Whitman Settings

Oliver Knussen (1952)

Whitman Settings 1992

3233-4200-perc(4) - cel - harp - strings (min 12.10.8.6.6)
Duration 
12
Solist 
Text Author 
Language 
Commissioner 
Publisher 

The Whitman Settings, commissioned by the Amphion Foundation and written for Lucy Shelton, were originally composed for voice and piano during 1991. These characteristically powerful but unusually short poems of Walt Whitman attracted me because they deal with grand natural phenomena on small canvases. The idea of making a parallel version with orchestra came later, while puzzling over how some unusually wide chord-spacings could be achieved without a piano. As it turned out, the original vocal line is supported by the most intricate and kaleidoscopic orchestral score I’ve ever done (although the actual notes remain faithful to the original), and I like to think of the result as a concise four-movement vocal symphony. All four poems muse on things in space or the sky, and all four songs grow out of the idea heard in the very first bar.

Oliver Knussen

Performances 
5.3.92, Barbican Hall, London: Lucy Shelton/BBC Symphony Orchestra/Oliver Knussen
For full listing please visit www.fabermusic.com
3
Flute
3rd doubling piccolo
2
Oboe
2nd cor anglais
3
Clarinet
3rd bass clarinet
3
Bassoon
3rd contrabassoon
4
Horn
2
Trumpet
4
Percussion
vibraphone, bass drum, 4 side drum, glockenspiel, 2 antique cymbals, tubular bells, triangle, xylophone, 3 suspended cymbals, 2 tam-tams, whip
12
Violin
10
Violin II
8
Viola
6
Cello
6
Double bass
1
Harp
1
Piano
celesta
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