Anders Koppel: String Quartets and Mezzo Saxophone Quintet
15 September 2011
The prolific Danish composer Anders Koppel (b.1947) has his roots in
classical, jazz, rock and folk music. The son of composer and pianist
Herman D. Koppel, he started piano at age 4 and at 14 played the
clarinet in several television and concert appearances. In 1967, with
his brother Thomas, he founded ‘Savage Rose,' a rock band that toured
for seven years, recording 7 albums. In the 1976 he co-founded the world
music trio ‘Bazaar' that still performs regularly. In the 1980s he
composed music for 50 theatrical plays, over 100 film scores, and 8
ballets. Since the early 1990s he's composed over 100 works for
classical ensembles - chamber music, opera, orchestra, vocal, and 23
concertos. His First Marimba Concerto has been performed over
300 times. He's served as composer in residence for two orchestras - the
Odense Symphony Orchestra and the Aalborg Symphony.
Koppel is one of many composers whose diverse background enables them
to write music that synthesizes many styles into their own unique
statement that appeals to audiences with diverse musical preferences.
His First String Quartet (1997) begins with attention-getting
glissando slides, motoric rhythms, a klezmer-like tango, and a pizzacato
strumming cello. The following contemplative Lento echoes Bartok in one
of his darker, nocturnal moods, ending with a beautiful melody of
resolve. The lively frenetically spooky finale integrates minimalism,
jazz and a fugue - exhilarating!
The programmatic Quartet No. 2 (2002) is serious, heartfelt
and cosmically lovely. The composer writes that it "is inspired by the
host of stars that appear above your head on an August night...and about
the thoughts of time, eternity and the now that this sight can spark
off." An ethereal second movement glides from planet to planet, unified
by delicate pizzacatos. The agitated finale brings us down to earth,
reminding us of the "dizzying speed at which ...our planet and our life
The mezzo saxophone in the Quintet for Mezzo Saxophone and String Quartet
(2008) unites the slight sound of the soprano sax with the depth of the
alto sax. Its silky sonority adds depth and variety to the complexity
of the string quartet. The opening section of the first movement is
mischievously care-free, then mysterious. The mood shifts radically in
the second movement to one of melancholy, as a journey of a coffin in a
boat drifting to a remote island is depicted - inspired by Arnold
Bocklin's painting, Isle of the Dead. Yet Koppel uses the
rhythm of a slow dance that adds an ethereal beauty to the scene.
There's a jazzy sexiness in the joyous finale, as the saxophone takes
center stage for the rollicking conclusion.
Kudos to saxophonist Benjamin Koppel (the composer's son) and the
Sjaelland String Quartet for idiomatic and flawless performances in
riveting sound. This is a magnificent disc that demonstrates how
ingratiating and fresh new music can be. Don't miss it!
Read more: http://audaud.com/2011/09/anders-koppel-string-quartets-quintet-dacapo/