register rather than colour. Many listeners say that the combination of the low voice of the recorder and the organ often leaves them unsure of which instrument is playing.

Sounding more like a Vivaldi concerto than any modern music, the concerto also ushers in music that may be more modernly familiar, such as the fifth movement’s Siciliano combination of John Williams’ Harry Potter music with a bit of Bernstein from West Side Story.

Martin Lohse: Concerto for Recorder and Organ – V. Siciliano

Thomas Clausen (1949) wrote his Concertino for Recorder and Organ in 2014 for Michala Petri, and, even in its modern jazz sound, seems to be mixing in Baroque and Classical elements from Bach, Handel, and Mozart. The second movement Largo goes back to a Baroque-style descending lament bass, with the recorder above it in flights of ornamentation and improvisation.

Lars Kristian Hansen (1949) wrote his 2017 work Blue Orbit: Concerto for soprano recorder and organ for the Doppler Duo, and the ensemble gave the work its premiere at a concert in 2019 in honor of the composer. Despite the classical movement titles such as Ouverture and Courante, the addition of blues notes in the melodic line makes the work definitely modern.

Lars Kristian Hansen: Blue Orbit – IV. Exitus

This recording is particularly exciting for bringing us two instruments that we can hear in a new way. We’re used to the recorder flying above the lower instruments, but to be able to lose its timbre in the organ is a new experience. Each member of the Duo has her own role, but in combination, they bring us music that’s greater than its parts. Obviously, the skill of the recording engineer has to come to the fore here as well due to the vast difference in size and performing space of the two instruments, and for that, we are grateful.

Danish Concertos for Recorder and Organ Album by Doppler Duo, Monica Schmidt Andersen, and Tina Christiansen

The Doppler Duo
Danish Concertos For Recorder and Organ
Svitzer Music
Release date: 19 April 2024

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