Unseen Light

“This music is delicate, initially nearly tender, self-aware, shimmering, yet never boastful. …The young winner of the Composers‘ prize of the Ernst von Siemens Music Foundation stands for finest listening experiences. Rarely has the music of a young composer managed to radiate such magic”

- Tilman Urbach: Fono Forum, May 2016

Open to Infinity: a Grain of Sand

“The pacing of the work and the drawing out of the arc of its argument is masterly and compelling”

- Rodney Lister, sequenza21.com

“…its gradual yet intensive build-up towards a regaining of initial momentum that was conveyed with no mean resourcefulness and abetted by a palpable rhythmic focus.”

- Richard Whitehouse, classicalsource.com (29/08/15)

“…as concentrated in sound as its inspiration from William Blake will have demanded.”

- Financial Times, www.ft.com (29/08/15)

“…crystalline concision and expressive precision…”

- Tom Service, theguardian.com/uk, (26/08/15)

The Years of Light

“The overall sonic mood is static, shimmering textures regarded for a block of time. But the textures are often lovely, especially at the end: Over a breeze of strings, the harmonicas, gently chirping, processed out of the hall and onto the Tanglewood lawn, a marvelously charming effect.”

- Matthew Guerrieri, bostonglobe.com (09/08/13)

“… the most immediately appealing piece on the program was the one that seemed least likely to succeed, Christian Mason’s “The Years of Light,” a TMC commission and world premiere. The English composer, a Bob Dylan fan, begins with a Dylan premise: 12 harmonica players lined up in a semi-circle behind the instrumental ensemble. (They later make a recessional from the stage.) The title is taken from a poem by David Gascoyne, which isn’t sung. Instead, a soprano and mezzo-soprano, each paired sonorously with solo instruments, vocalize as if from afar. What might be silly or pretentious turns out to be music slowly oscillating and shimmering, like sounds from deep space.”

- Andre L. Pincus, berkshireeagle.com (10/08/13)

Racing Horses

“The young composer Christian Mason, whose witty, gleaming arrangement of Huang Hai-Huai’s Racing Horses galloped home in five minutes flat, must be just the sort of musical successor that Jonathan Harvey would have hoped for.”

- Claudia Pritchard, The Independant (23/12/12)

Learning Self-Modulation

“[Learning Self-Modulation] represents the sum of a thorough research in sound, in which the players are asked to hum and pluck the piano strings… Through this music the interpreters take the opportunity to construct a universe of sensations and invite the spirits of the listeners to wander. And if certain moments appear tense or tempestuous, both musicians complete their interpretation on floating notes, suggesting a voyage in some wild country, mythical or dreamt.”

- Daniel Fattore, La Liberte (05/03/12)

“This week, an unusual violin tuning and the world’s oldest orchestra made for thrilling listening… The British premiere of a piece called Learning Self-Modulation, by Christian Mason (b1984), required both pianist and violinist additionally to hum, the pianist to play pizzicato and the violinist to retune her strings as she went along, before taking up a second instrument fitted with four variously tuned G-strings. There was a sort of new-age relish to this extremism, but a solid craft in evidence, too.”

- Paul Driver, Sunday Times (30/10/2011)

In Time Entwined, In Space Enlaced

“Over the past four decades the London Sinfonietta has had an enviable record in identifying and nurturing new talent, so although it’s impossible to predict whether the likes of James Olsen and Christian Mason will ultimately make the sustained impact of a Tavener or a Birtwistle, the Sinfonietta’s seal of approval gives them the best possible start. Mason (b1984) is the youngest, and his In Time Entwined, In Space Enlaced belies its cumbersome title to offer a bracing exploration of a sound world which is sometimes brittle, sometimes lyrical. The spatial distribution of the players and ‘the ethereal sound of 36 handkerchief-harmonicas, placed throughout the audience’ go for less on disc than they do in the hall but the piece manages to be something more than the sum of its influences.”

- Arnold Whittall, Gramophone Magazine (December Issue 2009)

“[Discs 5 and 6] are the last and best in London Sinfonietta’s Jerwood Series, which offers snapshots of young composers who otherwise might struggle to have their work properly recorded. Highlights? … On the 6 disc, it’s a toss-up between Christian Mason’s elusive In Time Entwined, In Space Enlaced and Kenneth Hesketh’s Detail from the Record, a birthday bouquet to conductor Oliver Knussen.”

- Wire Magazine (December 2009)

“Christian Mason’s In Time Entwined, In Space Enlaced is scored for small ensemble, in fact three trios – each consisting of one woodwind, one percussion and one string player. The music sounds somewhat more modern but never extravagantly so, and the composer’s fine ear for arresting sonorities is quite often brilliantly and tellingly displayed. It seems that “the ethereal sound of thirty-six handkerchief-harmonicas, placed throughout the audience” should be heard occasionally, but the recording does not make this quite obvious. This is a very minor reservation about an otherwise highly inventive score written for the ensemble’s fortieth anniversary.”

- Hubert Culot, musicweb-international.com (November 2009)

“The most engaging was Christian Mason’s In Time Entwined, In Space Enlaced, in which the otherworldly sounds of the spheres echoed around the auditorium.”

- Richard Fairman, Financial Times (December 2008)

“Christian Mason’s In Time Entwined, In Space Enlaced used spatial elements to beautifully imagined effect”

- George Hall, The Guardian (December 2008

Noctilucence

“The very first sounds of the afternoon’s premiere – Noctilucence by the young British composer Christian Mason -opened a door to a very different world, gentle and subtly coloured in a way the title might lead you to expect (noctilucent clouds are those rarely seen ones that glimmer high up at dusk). Then the music seemed to turn against itself, becoming sharp-edged and fierce, though the earlier mood somehow persisted alongside. It was intriguingly ambiguous in a way that made me want to hear it again, immediately.”

- Ivan Hewitt, Telegraph.co.uk (December 16th 2009)

“It says much for the 25-year-old Christian Mason that his new piece, Noctilucence, didn’t suffer from comparison. He draws his title and inspiration from a mysterious cloud that hovers far above where clouds ought to be, and hence shimmers in sunlight on summer nights. That is exactly what his piece conveys. The first half is audaciously hushed – very few notes, very slow, and lots of silence suggesting the Universe beyond the clouds. Then an ecstatic dance erupts, full of rude vigour, rushing scales and shuddering rhythms. Rarely can the cliché ‘Every cloud has a silver lining’ have been better conveyed. A work of high imagination, in every sense. Catch this fascinating programme in Birmingham Town Hall today or Norwich Assembly House tomorrow.”

- Richard Morrison, Times Online (December 17th 2009)

“The concert has been programmed by John Woolrich, and it consists of short Birtwistle pieces interspersed with his arrangements of Bach’s Art of Fugue, and bookended by his arrangements of works by the medieval composer Machaut and the Renaissance composer Ockeghem. Popped in among all this – by no means outclassed by the heavyweight music with which it is intimidatingly surrounded – is an exquisite new piece by young composer Christian Mason called Noctilucence.”

- Charlotte Higgins, The Guardian (January 14th 2010)

Clear Night

“The latest (the seventeenth) of the UBS commissions proved energised and bracing, craggy and brilliant, the title of Clear Night (from David Gascoigne’s poem ‘Tenebrae’) vividly suggested in the music, the score itself being tightly organised and imaginatively orchestrated, compelling over its seven minutes and suggesting that Christian Mason (born 1984) is a composer to watch out for.”

- Colin Anderson, classicalsource.com (September 2008)

“Instead of the consoling intimacy that opens Beethoven’s Fourth Piano Concerto the concert started by plunging into the glittering vortex of Christian Mason’s Clear Night. Occasional flashes of Berg and Bartok, and quite a lot of Messiaen, light up the shimmering orchestral colours, though Mason mostly manages to forge them into a sound-world of his own. At five minutes the piece did not outstay its welcome. The challenge will be whether Mason can make his ideas work as consistently for longer.”

- Richard Fairman, Financial Times (September 2008)

“Christian Mason’s Clear Night! came across as the most experimental of the three works. It is complex in texture and technique, and is cast in a single span. It uses many unusual musical effects, including deliberately wide vibrato and slow glissandos from strings and woodwinds, as well as sudden accents cutting across the texture. Mason noted that he was trying to convey something of the exhilaration of the clear night sky, punctuated by points of light from bright stars. The dense textures made this perhaps the hardest work to grasp, but maybe also the one which would repay the most from additional hearings.”

- Dominic Nudd, classicalsource.com (July 2007)

Under Heaven: sometimes…

“Christian Mason succeded well in Under Heaven: sometimes…, elucidating relationships and connections between the instruments which formed his rich tapestry.”

- Peter Grahame Woolf, Musical Pointers (July 2006)

Aspects of Radiance

“The scores came from a wide spectrum of ages… with a young York University student, Christian Mason, only just emerging from his teenage years, providing a shimmering Aspects of Radiance.”

- David Denton, Yorkshire Post (May 2005)

“Christian Mason’s Aspects of Radiance had a timeless translucence, slithering bluesily towards gentle disintegration. A young talent, and one to watch.”

- Martin Dreyer, York Evening Press (May 2005)