SOMM Recordings announces The Distances Between, the second volume of songs – including 17 first recordings – by Stephen Dodgson marking the 10th anniversary of his death.
The Distances Between features soprano Ailish Tynan, mezzo-soprano Katie Bray and baritone Marcus Farnsworth, accompanied by Christopher Glynn (piano), Mark Eden (guitar) and Ian Wilson (recorder). All but Farnsworth are returning from Volume 1.
Son of Symbolist painter John Arthur Dodgson and a distant cousin of Lewis Carroll, Stephen Dodgson was a prolific composer with a notable focus on works for guitar, harpsichord and recorder. His more than 100 overlooked songs are a substantial and defining part of his output.
The Distances Between (1969-88), sets five poems by Louis MacNeice – “a ‘natural’ for music with his keen ear for rhyme and rhythm, his sly verbal colour”, Dodgson approvingly wrote – for soprano, baritone and piano.
Three songs for mezzo-soprano and piano from the first series of Bush Ballads (1974) are “character songs” taken from Australian poets and marked by sly wit and a rather macabre finale. Setting Charles Causley, Riley & Co. (2009) for baritone, guitar and recorder is a compendium of four pithily told but evocative ballads.
Five other solo variegated songs and four preludial piano Bagatelles make much of what Robert Matthew-Walker’s informative notes describe as Dodgson’s “inherent creative language [and] fluent expressive lines”.
Volume 1, The Peasant Poet (SOMMCD 0659) was hailed by Opera Today as “an incredibly interesting and engaging disc… done excellent service by all the performers”.
SOMM’s championing of British song includes Stanford’s Children’s Songs (SOMMCD 0655), “fairly and squarely in the great English song tradition” (MusicWeb International), and Roderick Williams and Susie Allan’s Celebrating English Song (SOMMCD 0177), lauded by Gramophone as “a treat”, and Somervell’s A Shropshire Lass and Maud (SOMMCD 0615), “performances of much beauty, empathy and sensitivity” (British Music Society).
On This Recording
- I. Prologue (To Hedli) (1:20)
- II. April Fool (2:36)
- III. Dreams in Middle Age (6:13)
- IV. Invocation (3:16)
- V. Visitation (5:59)
- Bagatelle No. 2 – Serene but sad (after Selevan’s threnody)d
- Bagatelle No. 3 – Restless and searchingd
- The Lambad*
- Song for Evead*
- Bagatelle No. 4 – Languid but visionaryd
- Bagatelle No. 5 – Alert and mischievousd
- I. The Bushranger
- II. Christmas
- III. Woman at the Washtub
- The Sunflowerad*
- A Gypsy Prayerad*
- I. Riley
- II. Timothy Winters
- III. Bamboo Dance
- IV. Rocco
bKatie Bray, mezzo-soprano
cMarcus Farnsworth, baritone
dChristopher Glynn, piano
eMark Eden, guitar
rlan Wilson, recorder