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.
Melinda Maxwell read music at York University and studied in Germany with Ingo Goritzki and Helmut Winschermann. She has performed as soloist at many major UK and European festivals, and is frequently heard in recital and on BBC Radio 3. Numerous works have been written especially for Melinda, by composers including Nicholas Maw, Sir Harrison Birtwistle and Simon Holt. Melinda is also an accomplished composer herself.
In addition to her work as a recitalist, Melinda is principal oboe of the Endymion Ensemble and BCMG, and performs regularly as principal with the London Sinfonietta.
She has taught at the Royal Academy of Music and Trinity College in London and has been giving master-classes at the Dartington International Summer School since 1992. She also coaches at the Britten-Pears and NYO summer courses, and is Consultant in Woodwind Studies at RNCM in Manchester.
Her numerous recordings include Melinda Maxwell in Manchester: Music for Oboe from the RNCM, Birtwistle's 26 Orpheus Elegies and Pulse Sampler for NMC.
- 01. Divertimento for Double String Quartet: Aria capricciosa7'44"
- 02. Divertimento for Double String Quartet: Intermezzo4'08"
- 03. Divertimento for Double String Quartet: Aria conclusa8'01"
- 04. Oboe Quartet No.111'03"
- 05. Triptych6'29"
- 06. Five Concertinos for Wind Quintet: Quasi Improvisando1'59"
- 07. Five Concertinos for Wind Quintet: Molto vivo1'59"
- 08. Five Concertinos for Wind Quintet: Molto meccanico2'15"
- 09. Five Concertinos for Wind Quintet: Calmo2'47"
- 10. Five Concertinos for Wind Quintet: Agitato1'52"
- 11. String Quartet No.2: Presto4'58"
- 12. String Quartet No.2: Intermezzo 1 - Prestissimo1'23"
- 13. String Quartet No.2: Scherzo & Trio - Vigoroso - Brutale2'19"
- 14. String Quartet No.2: Interlude - Largo0'45"
- 15. String Quartet No.2: Intermezzo 2 - Chorale: L'istesso tempo3'17"
- 16. String Quartet No.2: Tempo giusto (Presto)1'44"
This disc of Colin Matthews' chamber music brings together works previously issued only on LP, from the Schubert and Divertimenti Ensembles, with an unreleased recording by the Brindisi Quartet of String Quartet No.2. The disc is completed with Five Concertinos for Wind Quintet, performed by Nicholas Daniel's Haffner Ensemble.
"In this collection of Colin Matthews' chamber music from the 1980s, the most important item is the newcomer, a 1996 recording of Matthews' Second String Quartet. Completed in 1989, it's a taut, compelling piece that brings together all the ingredients of Matthews' musical language at the time and weaves them into a rigorous discourse that has an almost Elliott Carter-like energy and intensity." The Guardian
The Sunday Times Pick of 2008
Colin Matthews’s music is published by Faber Music.
Divertimento, Oboe Quartet and Triptych were recorded at Rosslyn Hill Chapel, London, on 26-27 May and 8 July 1985.
Recording Engineer: JULES SMITH; Producer: RICK POTTER; Co-producer: COLIN MATTHEWS
Five Concertinos were recorded at St Silas the Martyr, Kentish Town, on 9 November 1993.
Recording Engineer: MIKE SKEET; Producer: COLIN MATTHEWS
String Quartet No.2 was recorded at All Saints Church, Petersham on 8-9 December 1996.
Recording Engineer: TRYGGVI TRYGGVASON; Producer: COLIN MATTHEWS; Editor: MARIAN FREEMAN; Remastering: BEN TURNER for Finesplice; Executive Producer: COLIN MATTHEWS
Cover design: FRANCOIS HALL
Cover photo Blue-green alga, anabaena spiroides © OTTO JIROVEC. By kind permission of Charles University, Prague and Professor Jirovec’s family
Divertimento,Triptych and Oboe Quartet (P) 2008 ACE
Five Concertinos (P) 1994 Ensemble Music Label
String Quartet No.2 (P) 2008 Colin Matthews
© 2008 NMC Recordings Ltd
Divertimento, Triptych and the Oboe Quartet No.1 were originally released on Auracle Records.