Oliver Knussen: Symphonies Nos. 2 & 3; Ophelia Dances; Trumpets Coursing; Cantata

Audio Samples

>Knussen, Oliver : Symphony no 3, Op. 18
>Knussen, Oliver : Trumpets for soprano & 3 clarinets, Op 12
>Knussen, Oliver : Ophelia Dances for orchestra, Book 1, Op 13
>Knussen, Oliver : Coursing for chamber orchestra, Op. 17
>Knussen, Oliver : Cantata for oboe & string trio (Triptych, Part 3), Op. 15
>Knussen, Oliver : Symphony no 2 for soprano & orchestra, Op. 7

Album Summary

>Knussen, Oliver : Symphony no 3, Op. 18
>Knussen, Oliver : Trumpets for soprano & 3 clarinets, Op 12
>Knussen, Oliver : Ophelia Dances for orchestra, Book 1, Op 13
>Knussen, Oliver : Coursing for chamber orchestra, Op. 17
>Knussen, Oliver : Cantata for oboe & string trio (Triptych, Part 3), Op. 15
>Knussen, Oliver : Symphony no 2 for soprano & orchestra, Op. 7
Performers Conductors Ensembles Composer

Notes & Reviews:

"No figure in British contemporary music is more respected than Oliver Knussen" -The Guardian This reissue celebrates composer/ conductor Oliver Knussen's 60th birthday. Works include the luminous Second Symphony, which takes the form of a 17-minute song cycle to texts of Georg Trakl and Sylvia Plath and Symphony No. 3, a symphonic poem about Shakespeare's Ophelia, conducted by New World Symphony Founder/ Artistic Director and San Francisco Symphony Music Director, Michael Tilson Thomas. Oliver Knussen began composing at about the age of six and at age fifteen, Knussen stepped in to conduct his First Symphony's premier at the Royal Festival Hall after István Kertész fell ill. After that debut, Barenboim asked him to conduct the work's first two movements in New York a week later. It was as early as the Second Symphony in the words of Julian Anderson, that "Knussen's compositional personality abruptly appeared, fully formed".

Sunday Times
Here is the essence of him: his precocious song-cycle symphony (No 2) and arresting Symphony No 3 (performed by the Philharmonia)...and that locus classicus of ensemble virtuosity, the five-minute Coursing, with its long-sustained, leaping, complexly inflected unison line plausibly evoking Niagara Falls.

The Times
Knussen's musical language is complex and post-serial, yet he has the knack of conjuring clarity, wit, emotion and memorability out of an idiom that produced so much forgettable cerebral sludge.

American Record Guide, September / October 2012
Mr Knussen is obviously an exceptional musician, and even though the language of 70s atonality comes across as a bit dated today, there is much to admire. Performances are exceptional, which should come as no surprise given the participants.



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Works Details

>Knussen, Oliver : Symphony no 3, Op. 18
  • Conductor: Michael Thomas
  • Ensemble: Nash Ensemble
  • Notes: Watford Town Hall (05/11/1981-05/12/1981)
  • Running Time: 2 min. 15 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary
  • Form: Orchestral
  • Written: 1973-1979

>Knussen, Oliver : Trumpets for soprano & 3 clarinets, Op 12
  • Performers: Michael Collins (Clarinet); Edward Pillinger (Clarinet); Ian Mitchell (Clarinet); Linda Hirst (Alto)
  • Conductor: Oliver Knussen
  • Ensemble: Philharmonia Orchestra
  • Notes: St John's Smith Square, London, England (06/24/1983/08/11/1983)
  • Running Time: 4 min. 12 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary

>Knussen, Oliver : Ophelia Dances for orchestra, Book 1, Op 13
  • Conductor: Oliver Knussen
  • Ensemble: London Sinfonietta
  • Notes: Watford Town Hall (05/11/1981-05/12/1981)
  • Running Time: 7 min. 19 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary

>Knussen, Oliver : Coursing for chamber orchestra, Op. 17
  • Conductor: Oliver Knussen
  • Notes: St John's Smith Square, London, England (06/24/1983/08/11/1983)
  • Running Time: 5 min. 10 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary
  • Written: 1979

>Knussen, Oliver : Cantata for oboe & string trio (Triptych, Part 3), Op. 15
  • Ensemble: Nash Ensemble
  • Notes: St John's Smith Square, London, England (06/24/1983/08/11/1983)
  • Running Time: 10 min. 25 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary
  • Form: Cantata/Oratorio

>Knussen, Oliver : Symphony no 2 for soprano & orchestra, Op. 7
  • Performer: Elaine Barry (Soprano)
  • Conductor: Oliver Knussen
  • Notes: St John's Smith Square, London, England (06/24/1983/08/11/1983)
  • Running Time: 4 min. 29 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary
  • Form: Orchestral
  • Written: 1970-1971