Herman D. Koppel, Benjamin Koppel: Works for cello and piano
21 October 2011
The arrival of this CD at the top of the review heap was felicitous. I had
just completed a review of Anders Koppel's three concertos on another Dacapo
disc. Herman was the father, Anders the son and Benjamin the grandson.
Ternio - meaning three of a kind - is a three movement cello sonata
except by name. It is a tour de force for both players with the music
driven forward by resolution and adrenaline. It often blasts along. The idiom
is tonal and the narrative is dramatic. It dates from just before Koppel's
cello concerto. His tempests are Beethovenian in character with grandeur not in
short supply. This is well worth the attention of any listener or indeed any
cellist. Composer parallels are always crude approximations - here perhaps
Prokofiev will give you some very rough idea of Koppel's soundworld.
The 1971 Introduction, Theme with Variations and Epilogue for solo cello
is packed across its ten minutes duration with bristling invention. Again
it's characteristically impressive. This burred tonal music could easily stand
alongside Kodaly's solo cello sonata. The performance gives every appearance of
being utterly committed with Zeuthen's breathing captured in what is a closely
The three movement Cello Sonata was written just prior to a tour of the USSR
made with the cellist Erling Blondahl Bengtsson. It's a work in the same idiom
as Ternio. It's unfalteringly serious, sturdy, blazingly grand and
brilliant - a grown-up Cello Sonata.
Grandson Benjamin Koppel has written cello music for the jazz ensemble Mad Cows
Sing so when asked to write a piece specially for this disc the task was not
alien. The result between Koppel and Zeuthen is serious, effortful, dramatic.
It grippingly engages the attention span at very close quarters.
One of the many treasures in Dacapo's catalogue.
Two Koppels in music that is unflinchingly serious and gripping.