KNUSSEN Oliver, Ophelia’s Last Dance

Ophelia’s Last Dance (Ophelia Dances, Book 2) is based on a melody dating from early in 1974, which was among several ideas intended for – but ultimately excluded from – Oliver Knussen’s Third Symphony (1973-79). Some of these evolved into the ensemble piece Ophelia Dances, Book 1 (1975), but this one, which nonetheless continued to haunt him from time to time over the years. After the death of his wife, Sue Knussen, it reminded the composer of a happier time and eventually, on the occasion of Paul Crossley’s 60th birthday recital in 2004, he decided to give it a tiny frame of its own so it could be shared with listeners other than the one in his head. The present 10-minute work – written in 2009/10 – is the result. A number of other ‘homeless’ dance-fragments, related more by personal history and mood than by anything more concrete, are bound together by means of variously wrought transitions to and from rondo-like recurrences of the original melody.



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