One of the most grown-up review sites around
One of the most grown-up review sites around

Search MusicWeb Here


International mailing

Up to 40% off

  Founder: Len Mullenger


Some items
to consider

£11 post-free anywhere

Special Offer
Complete Chopin
17 discs
Pre-order for £100


100th birthday of Mieczyslaw Weinberg on December 8, 2019.
Renate Eggbrecht has recorded all 3 violin Sonatas

Works for Voice by György Kurtág


Best Seller

Symphony for solo piano

Chopin Piano Concerto No.1

Schubert Piano sonata

Schubert symphony No. 9

Katherine Watson (Sop)

From Severn to Somme

Buy through MusicWeb for £12.50 postage paid World-wide.

Musicweb Purchase button


Stephen DODGSON (b. 1926)
Dialogues - The Music of Stephen Dodgson, Vol. 2
Dialogues, for guitar and harpsichord (1976) [11:44]
The Troubled Midnight, for guitar (1990) [4:18]
Suite No. 1, for clavichord (1967, rev. 2006) [15:53]
Suite No. 2, for clavichord (1969, rev. 2006) [12:42]
Sketchbook, for two lutes (1983) [14:48]
Roberto Morón Pérez (guitar); Julian Perkins (clavichord); Pawel Siwczak (harpsichord); Elizabeth Kenny (lute); Jacob Heringman (lute)
rec. Turner Sims Concert Hall, University of Southampton, U.K., 11-13 August 2008
CAMPION CAMEO 2088 [59:25]

Experience Classicsonline

The anonymous writer of the booklet notes accompanying this issue makes much of the fact that Stephen Dodgson is a composer who relishes commissions. Indeed the list of musicians for whom he has written is an impressive one. For those who know his music only slightly, it is probably the music for guitar, and his collaboration with John Williams, that will come to mind. Two concertos, for example, were composed for Williams, and recorded by him for CBS. He is a most versatile composer, however, and if the majority of his works are on a small scale this is again a reflection of the fact that he usually composes to order. Larger scale works have appeared - I remember attending a concert in the seventies in which Denys Darlow conducted a Te Deum, for example - but the twenty-five short pieces which make up the works on this disc seem more typical of him than more extended forms.

Allied to his willingness, perhaps even a preference, to compose for particular musicians, is a highly developed sense of craftsmanship, ensuring that the music is perfectly suited to the forces employed. As a teacher, for example, he insisted that music written for harpsichord should not look like that written for piano. The works on this disc attest to that skill, but one would be wrong to stop there, as any listener who takes the trouble to do so will discover music which is in itself both challenging and beautiful.

The first Suite for clavichord was composed in 1967, but, like the second, which dates from 1969, was extensively revised after the composer attended a meeting of the British Clavichord Society in 2006 and was struck anew by the instrument’s scope and potential. Listening to this fastidious music one gains the impression that it was not the composer’s intention to reinvent the instrument for the twentieth century, and even less to indulge in any kind of neo-classical exercise. Nonetheless, the titles of the eight short movements - Little Fanfare, First Air, Plaint, Pantomime, Greater Fanfare, Second Air, Tambourin, Last Air - give a clue to the nature of the music, and the use of dotted rhythms and other, less easily defined stylistic features, brings to the music an unmistakeable Elizabethan flavour. Dodgson’s musical language is quite individual, and even here, writing for what Frank Dawes - quoted in the booklet - described at “that gentlest of keyboard instruments”, the “twangy” nature of the writing which so impressed John Williams is certainly present. Some of these pieces are easily taken in on a first hearing, the beautiful and tonally expressed Second Air, for example, and the grave and brooding opening fanfare. Then the closing fanfare, calm and resolved, admirably demonstrates the composer’s mastery of narrative drama, even within such a short piece. This is not, though, music which gives up its secrets easily, but it will reward, and richly, those who are patient enough to live with it for a while. Suite No. 2, just as rewarding, is even a slighter tougher nut. Among the six movements one signals the dotted rhythms which again feature in the Overture, and the Second Fanfare, which features sturdy triplets passed between the hands. A Fancy follows, touching and elusive, and precedes the final, exuberant Round Dance. There is a certain darkness here, and in spite of the Frank Dawes comment quoted above, this is surprisingly muscular music.

Toughness and darkness are also features of the piece for guitar and harpsichord, Dialogues. Quite a lot of the writing gives prominence alternately to one of the instruments whilst the other accompanies, and the title of the work is derived from this. The opening and closing movements are forceful, enclosing two which are calmer and more obviously expressive.

The jewel in this set is probably Sketchbook for two lutes. It began life as two pieces, Ricercar and Cantilena, composed Chris Wilson and Tom Finucane and so much appreciated by them that four other pieces were later added. (The booklet notes refer to “an accumulation of contrasted pieces rather than a structured sequence.”) The composer was apparently uncertain about this commission, but the resulting music is, once again, perfectly suited to the rather unusual medium. Ricercar is now the first piece of the six, and is a perfect miniature, expertly balanced and timed, quite simply, an exquisite little gem. In the second piece, Their Separate Ways, each instrument is given music of a different character, the one calm and reasoned, the other nervous and unsettled. I think calm reason wins, though the other voice is hardly silenced. There is a short, witty Fughetta before the two final pieces, Plaint and Farewell, each of which explores a wider harmonic vocabulary than the earlier pieces, producing thereby a certain melancholy not at all at odds with accepted notions of the instrument and its Elizabethan associations.

If one discounts the revisions of the two Suites, the most recent music on this disc is the guitar solo The Troubled Midnight. Commissioned by an Italian publishing house, this is, as its title would suggest, a nocturne, but one in which the calm of the night is disturbed by troubled thoughts. The piece never once steps out of its night-time apparel, yet a wide variety of guitar techniques is employed. It closes on a gently strummed, comforting chord which, coming almost by surprise, as it were out of the blue, leaves the listener to sit on in silence with nothing resolved, though a little wiser, perhaps, than at the beginning.

The composer is named as co-producer of this disc, so we can be sure that the excellent recorded sound met his requirements. He will surely have been happy with the performances too, as they seem quite beyond criticism. It isn’t absolutely clear from the booklet which of the remarkable keyboard players is at the harpsichord and which at the clavichord, but after much searching I think the credits above are probably correct. The booklet notes are excellent. In brief, anyone interested in music of the utmost integrity, always very individual and often very beautiful, should not hesitate.

William Hedley 

correspondence received

As the recording producer of the CD 'Dialogues - The music of Stephen Dodgson, Vol.2' so appreciatively reviewed today by William Hedley I would just like to point out a mistake in the artist listing on the disc. The harpsichordist (in Dialogues for guitar and harpsichord) is Pawel Siwczak, while the two Suites for Clavichord are played by Julian Perkins.

This was not a mistake by the reviewer (now corrected), but an oversight by whoever compiled the booklet: as Mr Hedley points out, it isn't made clear which keyboard player is which.

Many thanks for all your work in bringing us so much valuable and well-informed musical comment, and all for free!

All best wishes,

John Taylor


We are currently offering in excess of 52,000 reviews

Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical

Nimbus Podcast

Obtain 10% discount

Special offer 50% off
15CDs £83 incl. postage

Musicweb sells the following labels

Altus 10% off
Atoll 10% off
CRD 10% off
Hallé 10% off
Lyrita 10% off
Nimbus 10% off
Nimbus Alliance
Prima voce 10% off
Red Priest 10% off
Retrospective 10% off
Saydisc 10% off
Sterling 10% off

Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
Rob Barnett
Editor in Chief
John Quinn
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger



Making a Donation to MusicWeb

Writing CD reviews for MWI

About MWI
Who we are, where we have come from and how we do it.

Site Map

How to find a review

How to find articles on MusicWeb
Listed in date order

Review Indexes
   By Label
      Select a label and all reviews are listed in Catalogue order
   By Masterwork
            Links from composer names (eg Sibelius) are to resource pages with links to the review indexes for the individual works as well as other resources.

Themed Review pages

Jazz reviews


      Composer surveys
      Unique to MusicWeb -
a comprehensive listing of all LP and CD recordings of given works
Prepared by Michael Herman

The Collector’s Guide to Gramophone Company Record Labels 1898 - 1925
Howard Friedman

Book Reviews

Complete Books
We have a number of out of print complete books on-line

With Composers, Conductors, Singers, Instumentalists and others
Includes those on the Seen and Heard site


Nostalgia CD reviews

Records Of The Year
Each reviewer is given the opportunity to select the best of the releases

Monthly Best Buys
Recordings of the Month and Bargains of the Month

Arthur Butterworth Writes

An occasional column

Phil Scowcroft's Garlands
British Light Music articles

Classical blogs
A listing of Classical Music Blogs external to MusicWeb International

Reviewers Logs
What they have been listening to for pleasure



Bulletin Board

Give your opinions or seek answers

Pat and present

Helpers invited!

How Did I Miss That?

Currently suspended but there are a lot there with sound clips

Composer Resources

British Composers

British Light Music Composers

Other composers

Film Music (Archive)
Film Music on the Web (Closed in December 2006)

Programme Notes
For concert organizers

External sites
British Music Society
The BBC Proms
Orchestra Sites
Recording Companies & Retailers
Online Music
Agents & Marketing
Other links
Web News sites etc

A pot-pourri of articles

MW Listening Room
MW Office

Advice to Windows Vista users  
Site History  
What they say about us
What we say about us!
Where to get help on the Internet
CD orders By Special Request
Graphics archive
Currency Converter
Web Ring
Translation Service

Rules for potential reviewers :-)
Do Not Go Here!
April Fools

Return to Review Index

Untitled Document

Reviews from previous months
Join the mailing list and receive a hyperlinked weekly update on the discs reviewed. details
We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin Board
Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to which you refer.