Koppel - Works for Cello and Piano
Herman D KOPPEL (1908-1998)
Ternio op. 53b (1951) [11:47]
Introduction, Theme with Variations and Epilogue for solo cello op. 86 (1971) [10:53]
Cello Sonata op. 62 (1956) [22:51]
Benjamin KOPPEL (b.1974)
Professor Herman's Cellistic Imaginarium (2010) [13:00]
Morten Zeuthen (cello)
Amalie Malling (piano)
rec. 13-15 Jan 2009, 16 June 2010, 17 Jan 2011, Royal Danish Academy of Music. DDD
DACAPO 8.226088 [58:31]

The arrival of this CD at the top of the review heap was felicitous. I had just completed a review of Anders Koppel's three concertos on another Dacapo disc. Herman was the father, Anders the son and Benjamin the grandson.

Ternio - meaning three of a kind - is a three movement cello sonata except by name. It is a tour de force for both players with the music driven forward by resolution and adrenaline. It often blasts along. The idiom is tonal and the narrative is dramatic. It dates from just before Koppel's cello concerto. His tempests are Beethovenian in character with grandeur not in short supply. This is well worth the attention of any listener or indeed any cellist. Composer parallels are always crude approximations - here perhaps Prokofiev will give you some very rough idea of Koppel's soundworld.

The 1971 Introduction, Theme with Variations and Epilogue for solo cello is packed across its ten minutes duration with bristling invention. Again it's characteristically impressive. This burred tonal music could easily stand alongside Kodaly's solo cello sonata. The performance gives every appearance of being utterly committed with Zeuthen's breathing captured in what is a closely observed recording.

The three movement Cello Sonata was written just prior to a tour of the USSR made with the cellist Erling Blondahl Bengtsson. It's a work in the same idiom as Ternio. It's unfalteringly serious, sturdy, blazingly grand and brilliant - a grown-up Cello Sonata.

Grandson Benjamin Koppel has written cello music for the jazz ensemble Mad Cows Sing so when asked to write a piece specially for this disc the task was not alien. The result between Koppel and Zeuthen is serious, effortful, dramatic. It grippingly engages the attention span at very close quarters.

One of the many treasures in Dacapo's catalogue.

Rob Barnett

Two Koppels in music that is unflinchingly serious and gripping.