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Format:  CD

Catalogue Number:  8.226052

Barcode:  636943608821

Release Date:  May 2011

Period:  21st Century


Anders Koppel: Concertos

01 November 2011  Gramophone
David Fanning

Son of Hermann D. Koppel (known to specialist collectors as both pianist and respectable composer), Anders Koppel is an engaging figure on the Danish scene. He has found his way through experimentalism and rock back to something not so far removed from his father's neo-classicism, at least if these three concertante works from the first decade of the 21st century are at all representative. They may be comparatively modest in their demands on players and listener but they are by no means trivial. High-class contemporary gebrauchsmusik is their niche, and there is no backhandedness intended in that compliment.

The Sinfonia concertante is rooted in the asperity of Stravinsky's octet, Violin Concerto, Ebony Concerto and so on. Lacking their fiendish glee, irony and concentration, it is nevertheless attractively scored and manages to think effectively on its feet.

For all its apparently arcadian scoring, the Concerto for Flute and Harp touches greater depths, and not only in the Elegia. The preceding, Griegian Intermezzo could happily find its place as the soundtrack to a wistful 1950s French film, while the finale brings in antique cymbals and slide whistle without suspicion of gimmickry or even incongruity.

The Tuba Concerto may have none of the aspirations of a major work such as Kalevi Aho's Concerto (2007), and it makes none of the Finn's excessive demands on the instrument. But it is by no means entirely predictable, despite frequent glances at the conventional buffoonery of the genre. A short misterioso interlude nestles in neatly between the more playful outer movements.

By the end of the disc I did find that Koppel's compulsion to return to the tonic triad was beginning to pall, and I would love to hear him stretch his talents to more ambitious projects. But the beautifully performed, admirably recorded works still make a more than welcome introduction to his art.

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