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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

Review


Anders Koppel: String Quartets and Mezzo Saxophone Quintet

15 September 2011  Audiophile Audition
Robert Moon

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 move."

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/





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