By my reckoning this is the fifth of Danacord’s revelatory
I’ve reviewed devoted to historic or at least ‘pre-contemporary’ Koppel
performances. The links below will fill in the biography and will also serve
to show the width of preserved material in the archives.
Koppel began work on his Requiem
soon after completing his oratorio Moses
It’s an imposing, stern and often unyielding work that seldom dissipates
its grip throughout, in this performance, its fifty-three minutes. Nevertheless
within this schema Koppel ensures that there is plenty of room for contrast,
playing off solo voices against the chorus, and allowing a powerful sense of
drama to develop. The second movement for example, Hiob I
, generates tensile
direction through the use of such a device, the solo voice writing being explicitly
juxtaposed against the more emollient expressive choral statements, though the
choir turns torrid and harmonically eventful in the succeeding movement as if
to underline the mutability and fractious changeability of this work. Here, in Joseph
it’s the turn of the solo tenor to turn sorrowing. It’s certainly
a work that plays up such stern angularities; when the soprano offers some form
of consolation the orchestral brass reply brusquely; when the soprano lines in Psalm
the ninth section, seem to embody a kind of reconciliation, the unison string
writing becomes withdrawn. The Requiem never ingratiates or offers false hope.
The violent orchestral tumult in the concluding Psalm
adamantine seriousness of purpose.
The second disc explores other areas. The Concertinos make for contrasting listening.
The first is a sappy, snappy affair with a high energy, Stravinskian ethos, whose
slow movement feeds on some witty answering string phrases, strongly enjoyed
by Lamberto Gardelli, the possibly unlikely seeming conductor. Turn to the zesty,
pizzicato prominent finale and its fine pay off for more examples of Koppel in
unbuttoned 1938 mode. The second Concerto was written almost two decades later
and occupies an altogether different sound world. It pursues twelve tone elements
with terse lyricism and a keen sense of loss and is most effectively played by
the BBC SO and Rudolf Schwarz. The Oboe Concerto is a different work altogether,
as cheeky as a Minorcan sparrow, swift, swooping and agile as a kingfisher. There
is something avian about its sheer agility. Its slow section is generous but
compressed; the orchestration is clever and diaphanous; Koppel’s use of
pizzicati and percussion colour - celesta, vibraphone - is mercurial and delightful.
Finally there is the compact Chamber Concerto for Violin and strings. Here Koppel
again returns to ideas of contrast; some austere writing prefaces the more vital
rhythmic charge of the second part where some luscious writing ensures that the
motoric dance ends boldly.
Needless to say this is another finely constructed and annotated entrant and
a persuasive example of Koppel’s variousness throughout many years of composition.
see also review by Rob
Some other releases in this series
- works for piano and orchestra