CHROMA is a chamber ensemble which features some of Britain’s most talented young musicians. Frequently heard in concerts and festivals, the Group is rapidly becoming an important name in contemporary music. The Daily Telegraph said “the cause of New Music needs advocates like these.”
CHROMA’s first CD is a collection of pieces by Alastair Stout, Elizabeth Maconchy, Anthony Payne, Tansy Davies, Richard Rodney Bennett and Diana Burrell. The CD also includes a performance of Debussy’s SYRINX which lends its influence to all the titles chosen: pieces about water and reflections.
EMPTY FATHOMS (1998) – Alastair Stout
Empty Fathoms takes its inspiration from a passage of the poem Orfeo: A Masque by George Mackay Brown:
‘The uncoiled line, baited, wandering deep. Orfeo and the fiddle and empty fathoms, Play a reel, man’ (From the book Northern Lights published by John Murray (Publishers) Ltd.)
I was interested in creating a work which followed a fishing line uncoiling through the cross section of an ocean – journeying from the unstable surface waters down to the sea bed. On its passage down, the line passes through different layers of sediment, converging tides, and entangles strange sea creatures until it finally reaches the sea bed and nestles amongst the rippling weeds… (AS)
REFLECTIONS (1960) – Elizabeth Maconchy
The title is purposely ambiguous intending to suggest several possible meanings. There are four short contrasting movements which all reflect in various ways on the opening of the work. The ideas derive thematically from this opening material and they spring to a great extent from the individual character of the four instruments. (EM)
Reflections was composed in 1960 to a commission from the BBC and was first performed by the Melos Ensemble at a BBC Invitation Concert in April 1961. It is published by Chester Music.
DOUBLE IMAGE (1999) – Diana Burrell
Double Image is a work of contrasts – bright melodies followed by dark, blurred sections, serene, unmoving harmonies matched with aggression. It is in two movements, and whilst each one is ‘of itself’, there is at the same time, a revisiting in the second of many of the ideas in the first. Thus the clipped rhythms from the energetic opening of the work are found again in a quite different context at the static opening to the second movement, and the turbulent piano semiquavers near the beginning appear much later – coloured differently in the lower reaches of the instrument where the piano’s strings have been ‘prepared’. (DB)
Double Image was commissioned by Rainbow Over Bath with funds from South West Arts and was written for the ensemble Double Image. It is published by United Music Publishers Ltd.
SYRINX (1912) – Claude Debussey
This miniature for solo flute is based on the legend of Pan and the water-nymph Syrinx. Syrinx rejects Pan’s love and, fleeing from him, hides in the river rushes. Pan cuts and binds some rushes to make a set of pipes upon which he expresses his grief at losing his love.
SONATA AFTER SYRINX (1985) – Richard Rodney Bennett
Five recent works of mine have been based on Debussy’s Syrinx for solo flute, and this is the third of the group. Debussy used the combination of flute, viola and harp in one of his late sonatas, and I have always wanted to write a work for these instruments.
My Sonata is in seven sections: Molto moderato, Presto (Scherzo 1), alla habanera, Cadenza (for viola and harp), Vivo (Scherzo 2), Poco adagio (solo harp), adagio. (RRB)
The Sonata was written for the Nash Ensemble, for their concert to mark the composer’s 50th birthday, given at Wigmore Hall, London, in May 1986. It was composed during August 1985 in New York City, and is dedicated to Amelia Freedman. It is published by Novello and Company.
UNDERTOW (1999) – Tansy Davies
This piece is built around a two-part line that undergoes various liquid transformations. The material, seemingly propelled by its own momentum, is forced to accelerate, reverse and become suspended, meanwhile revisiting certain points of high energy, which cause stark shifts into other directions. (TD)
Undertow is a work promoted and distributed in the British Music Information Centre’s “New Voices” scheme.
A SEA CHANGE (1988) – Anthony Payne
In recent years the tyranny of deadlines and a certain personal inclination have led me to avoid the use of pre-formulated systems for governing pitch, rhythm and structure. Time has just been too short, and the element of improvisation has come to the fore in the creative process. I have even begun pieces without knowing their ultimate destinations. A Sea-Change, for instance, was originally called Serenade, but I began to realise I was not writing the piece I thought I was. It was more like a little process of nature, whereby things grow and change without our noticing. Hence the title I eventually chose.
Two main elements, the opening pizzicato figures and the sensuous harmonies that follow, grow and splinter as the work progresses. Subsequently, a wave-like texture accompanies capricious woodwind ideas, but returns later to underpin an entirely new melody – the same, yet different. After a pulsating chordal dance the piece ends as it began. (AP)
A Sea-Change is published by Chester Music.
CHROMA is a chamber ensemble, which features some of Britain’s most talented young musicians. Individually, each member has an impressive array of achievements, which have taken them across the whole of Europe, the Americas, Russia, Hong Kong, Japan, Thailand, Israel and the Middle East; as well as all the major venues and principal festivals in the UK. The ensemble also includes a former BBC Young Musician of the Year Finalist, a pianist selected as a Finalist in the World Piano Competition and prize-winners in other major competitions such as the Royal Over-Seas League and European Music for Youth. They all now lead exciting freelance careers in addition to their work with CHROMA.