Divertimenti Ensemble

Divertimenti Ensemble
Uniquely, four of the players in this outstanding ensemble were founder members at its inception in 1978. All five are top ranking players with a wealth of world wide concert experience between them, as soloists and orchestral principals as well as chamber music players. Long standing friends, they share an evergreen love of music making, and a passion for the rich sonorities of the string ensemble repertoire. Although the core group is a quintet for two cellos, Divertimenti can expand to sextets and octets, spread sideways to quintets for two violas and shrink to quartets, trios, duos and solos. This unusual flexibility is supported by energetic and innovative programming. The centrepiece is naturally the great C major Quintet for two cellos by Schubert. However, Divertimenti has a long tradition of breaking new ground with adventurous repertoire, and championing the work of lesser known composers.

Knussen, Oliver


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.

Image Credit: 
Clive Barda

Maxwell, Melinda


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.

Haffner Wind Ensemble

Haffner Wind Ensemble
The Haffner Wind Ensemble is one of Britain’s leading chamber ensembles and one of the most established wind quintets in Britain. Each member of the ensemble is a chamber musician and a soloist as well as a principal of the Britten Sinfonia; in addition, all are experienced teachers in the UK and abroad. The breadth of their musical experience as individuals and their extensive work together in the Britten Sinfonia combine to create a secure and fluent ensemble, one which plays with freshness and vivacity and which excels not only in the classics of the wind repertoire but also in contemporary music. - See more at:
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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

DivertimentoTriptych and the Oboe Quartet No.1 were originally released on Auracle Records. 

Faber Music
Catalogue number:
NMC D149
Release Date:
14 July 2008