Anders Koppel: Strygekvartetter og mezzosaxofon-kvintet
24 June 2011
DPost (costomer review)
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
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!