In 1984 Martin graduated from the Royal College of Music having studied Saxophone and Clarinet as joint principal study under Stephen Trier and John McCaw. Whilst at college Martin won several woodwind prizes including the Boosey and Hawkes Music Prize. He returned to the Royal College of Music in 1994 as a Professor of Saxophone.
Martin is now widely recognised as a soloist of international stature. He has had the privilege of working with some of the world's leading orchestras. Some of the highlights of his career include performing with the Berlin, Los Angeles and London Philharmonic orchestras. The eclectic nature of Martin's soloist career has given him the chance to work on challenging new projects with internationally prominent conductors including Sir Simon Rattle, Sir Andrew Davis and Vladimir Jurowski.
Martin's musical experiences are rooted in Jazz, which combined with his classical training, have provided him with a platform from which to explore contemporary music as it unfolds. His passion for the timbrel differences and freedom of world music have lead to collaborations with composers that encourage the soloists own voice to be heard, and which embrace Martin's use of ethnic instruments such as the Duduk. Two such composers are Mark-Anthony Turnage and George Fenton who, in their own ways, explore the colours which arise from the fusion of musical genres.
Artistic Director: Amelia Freedman CBE FRAM
The Nash Ensemble has built up a remarkable reputation as one of Britain's finest chamber groups and, through the dedication of its founder and artistic director Amelia Freedman and the virtuosity of its players, has gained a similar reputation all over the world. The repertoire is vast and the imaginative, innovative and unusual programmes are as finely architectured as the beautiful Nash terraces in London from which the group takes its name. Not that the Nash Ensemble is classically restricted; it performs with equal sensitivity and musicality works from Mozart to the avant-garde, having given first performances of over 255 new works to date. These include 150 commissions especially written for the Group, providing a legacy for generations to come. An impressive collection of recordings illustrates the same varied and colourful combination of classical masterpieces, little-known neglected gems and important contemporary works.
The Nash makes many foreign tours: concerts have been given throughout Europe and the USA, and in South America, Australia and Japan. The group is a regular visitor to many British music festivals and can be heard on radio, television, at their renowned annual series at Wigmore Hall as well as at the Southbank Centre and the BBC Proms, and at music clubs throughout the country. The ensemble has won the Edinburgh Festival Critics' music award 'for general artistic excellence', and two Royal Philharmonic Society awards in the small ensemble category 'for the breadth of its taste and its immaculate performance of a wide range of music'.
Born in Glasgow in 1952, Knussen grew up near London, where his father was principal double bass of the London Symphony Orchestra. It was with the LSO that he made his debut in April 1968, conducting his First Symphony in London and in Carnegie Hall, New York. In 1970 he was awarded the first of three fellowships to Tanglewood, where he studied with Gunther Schuller. During this time he completed several works which were subsequently widely performed on both sides of the Atlantic and established his early reputation. In 1975 Knussen returned permanently to the UK.
From 1983 till 1998, Knussen was an Artistic Director of the Aldeburgh Festival, and also held posts at the Tanglewood Music Center and with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. In 1992, with Colin Matthews, he established the Contemporary Composition and Performance courses at the Britten-Pears School in Snape.
After many years of close collaboration with the London Sinfonietta, Oliver Knussen became Music Director in 1998, and in 2002 was made Conductor Laureate. In 2006 he was appointed Artist in Association with the BCMG. Among his many awards are Honorary Memberships of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the Royal Philharmonic Society, an Honorary Doctorate from the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, and the 2004 Association of British Orchestras Award. In 2006 he was named the second recipient of the Michael Ludwig Nemmers Prize from Northwestern University, USA.
He has guest-conducted in many parts of the world, including in the USA, Canada, Europe and Japan. As a conductor he has recorded more than thirty CDs of contemporary music, several of which have won international awards - these include Robin Holloway's Concerto for Orchestra No.2, which won NMC's first Gramophone Award, and Maxwell Davies' opera Taverner.
He became a CBE in the 1994 Birthday Honours.
- 01. On All Fours: Prelude3'25"
- 02. On All Fours: Refrain 10'34"
- 03. On All Fours: Allemande0'35"
- 04. On All Fours: Refrain 20'27"
- 05. On All Fours: Allemande (Double)0'37"
- 06. On All Fours: Refrain 30'29"
- 07. On All Fours: Gigue2'37"
- 08. On All Fours: Refrain 41'11"
- 09. On All Fours: Chorale1'36"
- 10. On All Fours: Sarabande2'50"
- 11. Lament for a Hanging Man: Lament2'16"
- 12. Lament for a Hanging Man: The Hanging Man4'41"
- 13. Lament for a Hanging Man: Lament3'38"
- 14. Sarabande4'48"
- 15. Release7'41"
Four imaginative and evocative works by this now well-known contemporary figure: On All Fours and Release are exciting instrumental displays demanding a characteristic battery of percussion, while Lament for a Hanging Man sets texts by Sylvia Plath.
"All four pieces are extremely well played, with Martin Robertson's plangent, micro-tone inflected saxophone audibly at the centre of the sound-world of each, and the recorded sound is vivid."
Recording date: 12 - 14 January 1994
Recording venue: All Saints' Church, Petersham
Engineers: Tryggvi Tryggvason, Andrew Hallifax
Producers: Colin Matthews, Oliver Knussen
Editing & mastering: Marian Freeman
Cover image: Edward Burra, 'Skull in a Landscape' (1946)
(P) 1995 NMC Recordings Ltd