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Herman D. KOPPEL (1908-1998)
Prelude to a Symphony Op. 105 (1981) [5.30]
Symphony No. 5 Op. 60 (1956) [32.10]
Piano Concerto No. 3 Op. 45 (1948) [33.47]
Nina Kavtaradze (piano)
Aalborg Symphony Orchestra/Moshe Atzmon
rec. 22-24 Aug 2000, 20-21 June 2003, Symphony Hall. Aalborg, Danmarks Radio
Orchestral Works vol. 4
DACAPO 8.226027 [75.20]


Koppel accounted for seven symphonies between 1930 and 1961. Dacapo working with Atzmon and Aalborg are recording all of them. Every disc to date has been reviewed here.

Listening to these three works it is clear that Koppel is no Nielsen facsimile. The Prelude is busy, pellucidly orchestrated, sharply rhythmic and more neo-classical than romantic. There are singing melodic aspects to the striving of the Fifth Symphony but this is the striving and the singing of a Hindemith or a Copland rather than of a Wellesz or a Shostakovich. In the finale there are links with the angular conflict of RVW Fourth and Sixth, Arthur Butterworth's masterly First (on ClassicO) Nielsen's Fifth and Alwyn's Fourth (Lyrita or Chandos).

Koppel, himself a fine pianist (try his Danacord series) wrote four concertos for the instrument: 1932, 1937, 1948 and 1963. This one is in the neo-classical angular style with some lyrical relaxation for relief. Prokofiev is the closest parallel I can find. Prior to the premiere proper there was a preview concert at which Niels Viggo Bentzon played the orchestral part on piano and the composer played the solo line. Later in the same concert they swapped roles for Bentzon's First Piano Concerto and performed the Stravinsky Piano Concerto in between. The Third Piano Concerto is a very entertaining work and deserves much greater exposure and popularity. If you like the Prokofiev concertos and the Shostakovich pair you owe it to yourself to hear this. It is brilliantly despatched by all concerned: Gershwin's Rhapsody meets Kodaly's Peacock!

This fine disc has extended and lucid notes by Jens Cornelius.

Rob Barnett

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