ANDERS KOPPEL (b.1947): String Quartets No. 1 and No. 2, Quintet for Mezzo Saxophone and String Quartet.
Catalogue Number: 06M090
Description: Koppel seamlessly blends elements of world music and popular music with the string quartet tradition since Bartók in these approachable works from 1997 and 2008. The first quartet opens with bolero rhythms, rushing glissandi and a passionate chromatic theme which later adds dancing klezmer-like fragments before offering a Bartókian nocturne of a slow movement and finishing up with a driven finale which runs previous themes past like dancers at Carneval. The second, much longer at 22 minutes, is predominantly lyrical and serene, inspired by the millions of stars in a clear night sky, and, with a nod to the astronomer Kepler, Koppel associates specific intervals and scales with Earth and Mercury who glide through their own little, musical "Harmonices Mundi", before a finale with relentless, swirling rhythms. Rhythmic ingenuity and attractive melodic fragments alternate in carefree, light and dreamily moody sections in the first movement of the saxophone quintet, followed by a somber slow movement inspired by Böcklin's "Isle of the Dead" before another virtuosic finale of clockwork ingenuity sweeps all before it. Benjamin Koppel (sax), Sjælland String Quartet.