Charlotte Bray: Yellow Leaves for Soprano and Piano

Grant: RTF04
Detail: Song cycle, for soprano and piano (20 mins)
Premiere: 15 May 2013, Purcell Room, Southbank Centre, London
Performers: Claire Booth (soprano) and Andrew Matthews-Owen (piano)
Recording: Released by NMC records on CD in 2014

Charlotte composed a miniature (“Still Standing“) for a concert promoted by the Foundation in October 2011.  This was a setting of reductions of 6 of Shakespeare’s sonnets, written by the poet Caroline Thomas, performed by Anne-Sophie Duprels (soprano) & Andrew Matthews-Owen (piano).  The reviewer Caroline McGee (Musical Pointers, 16 October 2011) said of the piece:

“original and memorable writing… The words and music were concentrated and beautiful …these two songs mark the start of an ongoing collaboration setting these haiku. We eagerly await more!  This moving and memorable evening was preceded by a pre-concert talk held between the composers and chaired, with customary panache, by BBC Proms presenter Katie Derham. Composers rarely do themselves justice in these events, but Bray and Fokkens charmed in their honesty and genuine passion for what they do.”

The Foundation commissioned Charlotte to expand Still Standing into a full song cycle of  Shakespeare’s sonnets, reduced to a Haiku like form.   This was premiered at the Southbank in London by Claire Booth (soprano) & Andrew Matthews-Owen (piano) on 15 May 2013.   

I am: yellow leaves;
ruins; twilight; sunset; embers.
This frailty stirs you
.(Reduction of Sonnet 76)

Yellow Leaves has been very well received:

December 2013 – Classical Music Magazine picked Yellow Leaves as one of its “Premieres of the Year 2013″ and there is a good review of it here

23 June 2014 – French premiere in Aix-en-Provence by Léa Trommenschlager (soprano) and Elizabete Sirante (piano). Video here.

12 September 2014 – German premiere by Norma Nahoun (soprano) and Julien Quentin (piano) at Piano Salon Christophori in Berlin.

October 2014 – recording of Yellow Leaves by Claire Booth (soprano) & Andrew Matthews-Owen (piano) is included in Charlotte’s debut CD, out on NMC records.

December 2014 article mentioning the piece is here

Sunday Times selected the CD as one of the best 10 contemporary classical CDs of 2014 (ST, 09.12.14).

23 January 2015 – performed at Salon de Musique, Martigues, France by Léa Trommenschlager (soprano) and Elizabete Sirante (piano) – details here.

12 March 2015 – Yellow Leaves broadcast on Radio 3 as part of a programme about Charlotte’s composing.

8 November 2015 – performed at la salle Proton de la Chapelle in Lyons, France by Norma Nahoun (soprano) and Julien Quentin (piano) – details here.

14 August 2016 – performed as a “Proms Late” concert at the BBC Proms and broadcast on BBC Radio 3 by Josephine Goddard (soprano) and Paul Mackenzie (piano) 

7 March 2017: performed by Claire Booth (soprano) and Andrew Matthews-Owen (piano) on Radio 3 at the end of an international women’s day broadcast on – here