Knussen: Hums and Songs of Winnie-the-Pooh; Songs without Voices; Whitman Settings; Océan de terre; Four Late Poems and an Epigram of Rainer Maria Rilke; Variations; Sonya’s Lullaby

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5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

COMPOSERS: Knussen
LABELS: EMI
WORKS: Hums and Songs of Winnie-the-Pooh; Songs without Voices; Whitman Settings; Océan de terre; Four Late Poems and an Epigram of Rainer Maria Rilke; Variations; Sonya’s Lullaby
PERFORMER: Lisa Saffer, Lucy Shelton (soprano), Peter Serkin (piano); Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center/Oliver Knussen
CATALOGUE NO: CDZ 5 75296 2 Reissue (1993)
How pleasant to know Mr Knussen, and a welcome for the reissue of this excellent 20-year conspectus of his vocal, chamber and instrumental music. Yet the voice is central to almost everything here: nude and unadorned in the Rilke songs, equal partner with accompaniment in the Whitmans, layered into a chamber texture (Pooh, Océan de terre), or merely implied by piano (Sonya’s Lullaby) or ensemble (Songs without Voices). No British composer surpasses him for tight-knit artifice: 34 tracks in 75 minutes suggests a miniaturist, but the tiny movements are densely packed with material, most of all beneath the lacquered surface of the urbane Piano Variations. A lyricist, rather: Océan, if not a mighty monster, belies the miniaturist tag. Warmly recommended. Calum MacDonald

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