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H. Koppel: Piano Concertos No 1 & 4, A. Koppel, Norgaard, Christensen: Works / Koppel, Wellejus, Danish Radio Symphony, Et Al


Release Date: 02/10/2009 
Label:  Danacord   Catalog #: 569/70   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Herman D. KoppelThomas KoppelAnders KoppelBernhard Christensen,   ... 
Performer:  Herman D. KoppelNikolaj Koppel
Conductor:  Aksel WellejusJohn SchroderAgnieszka Duczmal
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Danish Radio Symphony OrchestraOdense Symphony OrchestraSouth Jutland Symphony Orchestra,   ... 
Number of Discs: 2 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 2 Hours 9 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews



H. D. KOPPEL Piano Concertos: No. 1; 1,2,3 No. 4; 1,2,4 No 2: Movt. 3. 1,7 Paw: Suite. 2,5 Palle: March. 2,6 T. KOPPEL Visions fugitives. 1,8 A. KOPPEL Concerto Read more for Piano, Strings, and Percussion. 1,9 B. CHRISTENSEN The Twelve Tones. 1 NØRGÅRD Nine Friends 1 H. D. Koppel (pn); 1 Nikolaj Koppel (pn); 7 Aksel Wellejus, cond; 2 Jens Schrøder, cond; 8 Agnieszka Duczmal, cond; 9 Danish RSO; 3 Odense SO; 4 South Jutland S; 5 Danish R Sinfonietta; 6 Aalborg SO; 8 Amadeus CO 9 DANACORD 569 (2 CDs: 136:07)


In a country like Denmark, with quite a few musical consanguinities (the father-son teams of Langgaard and Hamerik plus the cousins Bentzon), the Koppel family approaches the dimension of a dynasty. This most recent volume in Danacord’s thoroughgoing documentation of this compositional clan’s founding father, Herman D. Koppel (1908–1998), as both composer and pianist also encompasses his two composer sons, Thomas (1944–2006) and Anders (b. 1947) as well as his grandson Nikolaj (b. 1969, here joining his grandfather in a two-piano reduction of the third movement of the latter’s second piano concerto!


Unlike his immediate contemporary Vagn Holmboe, who amalgamated a very personal language from a teeming syncretism of far-flung sources ranging from Carl Nielsen to Romanian folklore, Koppel adhered more closely to the European mainstream of neo-Classic modernism, without ever losing his essential Nordic core. It is crucial to remember that, paralleling, but never obscuring, his extensive composing efforts, Koppel was also an illustrious practicing concert pianist who introduced many of the modernist milestones for his instrument to Danish audiences. Consequently, his own instrument had to play a fructifying and cross-fertilizing role in his career as a composer, and this is why his four numbered piano concertos occupy a central place in his catalog.


This two-CD set finally gives us premiere recordings of Koppel’s first and last piano concertos in electrifying live performances by the composer himself taken from Danish Radio archives. If the compact and energetic First Concerto of 1932 shows the then unavoidable influence of Stravinsky in its motoric drive, its real counterpart is the delectable Honegger Concertino with its ironic double turns and jazzy parodistic overtones. But the true revelation of this release is the Bartókian Fourth Piano Concerto of 1963, written some 30 years after the First, when he had achieved a masterful and distinctively multifaceted synthesis of all the 20th-century masters from Nielsen to Jolivet that he had championed. This dramatically disturbing and powerfully original work must be considered one of the great Scandinavian works for the instrument of the past century. The first disc also gives us a wonderfully tuneful suite drawn from a score written for a children’s film entitled Paw , which shows the composer in a more relaxed mood, and a somewhat generic and nondescript march from another children’s film, Palle Alone in the World . These are followed by the aforementioned two-piano excerpt from Koppel’s Second Piano Concerto.


The second CD focuses on concertante works by each of the two sons, with their father showing them off to best advantage. It’s no wonder that their music sounds largely unlike that of their well-established progenitor: both the Thomas and Anders works have puckishly unpredictable characters that thrive on their stylistically magpie approach. Thomas’s 13-minute Visions fugitives of 1976 has little in common with their nominal Prokofiev models, and consists of nothing more than a nastily clangorous and hard-driving set of episodes where any concern with coherence or communicativeness goes out the window. Thankfully, in his later years Thomas mellowed considerably: e.g., his Recorder Concerto on a da capo collection.


Anders Koppel has embraced an even more eccentric bent toward unusual instrumental combinations with intermittent touches of pop and jazz: there are three marimba concertos, two for saxophone, and a double concerto for sax and accordion, all very listener-friendly and expertly put together. This ambitious five-movement Concerto for Piano, Strings, and Percussion, dating from 1993, displays an aggressive eclecticism verging from quasi-pointillistic atonality to folk-music exuberance; the lengthy finale is especially engaging.


The program closes with two solo piano works: a fascinating and convoluted passacaglia (subtitled “Variations on an ostinato bass built on 12 tones”) named The Twelve Tones by Herman Koppel’s friend and contemporary Bernhard Christensen (1906–2004), whose music would seem to warrant further exposure on disc. This is followed by a set of portraits of Nine Friends by the prominent Danish modernist Per Nørgård (b. 1932). This may sound like an idea similar to Virgil Thomson’s, but these lack the charm and pointedness of the American’s and are typical of Nørgård’s enigmatic manner.


No one interested in 20th-century piano repertoire and/or Scandinavian modernism should be without this fifth volume in Danacord’s worthy Koppel series. Volume 6 promises first recordings of his stupendous Requiem and the two concertinos for string orchestra. Another important gap in the 20th-century recorded discography is filled by this seminal release.


FANFARE: Paul A. Snook
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Works on This Recording

1.
Concerto for Piano no 1, Op. 13: 1st movement, Allegro moderato by Herman D. Koppel
Performer:  Herman D. Koppel (Piano)
Conductor:  Aksel Wellejus
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Danish Radio Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: Denmark 
Length: 7 Minutes 53 Secs. 
Notes: Composition written: Denmark (1931 - 1932). 
2.
Concerto for Piano no 1, Op. 13: 2nd movement, Andante quieto-Allegro by Herman D. Koppel
Performer:  Herman D. Koppel (Piano)
Conductor:  Aksel Wellejus
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Danish Radio Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: Denmark 
Length: 12 Minutes 40 Secs. 
Notes: Composition written: Denmark (1931 - 1932). 
3.
Piano Concerto no 4, Op. 69: 1st movement, Allegro by Herman D. Koppel
Performer:  Herman D. Koppel (Piano)
Conductor:  Aksel Wellejus
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Odense Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: Denmark 
Length: 6 Minutes 38 Secs. 
Notes: Composition written: Denmark (1960 - 1963). 
4.
Piano Concerto no 4, Op. 69: 2nd movement Andante tranquillo by Herman D. Koppel
Performer:  Herman D. Koppel (Piano)
Conductor:  Aksel Wellejus
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Odense Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: Denmark 
Length: 7 Minutes 53 Secs. 
Notes: Composition written: Denmark (1960 - 1963). 
5.
Piano Concerto no 4, Op. 69: 3rd movement, Vivace by Herman D. Koppel
Performer:  Herman D. Koppel (Piano)
Conductor:  Aksel Wellejus
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Odense Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: Denmark 
Length: 6 Minutes 57 Secs. 
Notes: Composition written: Denmark (1960 - 1963). 
6.
Paw: Prelude by Herman D. Koppel
Conductor:  Aksel Wellejus
Orchestra/Ensemble:  South Jutland Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Length: 1 Minutes 26 Secs. 
7.
Paw: In the Forest by Herman D. Koppel
Conductor:  Aksel Wellejus
Orchestra/Ensemble:  South Jutland Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Length: 1 Minutes 32 Secs. 
8.
Paw: The Bird by Herman D. Koppel
Conductor:  Aksel Wellejus
Orchestra/Ensemble:  South Jutland Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Length: 1 Minutes 47 Secs. 
9.
Paw: Morning Mood by Herman D. Koppel
Conductor:  Aksel Wellejus
Orchestra/Ensemble:  South Jutland Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Length: 1 Minutes 17 Secs. 
10.
Paw: Finale by Herman D. Koppel
Conductor:  Aksel Wellejus
Orchestra/Ensemble:  South Jutland Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Length: 1 Minutes 49 Secs. 
11.
Palle March by Herman D. Koppel
Conductor:  Aksel Wellejus
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Danish Radio Sinfonietta
Period: 20th Century 
Length: 2 Minutes 55 Secs. 
12.
Concerto for Piano no 2, Op. 30: 2nd movement, Allegro moderato by Herman D. Koppel
Performer:  Nikolaj Koppel (Piano), Herman D. Koppel (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: Denmark 
Length: 10 Minutes 19 Secs. 
Notes: Composition written: Denmark (1936 - 1937). 
13.
Visions fugitives by Thomas Koppel
Performer:  Herman D. Koppel (Piano)
Conductor:  John Schroder
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Aalborg Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1964; Denmark 
Length: 12 Minutes 59 Secs. 
14.
Concerto for Piano, Strings and Percussion by Anders Koppel
Performer:  Herman D. Koppel (Piano)
Conductor:  Agnieszka Duczmal
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Amadeus Chamber Orchestra
15.
The Twelve Tones by Bernhard Christensen
Performer:  Herman D. Koppel (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Length: 9 Minutes 55 Secs. 
16.
Nine Friends: Secret One (to Lars) by Per Norgaard
Performer:  Herman D. Koppel (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Length: 1 Minutes 32 Secs. 
17.
Nine Friends: Secret - too (to Helle) by Per Norgaard
Performer:  Herman D. Koppel (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Length: 2 Minutes 33 Secs. 
18.
Nine Friends: Opening One (to Pia) by Per Norgaard
Performer:  Herman D. Koppel (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Length: 1 Minutes 57 Secs. 
19.
Nine Friends: Tiny (to Lasse) by Per Norgaard
Performer:  Herman D. Koppel (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Length: 0 Minutes 47 Secs. 
20.
Nine Friends: Illusive (to Per) by Per Norgaard
Performer:  Herman D. Koppel (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Length: 1 Minutes 30 Secs. 
21.
Nine Friends: Big Brother (to Mogens) by Per Norgaard
Performer:  Herman D. Koppel (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Length: 1 Minutes 15 Secs. 
22.
Nine Friends: Onwards (to Jeanette) by Per Norgaard
Performer:  Herman D. Koppel (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Length: 1 Minutes 36 Secs. 
23.
Nine Friends: Three-faced Goddess (to Dinna) by Per Norgaard
Performer:  Herman D. Koppel (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Length: 3 Minutes 3 Secs. 
24.
Nine Friends: Opening, too (to Herman) by Per Norgaard
Performer:  Herman D. Koppel (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Length: 6 Minutes 17 Secs. 

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