Dodgson / Higgins / Bicknell - Canticle Of The Sun - Choral Music By Stephen


Format: CD
Rel. Date: 05/31/2024
UPC: 748871068629

Canticle Of The Sun - Choral Music By Stephen
Artist: Dodgson / Higgins / Bicknell
Format: CD

More Info:

SOMM Recordings announces Canticle of the Sun, an album dedicated to choral works by Stephen Dodgson. This recording adds to SOMM's growing discography of music by this unjustly neglected and richly deserving British composer (the label last year launched an ongoing three-volume series embracing Dodgson's rich and varied output of songs) on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of his birth.The performances are given by the chamber choir Sonoro, one of the UK's foremost vocal ensembles. Described as "outstandingly refreshing" (BBC Music Magazine) and "abundant in vibrant colour" (The Guardian), they are tonally immaculate and technically astounding in Dodgson's tuneful, yet challenging choral writing. They are joined in one work by Michael Higgins at the organ and in another by Katherine Bicknell on flute, while the remaining pieces feature the choir in stunning a cappella with soloists drawn from the choir throughout, and the entire programme is led by conductor and Co-Artistic Director of Sonoro Neil Ferris.The selection of works, all of them first recordings, reveals in Dodgson a genuine composer for voices - one of abundant gifts, and special among them a sensitive approach to word-setting. The album's titular piece, Canticle of the Sun (2008), one of Dodgson's last vocal compositions, sets a text by the prolific English poet John Heath-Stubbs (1918-2006). The cantata Four Poems of Mary Coleridge (1987) sets the texts for the unusual and striking combination of mixed voices and solo flute, played by Katherine Bicknell, a flautist of "sumptuous tone" (The Straits Times, Singapore) and "striking musical ability" (MusicWeb). Incredibly effective throughout, the contrast between voices and flute is particularly evocative in the wonderfully dark "Nocturne I: (The Fire, the Lamp and I)", with it's interplay between almost recitative-like flute and solo bass interspersed with choir playing the characters of the fire and lamp.'Tis Almost One (1984), is a short cantata for mixed voices and organ to words by Robert Herrick (1591-1674). The organ accompaniment is provided by pianist, organist, composer and arranger, and Co-Artistic Director of Sonoro Michael Higgins.Following three undated but likely quite early shorter works for a cappella upper voices on anonymous texts (Winter, Lullaby and All Bells in Paradise), the programme concludes with Lines from Hal Summers, a setting for unaccompanied mixed choir. Dodgson chose three poems from Smoke After Flame (1944) by the English poet Henry (known as Hal) Summers (1911-2005), excerpting from them and setting to music carefully selected lines, as referenced by the title. It is difficult not to feel the growing sense of expected war-time victory in these texts - the music reflecting an unstated hopefulness for peace and rebirth.This recording is supported by the Stephen Dodgson Charitable Trust.