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Anders Koppel: String Quartets; Mezzo-Saxophone Quintet based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
When I received this CD for review, the name Koppel rang a distant bell. It turns out that Anders Koppel is the son of pianist Herman Koppel, a name familiar to old time LP collectors for his three-disc set of the complete piano music of his countryman Carl Nielsen. Anyway, on the evidence of this CD, his son is certainly in possession of musical genes. At hand are two string quartets separated by eleven years and a quintet for the newly minted mezzo saxophone and string quartet. The First Quartet (1997) in three movements is idiomatically written for strings, rhythmic, propulsive, lyrical and often jazzy and almost improvisatory. It is tonal or tonally centered and there is nothing here that will offend anyone, if anything, after a while the piece gets a bit predictable. The Second Quartet, also in three movements (2008) has a more etherial character. The composer states that the piece was "inspired by the host of starts that appear above your head on an August night." The second movement even depicts different planets by different intervals, which coalesce into motives which do seem to swirl around each other. The third movement is driven by non-stop incessant triplets which, surprisingly ends quietly. The real prize of the disc however is the Quintet for mezzo sax and string quartet from 2008. The sax is played by Koppel's son Benjamin, who, from the evidence here is quite accomplished. The piece is jazzy, spicy and humorous and reminded me of some of the very witty chamber music of Jean Francaix. In contrast to the two outer movements the second, subtitled "Isle of the Dead", based on the gloomy painting by Bocklin and which also served as musical inspiration for Max Reger and Rachmaninoff yields a somber, dirge-like atmosphere providing nice contrast to the outer movements. The las movement is a virtuosic romp for all--jazzy, full-throated and with plenty of neat riffs for the sax. A quiet section in the middle featuring a duet for cello and sax gradually builds to the fireworks conclusion. Clean, well-imaged sound supports fine performances by the Sjaelland Quartet and Benjamin Koppel. Well worth hearing!