Anders Koppel: Marimba Concertos
12 January 2015
When Anders Koppel (b1947) was part of the rock band Savage Rose I doubt he – or anyone else – would have expected him to pen four concertos for marimba. He has produced a sizeable number of concertos, such as those for saxophone recorded by his son Benjamin in 2005.
The First Marimba Concerto (1995) was written as a test piece for the Luxembourg International Percussion Competition. Two compact movements are succeeded by a much longer bravura finale which rather unbalances the structure, and in truth outstays its welcome a touch away from competitive occasions. The later ones are more satisfying musically. The string-orchestral accompaniment of the Second (2000) provides a leaner context and expressively the subject of time’s passing – suggested perhaps by the millennium – is gripping. The Third Concerto (2002, rev 2003), like the Fourth (2006), was written for the virtuoso Martin Grubinger. No 3, Linzer, is named for the Bruckner Orchestra in Linz, who premiered it, and deploys their standard late-Romantic instrumental complement. No 4, In memory of things transient, is the most varied, adding an organ into the mix in an engaging eight-movement suite occasioned by the 250th anniversary of Mozart’s birth and including quotes from Mozart, Balkan folk music and an old pop tune of Koppel’s.
The young Marianna Bednarska plays all four works – and the solo encore PS to a Concerto (1995) – with élan and is expertly supported by the Aalborg Symphony Orchestra. Dacapo’s sound is superb. Listening to this disc is a hugely enjoyable way to spend 79 minutes.