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You Promised Me Everything

July 2014, Champs Hill Records

Cheryl Frances-Hoad - One Life Stand 

Cheryl Frances-Hoad - There is no Rose

Cheryl Frances-Hoad - Don't 

Cheryl Frances-Hoad - Psalm No. 1 

Cheryl Frances-Hoad - You Promised Me Everything Last Night 

Cheryl Frances-Hoad - Nunc Dimittis

Cheryl Frances-Hoad - Beowulf

Rose Wilson-Haffenden, Natalie Raybould, Jane Manning (soprano), Jennifer Johnston (mezzo-soprano), Robert Manasse (piccolo), Sue Gill (bass clarinet), James Young, Joseph Middleton, Alisdair Hogarth (piano), Gonville and Caius College Choir, Geoffrey Webber (conductor), Nicholas Lee (organ)


RPS Award-winning young British composer Cheryl Frances-Hoad released The Glory Tree  (CHRCD021) on Champs Hill Records in 2011 and the label is delighted to continue to support her remarkable talent

"...what comes out of these a voice overflowing not only with ideas, but also with the discipline and artistry necessary to harness them." Kenneth Walton, (The ScotsmanI)

This recording of vocal and choral works is a more overt exploration of her fascination with narratives and features an array of young talent including mezzo soprano Jennifer Johnston, pianist Joseph Middleton, Gonville and Caius College Choir, and cellist Rebecca Knight. 

One Life Stand takes Schumann's iconic Lieder cycle Frauenliebe- und Leben (Women's Lives and Loves) as an inspiration, but updates it with eight poems by the poet and crime-writer Sophie Hannah.  Schumann's original, with verses by Chamisso is iconic, but in the words of Jennifer Johnston "rather outdated".  One of the outstanding features of One Life Stand is the resourcefulness of its piano writing as it traces the course of a life-dominating relationship from the woman's point of view from Brief Encounter to Rubbish at Adultery.

Cheryl wrote There is No Rose when she was just 14 for unaccompanied SATB choir, a magical part song.

Don't! (2009) might be regarded as a little appendix to One Life Stand. Dedicated to Jane Manning for her 70th birthday, it quickly takes its singer over the top, out of tune, and out of breath as she runs through some urgent injunctions to be observed in the daily attempt to keep the marriage running smoothly.  

Psalm No. 1 for SATB choir and organ was commissioned by Gonville & Caius College to celebrate the 800th anniversary of Cambridge University.  It won a BASCA British Composer Award in 2010.

For an example of extraordinary vocal bravura one need look no further then the soaring and febrilely falling phrases of You Promised Me Everything Last Night (2011), for soprano, cello and piano duet, which sets just those six words that make up the title.       

The Nunc Dimittis (2000), scored for 21 solo voices, must be one of the most dramatic settings of the familiar words.   


"Someone should commission a music theatre piece from Cheryl Frances-Hoad: this disc reveals a dramatic instinct straining at the leash. From the supple assurance of There is no Rose, composed at just 14, to the very funny Don’t to the austerely epic Beowulf (2012), Frances-Hoad’s work shows a keen instinct for text-setting within a fundamentally conventional, but often surprising, harmonic world.

Her Psalm 1 for Gonville and Caius choir with organ is particularly striking. Beginning with luminous poise, high melismas reaching skyward over a stable organ chord, its harmonies intensify and darken as she sets conflict among the ‘ungodly’ voices, who swoop, crash and eventually scream over an eery organ as its power is running down.

Mezzo Jennifer Johnston is a superb advocate, the glossy depth of her voice matched by the spirited intelligence of her musicality. Best of all is One Life Stand, a cycle of poems by Sophie Hannah, which follows a girl from dating to bereavement. Voice and piano are combined in all manner of inventive ways and it packs a hefty emotional punch. Her Beowulf, in the tradition of Satie’s Socrates, is starker but a fine showcase for Johnston’s formidable range.

Jane Manning gives a priceless performance of Frances-Hoad’s 70th birthday gift, a witty homage compiled from the ludicrous Dont’s for Wives (1913)."

Helen Wallace, BBC Music Magazine

"One Life Stand (2011) for mezzo soprano and piano epitomises the wonderful inventiveness and persuasiveness of Frances-Hoad’s response to iconic compositions of the past, and the thoughtfulness and acuity of her text setting...[There is no Rose] shows an astonishing command of textural and harmonic nuance...

[Beowulf}  makes one long for a full-scale operatic work from Frances-Hoad...’s clear that Frances-Hoad is able to fuse Romantic and Modernist sensibilities and to composer music which sings with naturalness and honesty which communicates richly and deeply."

Claire Seymour, Opera Today

"Highly ambitious, [Beowulf]  is almost a mini-opera in itself, with barely a break for the singer in roughly half an hour of dramatic narrative. Yet Frances-Hoad achieves surprising variety, with passages of largely recitative over chordal underpinning from the piano contrasted with racing rhythms to portray moments of action, and great word-painting for the serpent and the dragon at the climax. The closing moments of wailing grief for Beowulf’s funeral pyre are heartbreakingly bleak...this disc demonstrates an incredibly wide variety of styles and moods, from humour to real depths of human emotion, and shows that Frances-Hoad is a composer of broad-ranging talent." 

Nick's Classical Notes Blog


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