ROYAL ACADEMY OF MUSIC MANSON ENSEMBLE KNUSSEN
The fifth recording from the talented students of London’s Royal Academy pairs Stravinsky’s The Soldier’s Tale with music by Harrison Birtwistle and Peter Maxwell Davies. For his debut recording with Linn, conductor Oliver Knussen has assembled an impressive cast of contemporary composers for The Soldier’s Tale: Harrison Birtwistle as the soldier and George Benjamin as the Devil, with actress Dame Harriet Walter as the narrator. The longest work on this release, The Soldier’s Tale mixes fiendishly difficult changes of time signature with Stravinsky’s newly discovered love of jazz with melodies which echo his larger pre-war scores. It is also a work that demonstrates immense clarity and moving simplicity at times, and a sardonic wit at others. With such a starry cast this recording will be of particular interest to those with an interest in contemporary music, especially considering the addition of two new Birtwistle world premiere versions of Chorale from a Toy Shop written specially for the recording. The rest of the programme includes an exquisite Knussen arrangement of Maxwell Davies’ Canon ad honorem Igor Stravinsky, intermixed with Stravinsky’s own late commemorative miniatures. One of the pre-eminent composer-conductors in the world today, Oliver Knussen CBE is presently Sir Richard Rodney Bennett Professor of Music at the Royal Academy of Music.