BRAY Chamber and solo works
An earlier disc devoted to Charlotte Bray (1/15) has proved one of the most notable in NMC’s Debut series and this new release of chamber works leaves no less favourable an impression.
The five pieces (written during 2011 16) are linked by a sense of distance, whether physical or emotional – not least Zustände (‘States’) for piano quartet, its three movements evoking the varied aura of glaciers as they split, float and emerge as ice fields, the music alternately calm and plangent. The subject of Invisible Cities may be urban but a corresponding ‘otherness’ is evident across its four movements as these unfold from the energetic, through the elegiac and anguished, to a tenuous rapprochement that is tellingly conveyed by the disjunctive timbres of viola and piano. No less finely judged in its writing for string quintet is The Sun was Chasing Venus, where a game of pursuit – musical and metaphysical – is related in a single movement whose vividly contrasted sections still evince a cumulative impetus as these build to the final evanescing of diaphanous textures, in a potent simile for clouds as they are caught by sunlight.
Performances are as adept and perceptive as might be expected from such artists as Barbara Buntrock and Huw Watkins, with the Mariani and Amaryllis ensembles equally committed. The three main works are separated by short yet eventful pieces for violin and cello, no less well realised. Sound is full-bodied and immediate, with the booklet note deftly combining the composer’s observations and comments by the artists. A worthy follow-up for Bray and the latest in a valuable series which is being made possible by the Richard Thomas Foundation.