DODGSON Baermann’s Treasurer for Clarinet and Piano. Serenade for Oboe, Clarinet and Bassoon. Promenade II for Wind Quintet. Quintet for Winds and Piano. Duo for Horn and Harp. Suite for Wind Quintet • Magnard Ens; Olivia Jageurs (hp) • TOCCATA 0499 (80:00)
This collection of Dodgson’s chamber music for winds, spanning the years 1958 to 2004, displays an arresting sense for unusual timbral blending, as well an elegant and precise Neoclassical construction that honors Stravinsky. These qualities are best appreciated in the three quintets, which all feature gossamer textures that allow each instrument to stand out with individuality while at the same time presenting an engaging ensemble. And yet the music I enjoyed most was heard in the three duos, including the unusual but delightful combination of horn and harp, as well as the highly idiomatic Baermann’s Treasure, a set of variations on a theme by Weber for clarinet and piano. The music, written in 1986 when Dodgson was 62, is unabashedly “old-fashioned,” with no inauthentic attempts to modernize Weber, but rather honoring his ingratiating style. It was written for the great clarinetist Thea King.
Some of the music has a certain banal quality to it. Much of the Suite for Wind Quintet, for example, is admirable as a construction, but hard to love; this is excellent craft in search of melodic relevance. But even such stretches are easy on the ear, thanks in large part to the soulful playing of this wonderful, youthful British group. A minor nit on the recording—I found the microphone placement too close to the instruments.
Fanfare Magazine Issue 44:1