Songs without Voices, composed in 1991–2, is a set of four pieces for small instrumental ensemble comprising flute, cor anglais, clarinet, horn, piano, violin, viola and cello, lasting about eleven minutes. It follows on naturally from Knussen's Whitman Settings which preceded it, as three of its four movements derive their main melodic lines from purely instrumental settings of Whitman texts from the collection Leaves of Grass. Indeed the first movement's source text, Soon shall the winter's foil be here, is placed by Whitman in the collection immediately after The Voice of the Rain, the final text of Knussen's Whitman Settings.
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