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David Hurwitz

This is the most interesting and rewarding volume to date in Dacapo's ongoing Herman Koppel orchestral music edition. The Fifth Symphony is a splendid work. Its opening movement pays sly homage to the Fifth Symphony of Nielsen in its opposition of pastoral and militant elements (complete with snare drum), but the idiom comes much closer to that of Estonian composer Eduard Tubin, or perhaps Einar Englund. The central scherzo is just delightful, witty and very danceable, while the finale offers an intensification of the mood of the first movement before subsiding into a touchingly sensitive, quiet ending. Anyone who enjoys good 20th century symphonies should snap this up without hesitation. ,,, Prelude to a Symphony, a late work dating from 1981, is a spiky, rhythmically abrupt, five-and-a-half minutes full of wry humor and more than a touch of jazz. It sets the stage for the masterpieces to come with unassuming vitality and verve. The Aalborg Symphony under Moshe Atzmon does the music proud, offering perfomances with plenty of tension and heft. The sonics are warmly detailed, perhaps a bit loose in the bass, but very good by any standard. This is a very rewarding disc, full of music that deserves the attention of music lovers everywhere.

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