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Dacapo - The National Music Anthology of Denmark

Format:  SACD

Catalogue Number:  6.220566

Barcode:  747313156665

Release Date:  May 2011

Period:  Late 20th Century, Late 20th Century, 21st Century


Anders Koppel: Strygekvartetter og mezzosaxofon-kvintet

24 June 2011  Amazon.com
DPost (costomer review)
5/5 Stars

When I received this CD for review, the name Koppel rang a distant bell. It turns out that Anders Koppel is the son of pianist Herman Koppel, a name familiar to old time LP collectors for his three disc set of the complete piano music of his countryman Carl Nielsen. On the basis of this new CD from Dacapo, his son is certainly in possession of musical genes.


At hand are two string quartets, separated by eleven years and a quintet for the newly minted mezzo saxophone and string quartet. The first quartet (1997) in three movements is idiomatically written, rhythmic, propulsive, lyrical and often jazzy. The music is tonal or tonally centered and there is nothing here that will offend anyone, if anything, after a while the piece gets a bit predictable.


The second quartet, also in three movements (2008) has a more ethereal character. The composer states that the piece was "inspired by the host of stars that appear above your head on an August night." The second movement even depicts different planets by different intervals which coalesce into motives which do seem to swirl around each other in some kind of orbit. The third movement is driven by non-stop, incessant triplets, yet ends quietly.


The real prize of the disc is the Quintet for mezzo sax and string quartet from 2008. The sax is played by Koppel's son Benjamin. The piece is jazzy, spicy and humorous, and reminded me of some of the very witty chamber music by Jean Francaix. In contrast to the two outer movements, the second, subtitled "Isle of the Dead", based on the painting by Bocklin and which also served as musical inspiration for Max Reger and Rachmaninoff yields a somber, dirge-like atmosphere, providing nice contrast. The last movement is a virtuosic romp for all-- jazzy, full-throated and with plenty of neat riffs for the sax. A quiet section in the middle featuring a nice duet for cello and sax gradually builds to the fireworks conclusion.


Clean, well-imaged sound supports fine performances by the Sjaelland Quartet and Benjamin Koppel. Recommended!

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