Knussen's New Work - 'Ophelia's Last Dance'

Knussen's New Work - 'Ophelia's Last Dance'
Ophelia’s Last Dance, Knussen’s 9-minute work for solo piano, is the expansion of a musical idea first realised by Knussen in 1974.  It was originally intended for his Third Symphony, and related fragments of it turned up in his 1975 work Ophelia Dances Book 1 for chamber ensemble. This particular theme continued to return to Knussen, and so it is used here, as he says in his programme note, by way of ‘continuing the dance in various ways’.
 
Kirill Gerstein gave the premiere on 3 May at the Gilmore International Keyboard Festival in Kalamazoo, Michigan, then a few days later at New York’s Town Hall.  The pianist was so taken with this recently-completed piece that he played it twice! Allan Kozinn from The New York Times explains:
 
‘Each half of Mr. Gerstein’s fascinatingly constructed program began with a Busoni sonatina, followed by Oliver Knussen’s “Ophelia’s Last Dance” (Op. 32) – that’s right, he played it twice – and then a large Romantic work.
 … It begins with a dash of light-textured sparkle and a gently chromatic line, and as it grows more emotionally charged, its language veers toward neo-Romanticism rather than the harmonic density of Mr. Knussen’s earlier music. ‘
The New York Times (Allan Kozinn), 10 May 2010
The UK premiere was championed by Huw Watkins at the Aldeburgh Festival on 21 June.

Ophelia’s Last Dance will be available to other pianists after May 2011. Please contact the Promotion Department for more information.