STEPHEN DODGSON - orchestral
Flute Concerto (1990-91) *
Last of the Leaves -cantata for bass, clarinet and strings (1973)
Duo Concerto for violin, guitar and strings (1989) ***
* Robert Stallman (flute)
** Michael George (bass) John Bradbury (clarinet) *** Jean-Jacques Kantorow
(violin) Anthea Gifford (guitar) Northern Sinfonia/Ronald Zollman
rec Newcastle-upon-Tyne 23-24
Oct 1992 world premiere recordings BIDDULPH LAW 013 [57.16]
Having reviewed Bernard Roberts two CDs of the Dodgson
piano sonatas the composer has been good
enough to send me two other discs for review.
The present CD accommodates three succinctly expressed works (two concertos
and a cantata) into just short of an hour. This is perhaps a minor cause
for grumble: there was space for at least one further work and at the end
of the disc you WANT to hear more.
Stylistically the Flute Concerto is from a similar DNA strand as the Nielsen
Flute Concerto wrenched, ever so gently, towards the Gallic coastline. Robert
Stallman admirably soliloquises in the first movement and dashes and dreams
through the central movement. An austere Sibelianism opens the finale which
in its more hurried moments links hands with Shostakovich. The music is
epigrammatic - a hallmark of Dodgson's.
The song cycle sets poems by a splendid selection of non-fashionable poets
(the full texts are given): Dobson, Rhys, Chesterton, H H Monro. Michael
George (one of my favourite singers - a truly lyric bass) carries the difficult
vocal line superbly and acts as well as sings the words as the clarinet of
John Bradbury swoops (listen to the braying in The Donkey), croons
and comments on the words. A shorthand comparison (always heavy with distortion
and generalisation) suggests Britten. If you like the Serenade you need to
hear this. The composer sees this work as a turning point in his quest for
"expressive directness coupled with economy of means."
The Duo Concerto (5 movements) is concise and flighty with neither soloist
in a subordinate role. The combined instrumental lines are clean, uncluttered
and translucent. There is no 'fat' in this music and at times (as in the
andante and the finale) this leaves some very spare textures indeed. The
violin's track often has the intoxication of Tippett's lyricism amplified
by the naturally romantic tones of the guitar. There are two other concertos
for solo guitar - the first recorded by John Williams for Sony-CBS.
The composer's notes are refreshingly non-technical and like his music accessible
to all. I am left wanting to hear more.
For further information about this disc or about the music of Stephen Dodgson
please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org