Cheryl Frances-Hoad - Chamber Works
Champs Hill Records: CHRCD021
An impressive and enjoyable portrait disc from a gifted young woman composer who has never paused since winning the BBC Young Composer Competition in 1996, at the age of 15.
Cheryl showed sufficient initiative to have succeed in gathering all these distinguished musicians together for three hectic days at Champs Hill September 2008, and the outcome of those sessions under the direction of Ates Orga (with whom I once spent some strange days at Malta under the auspices of Charles Camilleri) is impressive.
The music is accessible but full of individuality, much of it stemming from literary inspiration. Each of the works rewards listening and re-hearing (I have been following her music in London since we had encountered Cheryl as a budding opera composer in 2004; subsequently the String Trio at PLGYA 2007 and a string quartet based on Dante in 2010).
The documentation and presentation is excellent, with a spectacular cover image by Matt Smith, full notes by Malcolm MacDonald, and the text good black on white.
Only one questionable decision; the words of The Glory Tree are as difficult (? impossible) to follow in the ancient English (6th to 8th C) and equally so in the transliteration below. I'd like to hear that ambitious song cycle sung in modern English if that might be a viable alternative?
Peter Grahame Woolf