Born and brought up in Norfolk, UK, I studied recorder and flute joint study at the Royal College of Music in London. With this combination of instruments I was able to study the performance of many styles and periods of music, from renaissance consort playing, through symphonic orchestral repertoire to the avant-garde recorder world. Although I have inevitably since specialised in more specific areas (especially early music), I continue to enjoy this broad range of music and constantly draw these various strands together in my professional life. Most recently I have also been working with the band Art of Moog – ’21st century Hyper-Bach’ – on an electronic wind synthesiser (EWI). The group gave its debut performance at King’s Place in London in April 2018.
Most of my performance work is with two very different ensembles. Passacaglia is a baroque ensemble with a flexible trio-sonata line up, specialising in music from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. This ensemble has been running since 1992, performing in venues across the UK, Europe and the United States; we have so far made six albums featuring the music of Vivaldi, Telemann, Boismortier, Dornel and Arne, including my solo album with the group, Telemann:Time:Travel. All are available at BCR. For more information, visit my Recordings page.
Fontanella is a recorder quintet which specialises in 16th century consort repertoire, education and contemporary music. Together we own and perform on a fantastic consort of fifteen instruments made by Adrian Brown, based on recent research into sixteenth century originals, allowing us to explore the music and performance practices of the renaissance era. We also own a between us many baroque and modern instruments including a modern consort of Paetzold ‘square’ bass recorders, which have proved both inspiring and fun for contemporary music.
A theme common to both ensembles is to find the perfect balance between historically accurate performance and live entertainment. This is of course largely driven by a genuine passion to undercover the history and stories behind the music we play… but also by the excitement and freedom of live performance with wonderful professional colleagues and bringing ‘old’ music to life again.
I have also had the privilege of working and performing with some other superb and inspiring musicians from other fields. These include the members of the Maggini String Quartet, with whom I recorded Gordon Jacob’s beautiful Suite for recorder and strings, and other works, for Naxos (visit my Recordings page for more information). Other exciting projects in recent years have included working on film scores for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1, Philomena and Fantastic Mr Fox, and performing for Dame Judi Dench! I have also been a guest artist on the CBeebies show, ZingZillas with my friends in Fontanella.
In the press
‘The best historically informed performances and recordings recreate the spirit as well as the sound of the music and, in ‘Telemann:Time:Travel’, the now well-established group Passacaglia do just that, combining the two to make a performance of irrepressible joy. … Annabel Knight’s phosphorescent top line teases out Telemann’s rhythmic and melodic jokes, idiosyncrasies and brainteasers with such effortless energy…’
‘A beautifully rendered account of Telemann’s inspired compositions for flute and recorder… Knight plays superbly, always with a keen ear for expression and line, never allowing virtuosic writing to obscure her nuanced interpretation. Scholarly and illuminating booklet notes accompany this thoughtfully programmed and elegant offering.’
Early Music Today
‘Knight is a highly accomplished and expressive player… I found her ornamentation consistently imaginative and tasteful’
‘This CD is a fine tribute to the composer. His music has been interpreted with first-class performances; one sometimes finds that Jacob’s slow movements are not given enough weight, but here they are treated most sensitively. And the livelier passages and movements receive the full treatment, resulting in great bursts of energy – most exhilarating’
‘Annabel Knight is a performer who seems to be able to accept any challenge when it comes to the recorder. There is a lot of repertoire I hope she records in the future’
‘Her playing is very “present”, closely recorded and not afraid to be as transparent as intimate woodwind at times requires… she exposes breaths, phrasing and a command of rhythm that are the result, it seems at times, of thinking on the spot; but without hesitation. For she’s following the composer’s ideas as they emerge. This makes her playing sound spontaneous and vibrant’
‘The highlight of this disc is the Suite for recorder and string quartet, surely one of the best recorder pieces of the twentieth century. Although well-known from Michala Petri’s performances with string orchestra, the work gains immeasurably on this disc from the employment of a string quartet, especially when played with the panache and commitment here on display from all five performers. The music is by turns pastoral, tender, witty, rumbustuous, wistful, and virtuosic – the finale is played with great gusto and is a real wow!’
The Recorder Magazine