Yellow Leaves: song cycle for soprano and piano by Charlotte Bray.

  1. A summer's day
  2. Caged
  3. Radiant Dreams
  4. Still Standing
  5. Collusion
  6. Prophesy
  7. While the bell tolls...
  8. Farewell
  9. Old Tales

This work was composed in 2012 and first performed on 15 May 2013 at the Purcell Room, Southbank Centre, London by Claire Booth (soprano) and Andrew Matthews-Owen (piano).

Commissioned by the Richard Thomas Foundation.

Programme Notes

The poet Caroline Thomas wrote a set of 154 haikus based on Shakespeare's 154 Sonnets. The composer selected 33 of them as the basis for nine themed songs. The cycle travels through a range of emotions based on love, loss and deceit.

The title Yellow Leaves — a line appearing in the poetry — reflects the completion of the song cycle in Berlin in the autumn of 2012.

In Still Standing, a powerful and purely selfless love is presented, a total devotion and sense of constant renewal. The poetic references to nature (waves, tides) strongly influenced the composition. The love has suddenly disappeared and Collusion is full of bitterness and deceit. Attempting to forget, one feels the heart break and grief in While the bell tolls… the poet’s use of colour and again, the references to nature, are incredibly evocative. In Farewell we feel sadness and loss for what has passed. Sweet memories remain but something darker lies under the surface. Coming full circle, the beauty of love is still blazing in Old Tales; ever renewed.

- Charlotte Bray

Performance Notes

The songs are intended to be performed together as a set, but may be performed in smaller combinations or individually. Songs 1, 4, 7, and 9 work well together, as do 1, 5, 6, and 8. If performed as a set, Caged should follow A Summer’s Day without pause, and Collusion should also follow Still Standing without a break.

Tempo markings are a guide only. The piano pedal markings are not exclusive; the performer should feel free to interpret the music.

Duration: 21 minutes