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On CHROMA's live performances:

4.48 Psychosis adapted from the play by Sarah Kane by Philip Venables Royal Opera House at the Lyric Hammersmith May 2016
“On a bare, white-walled stage, six well-matched female singers - led by an outstanding Gweneth-Ann Rand - shuffle greyly distressed. Around them, phrases appear and dissolve in projected sound and video while, above, a superb CHROMA ensemble (sensitively conducted by Richard Baker) charts the disintegration of their hive mind. Duelling percussionists parley in a doctor-patient morse code. A tapestry of strings, accordion and saxes evoke polyphonies of yearning while tenderly but inexorably we encounter hopeless recesses of the mind. Knowledge of Kane's suicide shortly after writing the play can only make this humane and understated piece the more compelling.” Steph Power, The Independent *****

“The revelation is how Venables has enriched her play through music. He challenges the conventions of opera. Via an array of resources he ambushes and refreshes an old art form… High praise to the 12 members of CHROMA, and the conductor, Venables’ fellow composer Richard Baker”
Fiona Maddocks, Guardian/Observer

“Venables’s high-pitched score is a soundscape that imaginatively penetrates and dramatises the heart of this darkness. Ferocious peremptory drum beats mingle ironically with cocktail-hour smooch broadcast from the radio; the vocal writing veers between monotonous chant and shrieking anguish; and there are even moments of melancholy beauty, when the women harmonise laments for a lost life of beauty, friendship, value. All praise to the CHROMA ensemble, conducted by Richard Baker, and the totally committed cast, who must find constant exposure to such negativity extremely draining. Framed by a clinically white box on to the walls of which fragments of the text are projected, Ted Huffman’s finely choreographed staging strikes the right note of unrelieved austerity. This is an urgent message from black-dog hell, and it should not go unheeded.” Rupert Christiansen, The Telegraph ****

“But Venables’ achievement is bigger than that. He manages to enhance Kane’s groundbreaking format with his own unbuttoned imagination. His score lurches between chattering polyphony, sounds of sawing wood, and post-romantic arias, spiced up with eerie violin shrieks. In the exchanges between patient and therapist, two percussionists thrash out rhythmic speech patterns as the text appears on screens beneath them. Then, when the din fades away, we’re left with the indifferent tinkle of elevator music. It’s unhinged and chilling, albeit laced with Kane’s trademark humour. Most of all, it is dizzyingly colourful. Ted Huffman’s production does well to keep things simple, locating the action in a whiter-than white hospital room. The singers are similarly blank canvases; if anything, the CHROMA ensemble instrumentalists, under Richard Baker, play more of a starring role.” Hannah Nepil, Financial Times ****

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Minimalist Masterworks with Accordion Kings Place 27 September 2015
"the tight, alive playing of the Chroma instrumentalists and the spiky, edgy sound of their arrangements for saxophone, accordion, double bass and percussion constantly lifted the performances ... Moondog’s joyous, canonic Chaconne, and Ayuo Takahashi’s exuberantly eclectic Eurasian Tango, wonderfully played by accordionist Ian Watson, stood out"
Andrew Clements, Guardian

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La Grotta di Tronfonio Salieri Bampton Opera at St John's Smith Square 15 September 2015
"the sensitive support and accomplished musicianship of CHROMA"
Jim Pritchard Seen and Heard International

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Soren Nils Eichberg Glare premiere ROH Linbury 14 November 2014
***** "Terrifying and terrific. I can’t remember a more gripping 75 minutes of avant-garde music theatre than Glare, commissioned by the Royal Opera from the Danish composer Søren Nils Eichberg ... a tumultuous beast of a score, embracing techno-beats and industrial-level noise as well as deceptively sweet moments for acoustic instruments. That may suggest musical anarchy, but Eichberg weaves all these complex elements together with scrupulous care. It’s not easy listening, but as performed by the ensemble CHROMA it is thrilling and disturbing."
Richard Morrison The Times

"it’s an intense, sometimes disturbing, experience, driven by Danish-German composer Eichberg’s throbbing, technoinfused and melodic score, brilliantly rendered by London chamber ensemble CHROMA"
Graham Rogers The Stage

"Eichberg’s score is all digital scuttlings and rustlings, blending live acoustic forces with electronics. Contemporary-specialists CHROMA are as tight as ever under conductor Geoffrey Paterson’s direction, mining every speck of Scandi-cool from episodic music whose foundations are in theme-and-variations and leitmotif but whose embellishments flirt with electronica, dance and rock music." Alexandra Coghlan The Artsdesk

"Eichberg’s 75-minute score is often very fine, performed by the excellent eleven-strong CHROMA" Mark Pullinger BachTrack

"Geoffrey Paterson conducts CHROMA... so many exciting musicians" Mark Valencia What's On Stage

"incisive and committed playing from CHROMA" Richard Whitehouse classicalsource

"mercurial, ear-tickling score – a veritable urban zoo-scape, laced with dazzling electronic ribbons, dub beats, and a spacey vortex of beguiling acoustic effects, vividly handled by CHROMA ensemble" Helen Wallace BBC Music Magazine

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Gluck Il Parnaso Confuso/Bertoni Orfeo St John's Smith Square 16 September 2014
"We were treated throughout the evening to some wonderful playing by the CHROMA ensemble, who made a sweet and resonant sound, led by Marcus Barcham-Stevens as first violin." Charlotte Valori Bachtrack

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Puccini La Rondine Iford Festival June 2014
"Oliver Gooch conducts the excellent CHROMA ensemble" Rupert Christiansen Daily Telegraph

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Gloria - A Pigtale - HK Gruber, Mahogany Opera Group touring 2014
"Geoffrey Paterson conducted the excellent musicians of CHROMA in Gruber’s many-faceted pastiche of a score." Richard Fairman Financial Times

"It's mostly scored in the form of clamorous, dense ensemble, which the excellent cast, CHROMA chamber ensemble and conductor Geoffrey Paterson steer just the right side of chaos." Alfred Hickling The Guardian

"The music trades in pastiche rather than parody, for much of the time to great effect and always superbly played by CHROMA" Ron Simpson What's On Stage (Hull performance)

"The whole performance is lifted by the accompaniment of the CHROMA ensemble" Wilf Arasaratnam What's On Stage (Norwich performance)

"The musical ensemble CHROMA, directed by Geoffrey Patterson, played excellently, injecting life and rhythmic vitality, along with a masterful sense of ensemble into Gruber’s quirky pseudo-jazz, pseudo-rock burlesque." Andrew H King BachTrack

"the CHROMA ensemble under conductor Geoffrey Paterson were consistently alive to Gruber’s biting precision." Steph Power Wales Arts Review

GloriaGloria A Pigtale

Through His Teeth - Luke Bedford, premiere ROH Linbury 3 April 2014
"Can this be the best British opera in years? Luke Bedford's Through His Teeth at the Royal Opera House's Linbury Theatre is exceptional. Drop everything and go. Bedford has found astonishing maturity and depth. Through His Teeth fires on all cylinders. A, (Anna Devin) a dowdy 30 something looks at fancy cars in a showroom. R (Owen Gilhooly) spots her and chats her up. "I'm not really a car salesman", he says. The tiny orchestra, CHROMA, conducted by Sian Edwards, screams alarm. The small trumpet in C wails like a warning klaxon. The harp's shortest strings are plucked to suggest tight, tense hollowness. An accordion gasps as if its lungs are too constricted to breathe...The clarinet in B flat sings a poisoned melody, like a snake charmer's instrument. The cello is played so its strings reverberate their whole length, like a snake, flexing its muscles sensuously, like a snake falling, willingly, into hypnosis. The percussionist beats brushes, quietly replicating a failing heartbeat. Bedford creates sounds that are so intriguing that the listener is drawn into an invisible trap, almost against one's will. With abstract music, Bedford recreates extreme psychological complexity."
Anne Ozorio Opera Today

"The performance is first-rate. The instrumental ensemble CHROMA plays with force and precision under Sian Edwards"
Rupert Christiansen Daily Telegraph

"Bedford's score is surely his most accomplished so far, often turning down the aural volume as the drama grows noisier – to bracing effect. Simple tonal devices and horizontal instrumental lines shatter into spiky microtones. Piano, accordion and harp give a fullness to the chamber ensemble sound. The conductor Sian Edwards and CHROMA contributed to a stylish, provocative, up-to-the-minute show."
Fiona Maddocks The Observer

Through His TeethAnna Devin, Owen Gilhooly and Victoria Simmonds - Through His Teeth

The Commission - Elspeth Brooke/Café Kafka - Francisco Coll, premiere Aldeburgh 14 March 2014
"this new initiative from Aldeburgh Music, Opera North and the Royal Opera House to give two works a thorough airing with the crack ensemble CHROMA is welcome indeed." Helen Wallace BBC Music Magazine

"the ever-admirable CHROMA ensemble" Stephen Pritchard The Observer

"The musicians were members of CHROMA, a London-based flexible chamber ensemble, and their playing was a great strength of the evening under the baton of Richard Baker." Keith Clark Musical America

"Richard Baker and the players of CHROMA were excellent throughout, their incisiveness in the latter opera suggestive almost of lengthy acquaintance with a repertory work rather than a second performance." Boulezian

Cafe KafkaAnna Dennis and Daniel Norman - Cafe Kafka

Mozart La Finta Semplice, St John's Smith Square 17 September 2013
"superb, stylish playing from the eighteen musicians of
CHROMA"
Claire Seymour Opera Today

"CHROMA ensemble offered finely honed, sensitive playing: stylish without affectation"
Mark Berry, Seen and Heard

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Firework-Maker's Daughter - David Bruce, premiere Hull Truck 23 March 2013, ROH Linbury, UK Tour
"Bruce's vivid music, skilfully played by CHROMA and conducted by Geoffrey Paterson, mixes the colours of snake-charmer piccolo, gamelan and folk-inspired accordion to delicate effect." Fiona Maddocks The Observer

"The ensemble features accordion and double percussion and the nine members of CHROMA play superbly, bringing out the wit and sense of fun as well as the drama of the music." Ron Simpson, What's On Stage

"Bruce deserves credit for never musically talking down to his audience. His eclectic, glittering score serves the narrative perfectly, reflecting Pullman’s nonspecific Indo-Oriental locations. It’s very well played, each twist and turn skilfully negotiated by the ensemble CHROMA"
Graham Rickson, ArtsDesk

FWMDMary Bevan as Lila journeys though the shadow jungle, Firework-Maker's Daughter

Wind in the Willows, ROH Linbury Dec 2012 - Jan 2013
"Out of sight, the CHROMA chamber ensemble play the Martin Ward/George Butterworth score with a brio to match the antics onstage." Neil Norman, The Stage

"the group alchemy of perfect collaborators, this delightful
show has the stardust of unplanned magic over it. In this case you may actually have to kill to get a ticket, as the run of 30 performances is close to sold out."
The Arts Desk

willowsCris Penfold (Toad),Clemmie Sveaas (Mole) and Will Kemp (Ratty) dance Wind in the Willows ROH2

 

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