In the obituary I wrote for Stephen Dodgson (1924-2013; for The Gramophone; quoted in Toccata’s booklet) I commented that his “often angular melodies have a knack of registering in the memory and are beautifully laid out for the instruments. …His mature style was one of refinement, sitting somewhere between post-Romanticism and Neoclassicism.” Dodgson may not be as familiar a name as his music deserves but after listening to this disc of his two Piano Quintets (dating from 1966 and 1999 respectively) separated by his String Quintet of 1986, I am sure you will agree he should be much better known. Do not be fooled by the dates into thinking this a programme of difficult “modern” music: Dodgson’s quintets are written in a tonal language that is approachable and appealing (yet never easy) yet recognisably late twentieth century in idiom.
Refinement is the best word to describe these first-class performances by the Tippett Quartet, joined by the nimble-fingered Emma Abbate in the Piano Quintets and Susan Monks as the additional cellist in the String Quintet; a model of chamber ensemble playing. With superb sound, this is as marvellous a disc as the Matthews Piano Trios I reviewed two months ago.