Despite a late start in his career, Clas Pehrsson managed to become one of the leading recorder players from Scandinavia. He is largely self-taught and one of a small number of recorder players to regularly perform both early and modern works. He is also one of the more prolific in the recording studio, with well over 30 recordings to his credit. And in a world often associated with starched collars and dead-serious performance practices, he has demonstrated a somewhat self-effacing sense of humor, as evidenced by his pose on the cover of his BIS CD, Clas Pehrsson Performs Modern Recorder Music, wherein he is seated at a table, silverware in hand, about to dine on several recorders! Pehrsson has regularly concertized from the mid-'60s, mainly as a recitalist and chamber player, though he has also appeared as a soloist with orchestra. Pehrsson has performed as a member of the trio Musica Intima and in the recorder quintet he founded, Musica Dolce. He has concertized throughout Europe and the U.S. and recorded exclusively for the BIS label.
Clas Pehrsson was born in Stockholm, Sweden, in 1942. He studied the violin and viola early on, but by the early '60s he had decided to play the recorder, an instrument he mainly learned on his own. He had later studies in early music performance practices with Nicolas Harnoncourt, Ferdinand Conrad, and Hans-Martin Linde.
In 1965 Pehrsson began teaching recorder performance at the University College of Music in Stockholm. But he was also active on the concert stage throughout the 1960s. In 1969 he founded Musica Dolce and has since served as music director.
By the 1970s he was making headway on the international scene with such efforts as a 1975 BIS LP simply entitled Clas Pehrsson, which featured him with Musica Dolce in works by Telemann, A. Scarlatti, Heinichen, and Boismortier. 1975 was also the year Pehrsson founded the Swedish Recorder Teachers' Society.
Around this time, he was delving into contemporary works by Hans-Martin Linde (Amarilli, mia bella, from 1971), Makoto Shinohara (Fragmente for Recorder, 1973), and many others. Pehrsson was also increasing the scope of his repertory in more mainstream ways, as with his 1979 BIS LP Recorder & Guitar, which featured a collection of works by Dowland, Ferrabosco, Milano, Ortiz, and others, with guitarist Cecilia Peijel. By the 1980s Pehrsson was a major presence on the international scene. He received high praise for his October 1985 appearance in Carnegie Hall with the Drottningholm Baroque Ensemble in performances of Sammartini's Concerto in F and Johan Helmich Roman's Drottningholms-musiquen suite.
Pehrsson was especially busy in the recording studio for BIS in the 1990s. In 1994 alone three volumes of the complete recorder music of Telemann were issued. In the new century Pehrsson remained active on the concert stage, and while recordings continued to appear, they have largely been reissues, as with the 2011 six-CD BIS collection of the recorder music of Telemann featuring Pehrsson and a host of other artists.