COMPOSERS: A Koppel
ALBUM TITLE: A Koppel
WORKS: Concerto for recorder, saxophone and orchestra; Triple concerto for mezzo saxophone, cello & harp
PERFORMER: Michala Petri (recorder), Benjamin Koppel (saxophones), Tine Rehling (harp), Eugene Hye-Knudsen (cello); Odense Symphony/Henrik Vagn Christensen
CATALOGUE NO: 6.220633
While the mainstay of the recorder’s repertoire sits within the medieval-Baroque periods, recent years have seen a growing body of new music composed for that instrument, recognising and celebrating its distinct timbre and ready agility. These three well-recorded discs, all of Scandinavian origin, mark the recorder’s continuing appeal, offering complex and challenging new compositions alongside more broadly accessible works.
Nordic Sound presents five world premieres for recorder and string orchestra and string orchestra alone, with the outstanding recorder virtuoso Michala Petri as soloist. The works were each commissioned in tribute to Danish composer Axel Borup-Jørgensen (1924-2012), whose own transfixing Sommasvit (1957) for string orchestra closes the disc. Stand-out pieces include Sunleif Rasmussen’s Winter Echoes, which unleashes ferocious trills and flutters from the recorder in a pleasing subversion of the instrument’s dulcet reputation, and Bent Sørensen’s Whispering for recorder and strings, its title said to be inspired by Axel’s ‘soft and fragile way of speaking’ and which forms a delicate and moving tribute.
Son of eminent Danish composer Herman Koppel (1908-1998), Anders Koppel has made his name as a renowned composer of both film and art music, all while remaining a member of the chart-topping psychedelic rock group Savage Rose for some 40 years. The mischievously titled Double Triple Koppel brings together two recent concertos: Koppel’s Double Concerto for Recorder, Saxophone and Orchestra (2010) and Triple Concerto for Mezzo Saxophone, Cello, Harp and Orchestra (2009). Koppel’s music is unabashedly sumptuous and tonal, with both scores full of whip-smart musical adventure and demonstrating Koppel’s knack for a luscious melody. There are occasional lapses in intonation across soloists and ensemble, but the disc features a notably tender and playful performance by Petri.
Thomas Koppel (brother of Anders and also a founder member of Savage Rose) heads up the diverse Danish and Faroese Recorder Concertos (once more performed with aplomb by Petri). Koppel’s recorder concerto Moonchild’s Dream (1990-91) was commissioned for a film recounting the hopes and dreams of a penurious young girl in Copenhagen, and while Koppel’s rich, cinematic score may have been a fine match for the film’s emotive theme, as a concert piece the work borders on the saccharine. Pelle Gudmundsen-Holmgreen’s fiercely inventive recorder concerto, Chacun Son Son (2014) offers a welcome astringence. Comprised of a ‘long-breathed canon’ scored between soloist and orchestral sections, the concerto snarls, sings and whispers, making for a powerful addition to the repertoire. Sunleif Rasmussen’s Territorial Songs (2008-9) explores the mingling sounds of birdsong with notable originality, capturing distinct and magical soundworlds (including an arresting passage where Petri hums through the recorder) across the work’s five short movements. Kate Wakeling