[Cover graphic]
DACOCD 569-570 [ADD]
Herman D. Koppel
Composer & Pianist, vol. 5
Piano Concertos by Herman D. Koppel,
Thomas Koppel and Anders Koppel
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DACOCD 569 (CD 1)

Herman D. Koppel (1908-1998)
Piano Concerto No. 1, Opus 13
[ 1 ]  1. Allegro moderato  
7:53
[ 2 ] 2. Andante quieto - allegro
12:40
Herman D. Koppel, piano
DR Symphony Orchestra
Aksel Wellejus, conductor
Concert recording Radio House Copenhagen 17.05.1982
 
Piano Concerto No. 4, Opus 63
[ 3 ]  1. Allegro
(MP3 sample Sound)
 
6:38
[ 4 ] 2. Andante tranquillo
7:59
[ 5 ]  3. Vivace
6:57
Herman D. Koppel, piano
Odense Symphony Orchestra
Aksel Wellejus, conductor
Concert recording Odense City Hall 27.05.1963
 
Paw
[ 6 ]  1. Prelude  
1:26
[ 7 ] 2. In the Forest
1:32
[ 8 ]  3. The Bird
1:47
[ 9 ]  4. Morning Mood
1:17
[10]  5. Finale
(MP3 sample Sound)
1:49
South Jutland Symphony Orchestra
Aksel Wellejus, conductor
Recorded South Jutland Hall 22.01.1980
 
Palle March
[11]  1. Marcia  
2:55
DR Sinfonietta
Aksel Wellejus, conductor
Radio studio broadcast 17.05.1982
 
3rd Movement of Piano Concerto No. 2, Opus 30
[12]  1. Allegro moderato
(MP3 sample Sound)
 
10:19
Nikolaj Koppel and Herman D. Koppel, pianos
Concert recording Tivoli Concert Hall 17.07.1994
 

DACOCD 570 (CD 2)

Thomas Koppel (1944-2006)
[ 1 ]  Visions fugitives for Piano and Orchestra
(MP3 sample Sound)
12:59
Herman D. Koppel, piano
Aalborg Symphony Orchestra
Jens Schrøder, conductor
Recorded Aalborg Hall 12.10.1976
 
Anders Koppel (b. 1947)
Concerto for Piano, Strings and Percussion
[ 2 ]  1. Allegro  
4:34
[ 3 ] 2. Adagio
5:37
[ 4 ]  3. Andante con brio
4:47
[ 5 ]  4. Moderato
6:30
[ 6 ]  5. Allegro
8:13
Herman D. Koppel, piano
Amadeus Chamber Orchestra
Agnieszka Duczmal, conductor
Recorded Radio House Copenhagen 31.07.1993
 
Bernhard Christensen (1906-2004)
The Twelve Tones
Herman D. Koppel, piano
[ 7 ]  1. Passacaglia  
9:55
 
Per Nørgård (b. 1932)
Nine Friends
[ 8 ]  1. Secret One  
1:32
[ 9 ] 2. Secret, too
2:33
[10]  3. Opening One
1:57
[11]  4. Wee
0:47
[12]  5. Illusive
1:30
[13]  6. Big Brother
1:15
[14]  7. Onwards!
1:36
[15]  8. Three Faced Goddess
3:03
[16]  9. Opening, too
6:17
Herman D. Koppel, piano
Recorded Radio House Copenhagen 11.04.1986
 
HERMAN D. KOPPEL’s Piano Concertos
For the biography of Herman D. Koppel, see DACOCD 561-562
Noter på dansk:
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Notes in Danish
Koppel wrote five piano concertos – if we include Eight Variations and Epilogue for Solo Piano and Thirteen Instruments from 1973 – of which No 3 is one of his most often performed works. In the radio broadcast Something about Piano Concertos from 1993 Koppel compared No 3 with the other ones and commented on the remarkable differences in style which can be found between them, and on similarities to music of other composers. He stressed the fact that the stylistic development to be found in the concertos originates in an inner need for change, rather than having a direct link to his extensive career as a soloist in works by both his predecessors and his contemporaries. Piano Concerto No 1 The original title was Concerto for Piano and Chamber Orchestra. According to the score the first movement was finished 2 November 1931, the two last ones 15 February 1932, and all three re-scored six months later. In between, the concerto had had its first performance with the strings of the DR Symphony Orchestra conducted by Emil Reesen; the year after the new version with wind instruments was performed, conducted by the violinist Emil Telmányi who had advised Koppel on the instrumentation. The very positive reviews emphasized the modernist elements of the work. Similar reactions came after the performances at Nordiske Musikdage in Oslo 1934. The present recording is from a radio invitation concert in 1982. The concerto reminds one of Koppel’s ideals: In the dancing first movement we hear echos of Strawinsky, while the short andante quieto is influenced by Carl Nielsen both in its melody and harmony and in the dramatic transition into the third movement (from 2’20 ). This final movement is quite unorthodox for a solo concerto. At the beginning the resemblance to the first movement is evident, but the smooth-running character is soon changed by hammering piano chords in shifting rhythms, underlined by trumpet and timpani. A springy theme of a lighter character is introduced (4’30) but it soon undergoes a similar change, at which point the theme from the first movement is quoted (5’10). A more quiet theme in triple time (6’00) adorned with bright piano figurations leads through enervating repetitions to a noisy culmination, from where a piano solo leads back to the initial theme of the movement. But the story doesn’t end here. The melody from the second movement appears (9’18) as the starting point for an extensive lyrical solo cadenza and a vigorous summing-up of the first theme. Piano Concerto No 4 The score carries the dedication “To my darling wife” and the date 22 March 1963. The work had its premiere at a Subscription Concert at the Danish Radio in February 1964 conducted by Mogens Wöldike. The recording on this cd is from a concert two months later during the Danish Ballet and Musical Festival with the Odense Symphony Orchestra under Aksel Wellejus. In this composition Koppel uses twelve-note patterns – something he only did in a few works – most significantly in the melody which begins the first movement and in the chromatic figures in the beginning of the third movement. Notes are repeated within the note rows, however. What can be heard are melodic lines avoiding any fixed tonality, supported by intervals of thirds or anchored in tonal bass lines. After presenting the sauntering opening theme, the piano continues with short interludes and accompanies the melody returning in celli and bassoons, in woodwind and strings, and finally spread out in long notes in the entire orchestra. The soloist then takes the lead in a long, stormy passage, the tempo accelerates, and the orchestra gradually is swept along in a storm of rough figures, cut off with a cymbal flash and hastily fading tom-tom sounds. In a merry interlude the opening theme recurs in different disguises, before a shortened repetition of the first part of the movement is played, followed by the storm, this time ending in thunder and lightning. The second movement consists of variations with interludes. The theme is heard as the upper part of a series of chords in different instrumentation throughout the movement. After two exposures, a rhythmically freer version of the theme is unfolded in the woodwind accompanied by an increasingly more active soloist, who leads the theme into a duo with a clarinet. The chord version of the theme returns, followed by its more floating form in oboes and trumpets on top of an increasingly growing activity in the rest of the orchestra and the piano. After a sudden silence, the clarinet plays the theme once more over quiet chords in low winds, with melodic embellishments in the piano. The soloist takes the lead in the third movement with a frisky finale theme, until the orchestra comes to the front and lets the piano rest in a cantabile melody adorned with woodwind, after which the tables are turned. The chord theme from the second movement turns up in the strings accompanying the continuous forceful playing of the piano, finishing with the cantabile melody. The opening section of the movement is repeated in slightly altered proportions, followed by a piano solo with scattered insertions and a final orchestral jubilation. A smooth return of the opening theme is brought to a stop by yet another entry of the chord theme from the second movement, leading into a solo cadenza that ends with the initial figurations of the movement. A solemn version of the opening theme follows, but is dismissed by the piano with a last twist. Film Music The March from the film Palle alene i verden (Palle Alone in the World), 1949 and the Suite from the film Paw, 1959, both films for children, are examples from Herman D. Koppel’s long collaboration with the film directors Astrid and Bjarne Henning-Jensen. At the age of twentytwo Kopppel had played piano to silent movies, Aksel and with the music to Palle he began to conduct the recordings of his own film music. Composing for the film medium was both a good way of making money and a possibility of trying out different styles and means of expression. The music to Paw with its impressionistic inspired harmony and instrumentation is a bright contrast to Koppel’s personal musical idiom. Aksel Wellejus who conducts the orchestral works on this cd, was born in 1924, educated as pianist and conductor at The Royal Danish Academy of Music, and made his debut as conductor in 1950 after having studied at the Rome Opera. Later he worked as a coach at the academy of music, as choral conductor, conductor at the Odense Theatre 1953, and at the Odense Symphony Orchestra where he was artistic director 1966-68. Wellejus conducted the Tivoli Symphony Orchestra until 1980, and since then he has made appearances abroad and with all DR Symphony Orchestra and with the Danish Radio Choir. He has also conducted at the opera companies in Jutland and Funen as well as in radio and television. Until 1994 Wellejus was assistant professor and orchestral leader at the Carl Nielsen Academy of Music in Odense, teacher and examiner at The Royal Danish Academy of Music and until 1999 adviser on new music in Danmarks Radio. Aksel Wellejus has been awarded a number of music prizes including the award of the Danish Music Critics 1956. The Danish Conductors Association bestowed him their Prize of Honour 1987, their Grant of Honour 1996, and made him Honorary Member in 2006. Aksel Wellejus has performed a large number of Danish works including many premieres. Apart from the works on this cd, Wellejus and the Odense Symphony Orchestra have performed Herman D. Koppel’s Piano Concerto No 3 in 1955 together with the composer, and his Concerto for Violin, Viola and Orchestra in 1964 with Else Marie Bruun and Julius Koppel as soloists. DR Symphony Orchestra has continuously since its foundation in 1925 contributed to the development of Danish orchestral music, including a large number of first performances, productions and recordings of the music by Herman D. Koppel as well as recordings and concerts where he was the soloist. Odense Symphony Orchestra was founded in 1946 as a continuation of a theatre orchestra which had existed since around 1800. The orchestra now consists of seventy-three musicians, and since 1983 has Odense Concert House as its permanent base. They play for opera, have toured extensively abroad and have made a number of cd-recordings, including Herman D. Koppel’s Flute Concerto and Anders Koppel’s Saxophone Concerto. On the orchestra’s website can be found a complete list of the works performed by the orchestra, including Herman D. Koppel’s Piano Concertos No 3, No 4 on this cd, and No 2 in 2004. South Jutland Symphony Orchestra was founded as a string orchestra in 1936, was changed into Sønderborg Symphony Orchestra in 1941, and in 1963 became one of the official regional orchestras under its current name. In 2007 the orchestra inaugurated its own concert hall Alsion in connection with the University of Southern Denmark. Over the years the orchestra has performed many Danish works and made a number of radio productions of works by contemporary composers. The Danish Radio Sinfonietta founded in 1949 has performed a great number of works by contemporary Danish composers, including both Herman D. Koppel and his two sons, Thomas Koppel and Anders Koppel. Allegro moderato, 3rd Movement of Piano Concerto No 2 Opus 30, for Two Pianos On the score we read “To Vibe” (the composer’s wife Vibeke) and the years 1936-37. After the first performance 1938 the concerto was cooly received and the composer withdrew it. Koppel later called it “a struggling work”. In connection with the above-mentioned radio broadcast in 1993 I borrowed the score from The Royal Library, and amazed at how different the concerto was from Nos 1 and 3, I suggested to Koppel that he should rescue the work from oblivion. This happened one year later at a concert in Tivoli Gardens Concert Hall with the composer’s grandson Nikolaj Koppel as soloist while Herman D. Koppel played the orchestral parts on the second piano. From this recording, the third movement has been considered suitable for publication . Whereas one can trace the influence from Nielsen and Strawinsky in the first piano concerto, from Shostakovich in the third, and Prokofiev in the fourth, the merciless motoric objectivity and the simple melodic line of this movement makes one think of Bartók, whose Allegro barbaro Koppel played at numerous concerts. Nikolaj Koppel (born 1969) began piano studies with his grandfather Herman D. Koppel, continuing at The Royal Danish Academy of Music until 1997. After his debut, Nikolaj Koppel released solo cd’s, among these Brahms’ 1st Piano Concerto, and toured with DR Symphony Orchestra in Europe, in the USA and Australia, at the same time beginning a career as journalist. In 2005 he was appointed music Director of the Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen. Thomas Koppel (1944-2006) Thomas Koppel became famous with the ’beat’ group Savage Rose which he founded in 1967 together with his brother Anders and among others his later wife Annisette. He reorganized the group in 1971 to a politically active gospel style trio and only resumed his career as a composer some twenty years later. Thomas Koppel had studied piano at The Royal Danish Academy of Music with his father Herman D. Koppel as teacher. In his first year he received some instruction in composition from Vagn Holmboe, but otherwise learned from following his father’s work. When he was twenty-one, his opera The Story of a Mother was performed at The Royal Theatre in Copenhagen, and in the next years a number of avantgarde compositions appeared, including Visions fugitives. In his politically militant period Thomas Koppel dissociated himself from these works , but when he learned about the plans for the present cd-release, he wrote he was "happy that my father's vivid interpretation (…) with a lot of poetry, drama, and humour, thus becomes available. This I have wished for a long time!", adding the wish that recordings of other of his works were kept for the future, too. The title Visions fugitives – fugitive visions – stems from a piano composition by Sergei Prokofiev, but whereas his twenty miniatures are independent character pieces with individual titles, only few of the modules making up Thomas Koppel’s work are separate; after a tentative beginning the modules appear as a continuous development. The unorthodox orchestral ensemble: two each of flutes, clarinets, trumpets and trombones, three horns, two violins, six violas, three double basses, harp and two percussion players, provides the basis for strong contrasts and is deployed in a colourful and dynamic interplay with the piano. Each module is built up of harmonic layers creating sonorous balance and coherence. During the first three minutes the sound changes from gentle sustained notes with aggressive outbursts in the brass instruments continuing in a shimmering piano solo, to circular movements with increasing and decreasing volume in strings and wind, concluding in violent tutti outbursts with bass drum and cymbals. The next four-and-a-half minutes go by with different kinds of music-making between soloist and orchestra: Roaring chords with delicate piano afterbeats – tinkling piano passages alternating with palpitating sounds from metal percussion, harp, strings and wind – cascades of palm beats and glissandi on the piano, at first timidly answered by the strings and woodwind then by snarling from the brass. After hard beats on the bass drum and timpani the piano falls silent, and triumphing brass sounds ebb away with the reiteration of a melody snatch. The four following minutes are mostly of a quiet, dreaming character, a display of changing gentle sound mixtures, at last interrupted by a tutti fortissimo followed by a chaotic outburst of irregular repeated figures in the entire orchestra to which the soloist adds an increasing tremolo thunder. After a short breather a solo cadenza follows with diverse ways of playing from quiet tremolo to vigorous palm beats. The cadenza dies away, and the chaotic outbursts return, abruptly changing between orchestra and soloist and leading into final fireworks. The radio recording from 1974 published here with the Aalborg Symphony Orchestra was the first performance of the work. Over the years this orchestra has contributed to the knowledge of new Danish music, not least by a great number of radio productions. Jens Schrøder (1909-1991) conductor of the recording, studied conducting with Nicolai Malko in Prague and was for many years pianist, theatre conductor, and freelance conductor for the orchestra of the Danish section of the ISCM among others. In 1942 Jens Schrøder was active in the establishing of the Aalborg Symphony Orchestra whose principal conductor and artistic manager he was until 1979. Besides this he often conducted the other regional orchestras as well as the orchestras of the Danish Radio. Schrøder conducted a large number of contemporary compositions including many first performances of Danish works. Anders Koppel Born 1947, was a member of the Copenhagen Boys’ Choir, played piano first with his sister Therese and later with his father Herman D. Koppel, besides flute and clarinet. At the age of fifteen he gave the first performance of Herman D. Koppel’s Variations for Clarinet and Piano Opus 72 together with the composer, whom he later assisted in the preparation of the texts to Requiem and other vocal works. Anders Koppel played keyboard in the abovementioned Savage Rose for a number of years, but in 1976 formed the group Bazaar together with Peter Bastian and Flemming Quist-Møller playing what Anders Koppel characterizes as “improvised world music”. In his extensive production of scored music are more than twenty works for solo instruments with orchestra – four of them for marimba. The Concerto for Piano, Strings and Percussion is dedicated to Herman D. Koppel who gave the first performance in 1993. The piano is surrounded by a full string section, minimum six first and second violins, four violas and celli and two double basses, as well as a large percussion section played by three players: timpani and different drums, xylophone, woodblocks and castanets, glockenspiel, tubular bells and triangle, cymbals and tambourine, light and dark ratchets and car horn. The work opens with decisive chords and a hesitant trill figure in the piano followed by an almost mozartian section where piano figurations and sustained string notes are supported by springy, broken rhythms, sometimes interrupted by energetic fortesections and ending in three fortissimo chords. In the second movement the piano plays alone with the strings, four of which are playing solo lines. The piano begins and ends with a sad melodic arch with a simple accompaniment of chords, framing a chain of short statements ending in sustained chords. The beginning of the third movement resembles the first – here a sweeping gesture leads into the hesitant trill. The rocking pace of the movement is marked by the sound of woodblocks, and the oriental sounds of the melodic lines suggest a caravan. In the middle section of the movement, the piano unfolds a steady melodic line with quiet accompaniment of strings. The introduction to the slow fourth movement is played espressivo by five solo strings with some vehement marcato-outbursts in the double bass, followed by the piano alone with a melody related to the sad melody from the second movement, accompanied by chords. The introduction is repeated, now played by all the strings. A long piano cadenza, interrupted several times by accented string chords, changes from searching to energetic, culminating in a fortissimo outburst. Finally the piano melody returns played by the strings and embellished with piano figurations. The fifth movement is strongly inspired by folk music and resembles a journey by prairie railway with gun shots and whistles. After a short idyllic stop we reach a varied display of folk music and dance until the journey is resumed and ends in a jubilant home-coming. The recording issued on this cd was made in connection with the first performance of the work by the Polish chamber orchestra Amadeus on its tour to Copenhagen in 1993. Amadeus Chamber Orchestra was founded by Agnieszka Duczmal in 1968. In 1976 the orchestra was awarded the Herbert von Karajan Silver Medal at the International Meeting of Young Orchestras. In 1977 it became a fulltime employed group of the Polish Radio and Television. The orchestra makes recordings for other broadcasting organizations as well, its repertoire ranging from baroque to contemporary music. Agnieszka Duczmal studied conducting at the State College of Music in Poznañ and graduated with honour in 1971. She has conducted symphony and opera orchestras, and in 1982 was awarded the title of The Woman of the World granted under UNESCO’s patronage by the president of Italy. With the Amadeus Chamber Orchestra Agnieszka Duczmal has made numerous recordings and made several tours abroad. Bernhard Christensen (1906-2004) was Koppel’s friend from their youth. After studying music at the University of Copenhagen and graduating as an organist, he divided his activities between church music, jazz and scored music. In 1934 he and Koppel jointly composed the two jazz oratories for schools Thrymskvadet and Trompetkvadet, and in 1945 Christensen dedicated his 2nd Piano Concerto to Koppel. The piano piece De tolv toner (The Twelve Tones) was written in 1987 at the suggestion of Koppel who made the first performance the year after. The piece carries the subtitle Passacaglia (variations on an ostinato bass built on twelve tones) and is a jazz composition in changing time with syncopations and polyrhythms. Per Nørgård Born 1932. Studied piano with Herman D. Koppel during his composition studies at The Royal Danish Academy of Music. Despite their differing views on the development of music, they remained friends and close colleagues. Nine Friends, with the subtitle A Book of Characters, is found in two versions: one for accordion and one for piano, the latter dedicated to Herman D. Koppel and premiered in 1985, the year of its composition. There are accordion features in some of the pieces like prominent use of chords and extensive use of mutually overlapping tones, especially in Nos 7 and 9 respectively. The pieces can be performed in different combinations and are numbered according to their difficulty. They characterize persons with whom Per Nørgård has had various kinds of artistic collaboration (indicated in the score only by their first names, the last of which is Herman). The pieces have the following titles, tempo and expression specifications: 1. Secret One.– Allegretto, leggiero ma secco e segreto
2. Secret, too. – Largissimo, innocente
3. Opening One.– Staccato
4. Wee.– Lento e flessibile, semplice possibile
5. Illusive.– Lento
6. Big Brother.– Forte marcato
7. Onwards!– Allegro risoluto
8. Three Faced Goddess.– Allegro ma non troppo e molto ritmico, piano grazioso
9. Opening, too.
Mogens Andersen