Anders Koppel: Concertos
01 November 2011
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.
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.