Reviews

Tanglewood Music Festival, Osawa Hall, MA, US
21 July 2014
At the Speed of Stillness, Karina Canellakis and the Tanglewood Festival Orchestra

“Charlotte Bray’s powerfully expectant “At the Speed of Stillness” (2012), conducted by Ms. Canellakis, managed the difficult feat of evoking ceaseless motion without feeling driven: It gave a sense of pulsating in place.”
Zachary Woolfe, The New York Times, 22 July 2014

 

Savannah Music Festival, Trinity Church, Savannah, Georgia
3 April 2014
The Sun was Chasing Venus, Dover Quartet and Daniel Lee

“a fine 15-minute work that was bookended by two pillars – Mendelssohn’s stirring Second Quintet in B flat, Op. 87, and Brahms’s glowing First Quintet in F major, Op. 88 – and came off none the worse in such company. The title’s scurrying participants seemed to take musical embodiment in sections that were alternately incendiary and tranquil. At the outset harsh pairs of chords separated flourishes by individual instruments in rhythmically charged passages; elsewhere, motion slowed to a minimum, without losing tension, as sustained tones underwent subtle changes. Yet within this framework there was much textural variety and ample evidence of the composer’s keen musical ear and stylistic rigour.”
George Loomis, Financial Times, 6 April 2014

 

Symphony Hall, Birmingham
23 February 2014
Black Rainbow, Jac van Steen (conductor), CBSO youth orchestra

“the gradual manoeuvre from manic energy to questioning quiet, and the handling of large orchestral forces, was skillfully done.”
Norman Stinchcombe, Birmingham Post, 27 February 2014

 

Festspiele Europäische Wochen, Passau, Germany
7 July 2013
Oneiroi, Mona Asuka Ott (piano)

“Die Auftragskomposition “Oneiroi” aus der Feder der jungen Britin Charlotte Bray reizt den Tonumfang des Steinway aus, spielt mit sorgsam konstruierten, in sich kreisenden Miniaturen und flirrenden Akzenten, die sich immer neu anordnen. Trotz des rhapsodischen Charakters und der dramatischen Ausbrüche bleibt die Ästhetik dieses Werks kühl und fern.
Katrina Jordan, Passauer Neue Presse

[Translation:] “The commissioned work “Oneiroi” from the pen of the young Briton Charlotte Bray pushes the ton range of the Steinway to the limit. It plays with carefully constructed miniatures circling in on themselves and shimmering accents, which constantly rearrange themselves. Despite its rhapsodic character and the dramatic outbursts, the aesthetic of this works remains cool and detached.”

Aldeburgh Festival, Britten Studio, Snape, UK
18 June 2013
Fire Burning in Snow, Lucy Schaufer, Birmingham Contemporary Music Group

“The premiere of Charlotte Bray’s Fire Burning in Snow – a highlight of BCMG’s Chamber Music Century – was vividly delivered by mezzo-soprano Lucy Schaufer, who even wore red shoes to match a line in Nicki Jackowska’s poems.”
Fiona Maddocks, The Observer

“The music has an austerity that suits the poems, yet an emotional current runs through the cool yet singable vocal lines that allows the singer to express the feelings behind the sometimes cryptic words. Instruments are interestingly used, as when string harmonics and a mournful oboe suggest the icy locale where the singer’s lover ought to be. Ms. Bray is a composer whom we could be hearing more from.”
George  Loomis, New York Times, 25 June 2013

 

Tête à Tête Opera Festival, Riverside Studios, London
2/3 August 2012
Making Arrangements, Grant Doyle, Jennifer France, Patrick Ashcroft, Katie Grosset and the Chroma Ensemble

“the composer had a feeling for setting words… skilfully told in digestible, darkly dappled, sometimes waltz-inflected music…”
Geoff Brown, The Times, 7 August 2012

“Charlotte Bray’s lightly and deftly scored ensemble complements her sensitive and clear vocal writing”
Edward Bhesania, The Stage, 3 August 2012

 

BBC Proms, Royal Albert Hall, London
29 July 2012
At the Speed of Stillness, Sir Mark Elder & The Aldeburgh World Orchestra

“The musical plan is lucid, the scoring deft and polished.
Andrew Clements, The Guardian, 30 July 2012

“Writing fast music is always a test of a composer, and Bray passed it with flying colours.
Ivan Hewett, The Telegraph, 30 July 2012

“Rhythmic patterns scarcely less complex than those of the Rite were skilfully negotiated, while Bray’s glittering tonal palette demonstrated a compositional virtuosity considerably less barbaric  than Stravinsky’s.
Barry Millington, The Evening Standard, 30 July 2012

“all glitter and shimmer and dyspeptic brass, opulent and highly stylised.”
Anna Picard, The Independent, 5 August 2012 

“Bray’s new piece is rather fantastical, with moments of reverie (rhythmic pulsation not far away), and enjoys an engaging rapidity. The music is constantly diverting (and superbly orchestrated)…
Colin Anderson, The Classical Source, 30 July 2012

“It’s not just the relentless & irresistible energy that makes At the Speed of Stillness such a successful piece; there’s never a dull moment, the brilliant clarity of Bray’s orchestral writing is captivating. Moreover, she displays a remarkable lightness of touch as well as allowing no little beauty into music that is often fairly hefty.
Simon Cummings, 5:4, 30 July 2012

“wonderful piece was restless, fidgety and unsettled, full of contrasts of timbre and rhythm
Jane Shuttleworth, Bachtrack, 30 July 2012

 

Oxford Lieder Festival, Holywell Music Room, Oxford
27 October 2011
Sonnets and Love Songs, Roderick Williams (baritone) & Andrew West (piano)

“It’s beautifully judged.
Andrew Clements, The Guardian, 30 October 2011

“… subtle yet instinctive word-setting that is very much her hallmark”
Hilary Finch, The Times, 31 October 2011

“It was a privilege to witness the premiere of Charlotte Bray’s latest work… Her music was haunting and atmospheric, perfectly suited to his words, and was both lyrical and arresting within a few bars. ”
Phil Bloomfield, Daily Info, 27 October 2011

 

Purcell Room, Southbank Centre
16 October 2011
Still Standing, Anne-Sophie Duprels (soprano) & Andrew Matthews-Owen (piano)

“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.”
Caroline McGee, Musical Pointers, 16 October 2011

 

Tête à Tête Opera Festival, Riverside Studios
6/7 August 2011
Midnight Closes, Rhona McKail (soprano) & Yshani Perinpanayagam (piano)

“… Best of all was Fusebox’s Midnight Closes …showed a composer who can generate a Bergian lyrical intensity through both a fluent vocal line and a richly expressive piano part”
Rupert Christiansen, The Telegraph, 9 August 2011

 

Cheltenham Festival, Parabola Arts Centre
30 June 2011
Replay, piano quartet

“… Cheltenham Music Festival keeps on trucking among the flowerbeds. New British symphonies of a conservative cast, once a speciality, have long given way to percussion spectaculars, the Swingle Singers, Norwegian delicacies, and all the important Bs: Bach, Beethoven, Brahms, Britten, plus another: Charlotte Bray.
… Bray’s ten-minute dazzler for piano, violin, viola and cello. … my ears were busy with interlocked yearning phrases or rhythmic patterns both stabbing and chunky – material presented, inspected, the reconfigured with a bright imagination and, even better, a keen urge to communicate. It was all vivid and exhilarating…”
Geoff Brown, The Times, 4 July 2011

” …the piano’s urgently explosive moments, as well as its more ethereal engagement with the string trio, could reach a final distillation.”
Rian Evans, The Guardian, 1 July 2011


Aldeburgh Festival, Snape Maltings Concert Hall
26 June 2011
Caught in Treetops, violin concerto

” … a fine BCMG performance of her lunar violin concerto, Caught in Treetops, a seductive fantasy inspired by the poetry of Dante Gabriel Rossetti and of Lorca, and played with bright imagination by Alexandra Wood.”
Hilary Finch, The Times, 29 June 2011

“Charlotte Bray’s light-footed mini-violin concerto Caught in Treetops seized the image of the moon in Dante Gabriel Rossetti sonnet.”
Ivan Hewett, The Telegraph, 25 May 2010

” …the orchestration of Charlotte Bray’s violin concerto was rather tasty”
Igor Toronyi-Lalic, The Arts Desk, 27 June 2011


Monday Night Platform, Wigmore Hall
22 November 2011
Midnight Closes, Eleanor Dennis (soprano), Gary Matthewman (piano), William Stafford (clarinet), Tim Lowe (cello)

“…highly evocative word-painting.”
Lottie Greenhow, MusicOMH, 22 November 2010

 

BCMG/Knussen at the CBSO Centre, Birmingham
14 November 2010
Caught in Treetops, violin concerto

“Turnage’s party reveals new star say critics”
Read more….

… in the daring flights of the opening solo cadenza, deftly shaping and recharging the work’s energies; in the beautifully imagined shimmerings, trillings and pulsings with woodwind, harp and percussion; and in the dying fall of the work as it slowly unwinds to stillness.”
Hilary Finch, The Times, 17 November 2010

“Propelled by an improvisatory style and sparkling textures, the piece displayed a firm control of structure and pacing.”
Elmley de la Cour, Birmingham Post, 18 November 2010

“…finely heard and very cleverly scored for a dozen instruments.”
Stephen Walsh, the arts desk, 15 November 2010


LSO / Josef Suk, Mozart and Bray
23 May 2010
Beyond a Fallen Tree, London Symphony Orchestra

“…fixing in sharp colours a distinctive world of great beauty and surprising emotional gravity.”
Ivan Hewett, The Telegraph, 25 May 2010

 

Park Lane Group Young Artists Series, Purcell Room
9 January 2009
Throw Back, Sirocco Saxophone Quartet

“a young composer to watch…. a rhapsody of great haunting beauty”
Stephen Pritchard, The Observer, 11 January 2009