The Glory Tree
May 2011, Champs Hill Records
Cheryl Frances-Hoad - Memoria
Cheryl Frances-Hoad - My Fleeting Angel
Cheryl Frances-Hoad - The Snowwoman
Cheryl Frances-Hoad - The Ogre Lover
Cheryl Frances-Hoad - Invocation
Cheryl Frances-Hoad - Bouleumata
Cheryl Frances-Hoad - Melancholia
Cheryl Frances-Hoad - The Glory Tree
Natalia Lomeiko (violin), Nicholas Daniel (oboe), Lenvai String Trio. Kriesler Ensemble, Matilda Hofman (conductor), Leonid Gorokhov (cello), London Mozart Trio, Ensemble na Mara
"The Glory Tree had remarkable scoring, stratospheric singing and was performed with shamanic authority, her final scream reverberating through the cloisters." Keith Bruce, The Herald
Cheryl Frances-Hoad has a unique and special compositional voice, recently becoming the youngest composer to win two prizes in the same year at the British Composer Awards, in 2010.
Since winning the BBC Young Composer Competition in 1996, at the age of 15, Cheryl's works have garnered high praise and awards from all quarters. Over recent years, she has had numerous notable successes, with commissions including solo, chamber, orchestral and choral works, as well as opera.
Champs Hill Records is delighted to present this collection of Cherylʼs chamber music, performed in many cases by the musicians who commissioned and gave the premiere performances of the works.
The songs of the title work on this disc - The Glory Tree - are arresting settings, in original Anglo- Saxon, from The Dream of the Rood and Judith, treated as the utterances of Shamanic ritual. Shamanism also provides the inspiration for the solo violin work The Snow Woman written for, and played here by, Natalia Lomeiko.
These works are typical of the fertile soil for musical invention which Cheryl Frances-Hoad finds in literary inspiration. Stories, poems or literary ideas have provided the spark for many works on this disc, performed by exceptionally talented musicians, including Nicholas Daniel (oboe), the Lendvai String Trio, the Kriesler Ensemble, Leonid Gorokhov (cello), the London Mozart Trio, Ensemble na Mara, and others.
"This collection of pieces poses the question of whether music inspired by literary works can stand on its own, divorced from its notional programme. Certainly Cheryl Frances-Hoad’s can. Although she draws on a story by Sylvia Plath, poems by Ted Hughes and an unknown Anglo-Saxon poet, and even paintings by Edvard Munch, her compositions command attention through their well-constructed musical development and the emotional intensity of their sound-worlds rather than any extramusical narrative. I deliberately avoided reading about the backgrounds to the works in this recital until I had listened to the CD a couple of times, and it is testimony to the power of Frances-Hoad’s writing that, while my eventual swotting may have explained what the music was ‘about’, it added little to my enjoyment of it."
Barry Witherden, BBC Music Magazine (Chamber Music Choice of the month)
"Cheryl Frances-Hoad’s music is refreshingly engaging and unapologetic, with a strong sense of identity and emotional depth. The assembled musicians maintain a high level of expression and communicate the music very well. This makes an essential part of any contemporary music listening library."
Carla Rees, MusicWeb International
"There's something engagingly freewheeling about Frances-Hoad's works, the feeling that she is quite unselfconscious about the music she writes and oblivious to how others might categorise it. A number of the pieces on this disc take works from other art forms as their starting point: the piano trio My Fleeting Angel stems from a Sylvia Plath short story, and the string trio The Ogre Lover from a poem by Ted Hughes; Melancholia, another piano trio, was inspired by a painting by Edvard Munch, while the song cycle The Glory Tree sets Anglo-Saxon Christian texts but ritualises them in a distinctly unchristian way. All of them reveal Frances-Hoad's ability to vary pace and mood just as she requires, and the fast music in the second movement of My Fleeting Angel is genuinely impressive. Perhaps the most striking piece of all, though, is Invocation; scored for solo cello, six cellos and double bass, its subterranean rumblings underpin a long-limbed, achingly expressive melodic line."
Andrew Clements, The Guardian
"This retrospective of her chamber works is like a declaration of faith in the eternal verities of composition."
Paul Driver, The Sunday Times
"But what comes out of these pieces is a voice overflowing not only with ideas, but also with discipline and artistry necessary to harness them...a young composer well worth finding out about."
Kenneth Walton, The Scotsman
"The care lavished on this CD of chamber works by the 31-year-old Cheryl Frances-Hoad is patent. An impressive array of musicians including oboist Nicholas Daniel play their hearts out for her. Frances-Hoad’s skill at creating a rich texture from modest chamber forces is astonishing."
Ivan Hewitt, The Telegraph
"...this is a strong calling card showing off Frances-Hoad’s varied and imaginative writing for chamber forces...a highly talented composer to be watched closely."
Nick's Classical Notes Blog