Premiered in February 1979, George Benjamin’s Octet was begun only months after the conclusion of his studies with Olivier Messiaen and was his first attempt to integrate all that he had learnt in Paris on an instrumental canvas. The colourful 10-minute work (scored for flute, clarinet, percussion, celesta and four strings) has a general scherzando character, occasionally punctured by moments of lyricism or strident dynamism.
‘The sheer technical aplomb of the work continues to amaze. Benjamin wrote it when he was eighteen; the beautifully dappled structure and wonderfully imagined effects seem to evidence a far deeper maturity.’
Financial Times (Andrew Clements), 24 February 1987