“I recovered an old enthusiasm for writing songs, and it occurred to me to try to apply this to the instrumental sphere”, Oliver Knussen said of 1992’s Songs without Voices for eight instruments. Knussen combines flute, cor anglais, clarinet, horn, violin, viola, cellos and piano in four pieces lasting a total of 11 minutes. The first three – Fantastico (Winter’s Foil); Maestoso (Prairie Sunset); Leggiero (First Dandelion) – set words by Walt Whitman to instrumental lines. The final movement – Elegiac Arabesques – is in memory of Andrzej Panufnik, led by cor anglais and clarinet.
“…four small, magically lyrical ruminations in each of which a single instrumental voice…sings out above its economically picturesque accompaniment.”
Financial Times (Max Loppert), 16 June 1992