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Oliver Knussen: Autumnal

Choral - BBC Symphony Orchestra, Oliver Knussen
Autumnal - Alexandra Wood (violin) & Huw Watkins (piano)
Whitman Settings - Claire Booth (soprano) & Ryan Wigglesworth (piano)
Secret Psalm - Alexandra Wood (violin)
Prayer Bell Sketch - Ryan Wigglesworth (piano)
Violin Concerto - Leila Josefowicz (violin)/ BBC Symphony Orchestra, Oliver Knussen
Requiem: Songs for Sue - Claire Booth (soprano)/ BCMG, Oliver Knussen
Ophelia's Last Dance - Huw Watkins (piano)


An important portrait compilation of music 1970/2006 by a composer/conductor who is a central figure in UK's contemporary music life.

It is all composed fastidiously and laboriously, some of the music less than easy at first hearing. Sample the slow movement of the violin concerto (track 11) and you will be moved and 'hooked'.

For me, the heart of the disc is the poignant song cycle Requiem: Songs for Sue in memory of his wife Sue Knussen ("separated but remained close"). To compose it, he began by reading 1,700 Emily Dickinson poems !

The last item Ophelia's Last Dance is a "reminder of happier times", intimate recollections composed for Paul Crossley at 60.

With notes by Colin Matthews and the composer himself, this is a valuable recording which should have a long life in the catalogue and on the CD players of Knussen's numerous admirers.

Peter Grahame Woolf



Photo: Guardian/David Sillitoe