The album features a selection of premiere recordings of the composer’s works, some of which dates back to the early 1970’s, including the album’s opening piece Choral and the capricious Autumnal for violin and piano.
Knussen has been a pioneering character of the British classical music scene for many years – not only as a composer, but also as a prolific conductor, teacher, programmer and artistic director.
This album is a chronological tour of Knussen’s works, which journeys its way from the composer’s earliest works right through to Ophelia’s Last Dance, composed in 2010.
Included in the album is Requiem: Songs for Sue – written following the death of Oliver’s wife in 2003. The piece sets texts by poets who were important to them both – from Emily Dickinson’s poem to her sister Sue, “Is it true, dear Sue?” to works by Antonio Machado, WH Auden and Rainer Maria Rilke – the latter of which was translated by Oliver’s friend and musical collaborator Alexander Goehr. Also on this disc is a live recording of his Violin Concerto, performed at the BBC Proms by Leila Josefowicz.
“The performances, several from the artists such as Josefowicz and Claire Booth for whom the works were written, are superb, and much of the music ranks among the finest composed in this country in recent decades.”
Andrew Clements, The Guardian