Portrait for Solo Cello by Charlotte Bray

Programme Notes

The choice of Portrait as the title for the work reflects my desire to render a depiction of the cello, using a range of tones and colours from its extensive palette. Inspired by Richard Serra’s concept of a ‘verb list’, the five movements explore a collection relating to ‘touch’. The first movement extends through tactile feelings, be they physical or emotional, external or internal: lilting, wispy, mysterious, building to end passionately and exclamatory.
The second movement, Unfold, does precisely this in terms of pitch and use of the instrument’s range, exposing a highly energised theme, mechanical in nature. It is played pizzicato throughout. Sitting at the centre of the work is To Lose (‘to be deprived of or cease to have’ something, someone…?), which captures a slow, deep and distant reflection. Then, beginning with a mellow, bluesy melody, To hold, to feel evolves in an invigorated second section, closing with energised determination and leading directly into the final movement.


Fittingly, as the cello from an extreme height descends to its depths with an intense and powerful passage, Release is both tangible and absolute. A bright melody ensues with the material echoing the opening movement. The tension is wound tighter and higher than in the opening of the movement, before its ultimate collapse.
Duration: 11 minutes