On Wednesday, an intimate audience were treated to a beautiful performance of Stephen Dodgson’s Five Occasional Pieces at Emma Abbate and Evva Mizerska’s launch concert of their Toccata Classics recording of Dodgson cello and piano works. The performance was further enhanced by the elegant architecture of the St Margaret Pattens Church, a little gem of a church tucked away in the heart of the City of London.
Alongside the Dodgson, Emma and Evva also performed Janáček’s Pohadka and Algernon Ashton’s Arioso which they have also recently recorded. Toccata’s Martin Anderson explained to us that Ashton, sadly forgotten but being gradually revived, wrote music of beautiful intensity to rival the greats but that much of it was lost during war bombings.
Below, Emma and Evva describe working with Stephen Dodgson. In the brief pre-concert video that follows, Martin Anderson of Toccata Classics tells us a little more about Ashton and asks Stephen Dodgson’s widow Jane Clark Dodgson to reveal more to us about Stephen’s personality and working practices.
Emma Abbate and Evva Mizerska – working with Stephen Dodgson
“We were very fortunate to meet Stephen Dodgson towards the end of his life and work with him on the Romantic Pieces: Set A. Stephen, apart from his ironic, witty personality, that manifests itself so obviously in his music, was a very kind, warm person, who had an ability to make people feel good. We were then at the beginning of our professional careers and working with a composer of such stature was not only a wonderful opportunity, but also a very uplifting experience. Stephen was never patronising, but always encouraged us and treated us as real partners, welcoming suggestions about bowings or phrasing. There were of course points about which he insisted, but it was always a creative process in which we had a lot to say. It would have been easy to make us feel like inexperienced musicians having to follow the advice of a renowned composer, but this was never the case. It gave our self-confidence a great boost at a time when it was needed and gave us the courage to search for our own way in other works of different composers we have played ever since.
Stephen also wrote, some time afterwards, the Romantic Pieces: Set B for us. Sadly we only had the opportunity of premiering these after he died, but we now have the great good fortune of rehearsing his music on the very piano at which he composed since Stephen kindly bequeathed his baby grand Blüthner to Emma.
We will always remember Stephen not only as a great composer, but also as a huge inspiration and a wonderfully warm person. It is a huge privilege to publish his cello and piano works, and promoting his music is our opportunity to thank him.”
Martin Anderson interviews Jane Clark Dodgson
Martin Anderson of Toccata Classics tells us a little more about Algernon Ashton and asks Stephen Dodgson’s widow Jane Clark Dodgson to reveal more to us about Stephen’s personality and working practices.