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Herman D KOPPEL (1908-1998)
CD 1
Requiem for solo voices, chorus and orchestra op. 78 (1965-66) [53:57]
CD 2
Concertino for Strings: No. 1 op. 32 (1938) [16:18]; No. 2 op. 66 [22:14];
Concerto for Oboe and Orchestra op. 82 (1970) [17:53]
Chamber Concerto for Violin and Strings op. 83 (1971) [12:38]
Lone Koppel (soprano) - Jephta's Daughter; Ticho Parly (tenor) - narrator; Rolf Jupiter - Job, Israel. Jephta; Willy Hatmann - Riben, Joseph; Mogens Schmidt Johnsen - Juda; Danish National Radio Choir; DR SO/JanKrenz (Requiem); DR SO/Lamberto Gardelli (op. 32/1); BBCSO/Rudolf Schwarz (op. 66); Jørgen Hammergaard (oboe) DR SO/Leif Segerstam (op. 82): Milan Vitek (violin) DR SO/John Frandsen (op. 83)
rec. Copenhagen, 17May 1968 (Requiem); 1958 (op. 32/1); 18 February 1971 (op. 82); 22 September 1972 (op. 83); London, 6 February 1958 (op. 66). ADD
DANACORD DACOCD571-2 [53:57 + 69:25]
Experience Classicsonline

Danacord continue their dogged pursuit of a programme to reissue all the viable private recordings made by and for the Danish composer Herman D Koppel.

The first disc of the present set is taken up with the Requiem which cradles five Old Testament stories across 12 separately tracked sections. This is sternly serious music with the protesting declamatory defiance and wailing dissenting "look and feel" of Schoenberg's Moses and Aaron. Try the Kain und Abel section (tr. 7). The conventional elements of the Requiem are missing. The sound is healthy enough if lacking great weight and is certainly enjoyable. The primeval power of the piece is unmistakable - it recalls the darker apocalyptic calamities of Schmidt's Book of the Seven Seals. This returns in fire and flames in the final Psalm section. There’s no reassurance here just staring into the eye of whirling destruction. However there is tenderness of a sort as in the chilly reassurance given in Psalm (tr. 9). Hesitant applause greets the final tempest of negation.

The sung German text for the Requiem is in the booklet but there is no translation into any other language.

The second disc sets out four shorter orchestral works. The op. 32 Concertino has something of the springy lyricism of Tippett's Concerto for Double String Orchestra. There’s just a hint of Northern European reserve even in the effervescently joyous finale with its pre-echoes of Wirén. This work would make a wonderful partner to the Wirén Serenade.

The Op. 66 Concertino is from 1957 and is again characterised by dignity, a regretful elegiac manner and an overarching serious mien. This is only cast off in the pizzicato finale which darts off with abandon.

The Oboe Concerto is in wonderful sound. It is a pleasure to encounter this work in a recording by the dedicatee and first soloist for the piece. It is a work of darting angular athleticism and vaunting mercurial playfulness. The note-writer claims that the third (of four) movements is reminiscent in its hypnotic spell of Lady Macbeth's sleepwalking music in Koppel's opera Macbeth. Finally comes the op. 83 Concertino. This work inhabits a similar sound-world to op. 82. It reminded me somewhat of the reserved singing quality of the Fricker Violin Concerto. It is the most dissonant and least accessible of the concertos here not that it is all that thorny. At moments it launches out into an access of the romantic expression that lies close to the instrument's heart and core.

The booklet is the usual polished and professional Danacord product with profiles of the works and the various artists.

The next volume in this rewarding series comprises one work - the epic oratorio Moses op. 76 (1963-64) on DACOCD573-574. It was the work that preceded the Requiem.

Volume 6 is a valuable addition in the pilgrimage to document the music of Herman D Koppel. Would that all composers could receive similar regal treatment.

Rob Barnett

Previous releases in this series on Danacord :-
v1: DACOCD561-562 Piano and orchestra
v2: DACOCD563-564 Solo Piano
v3: DACOCD565-566 Chamber Music
v4: DACOCD567-568 Vocal Music (see review)
v5: DACOCD569-570 Piano Concertos (see review)


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