Julian Perkins, Perpetuo, Alistair Ollerenshaw, WILLIAM WALLACE – Dodgson – Margaret Catchpole, Two Worlds Apart (2021)
FLAC (tracks) 24-bit/96 kHz | Time – 02:55:36 minutes | 2,97 GB | Genre: Classical
Studio Masters, Official Digital Download | Digital Bookelt, Front Cover | © Naxos
Among Stephen Dodgson’s portfolio of more than 250 works are chamber operas, of which Margaret Catchpole: Two Worlds Apart is a most striking example. It is based on the true story of a woman who was convicted of the then capital crime of horse stealing and transported to Australia, and Dodgson conveys the romance and drama of the story with characteristic lyricism and rhythmic energy. Words are paramount for Dodgson, and his setting is vivid, immediate and tonal, with some swaggering rustic moments amidst the precise characterisation and idiomatic instrumental writing.
“Stephen Dodgson was one of the UK’s most admired composers of the 20th century, writing a number of chamber operas including a true story of Margaret Catchpole.
‘In the era of Benjamin Britten’ would be a very simplistic description, but it places Dodgson as a modernist who still embraced tonality and melody while avoiding experimentalism. Born in 1924, conscription into the armed forces during the Second World War interrupted Dodgson’s musical education, before he eventually entered London’s Royal College of Music. There he would graduate and then spend much of his working life teaching theory and composition. The idea of writing the opera, Margaret Catchpole: Two World’s Apart, began to take root in the late 1970’s, its first performance taking place in June 1979. It is in three acts of around three hours in performing time and calls for fifteen soloists and a small chamber ensemble. It uses, as the basis of the libretto from Ronald Fletcher, the true story of Margaret Catchpole, a virtuous young woman living in Sussex, but who falls in love with a sailor and smuggler, William Laud, hardly recognising the devoted love of the farmer, John Barry. To accompany Laud to London she stole a horse, a major crime in the late 18th century, and when caught she was sent to prison. Having escaped, but then recaptured, she then escaped execution by becoming one of the first criminals to be deported to Australia. The ending of her life in the opera is pure fiction, though the real Margaret became highly respectable while living there. Dodgson relates the story in a number of scenes built from arias and ensembles, and punctuated by orchestral interludes. He is, in every way, kind to the singers here headed by the Australian mezzo, Kate Howden, with the young English tenor, William Wallace, as Laud; a highly impressive baritone, Alistair Ollerenshaw, sings John Barry, and the famous, and now veteran tenor, Richard Edgar-Wilson, singing the cameo role of Crusoe. The orchestra, Perpetuo, is a flexible UK ensemble here conducted by Julian Perkins, better known in the world of Baroque music. Recorded in 2019 at the Britten Studio, Snape Maltings, Sussex, the sound is impeccable both in quality and balance between singers and orchestra. A detailed synopsis is in the enclosed booklet, and the libretto is available for downloading on Internet.” (David’s Review Corner)
1. Perpetuo – Introduction
2. William Wallace – What an Almighty Fuss
3. William Wallace – For So Many Years
4. Kate Howden – Oh Harvest Moon
5. Kate Howden – Under That Far and Shining Sky
6. Kate Howden – The Harvest Is Ended
7. Kate Howden – Oh, My Goodness Gracious! Look!
8. Kate Howden – Margaret?
9. Kate Howden – The Ripen’d Corn in Sheaves Is Born
10. Perpetuo – Interlude
11. William Wallace – Seasons Come, Seasons Go
12. Kate Howden – Who’s There?
13. Kate Howden – Come, Will. Enough’s Enough
14. Kate Howden – No! No!
15. Kate Howden – Back You Devils
16. Peter Willcock – You Are Young
17. Kate Howden – Ah! Dr. Stebbing and Mr. Barry
18. Perpetuo – Interlude
19. Kate Howden – I Don’t Care What You Think
20. Kate Howden – Come In, Margaret
21. Kate Howden – Come Then, Alice
22. Perpetuo – Interlude
23. William Wallace – Luff? Are You There?
24. Nicholas Morris – Heard You That, Old Man?
25. Perpetuo – Interlude
26. Kate Howden – Impossible. Impossible!
27. Perpetuo – Postlude
28. Matthew Brook – Prisoner at the Bar
29. Diana Moore – My Lord, My Testimony Has Said I Am Her Employer
30. Peter Willcock – Conscience Insists, My Lord
31. Perpetuo – Interlude I
32. Kate Howden – Oh, Mistress!
33. Perpetuo – Interlude II
34. Jon Stainsby – Good Conduct, Margaret
35. Kate Howden – Margaret… Can It Be You?
36. Perpetuo – Interlude
37. William Wallace – We’re Clear Now
38. Kate Howden – Oh Joy of Freedom!
39. Richard Edgar-Wilson – I Know, I Know
40. Perpetuo – Interlude
41. Matthew Brook – Prisoner at the Bar
42. Kate Howden – My Lord, Always to This Court I Have Confessed My Guilt
43. Perpetuo – Interlude
44. Kate Howden – Mrs. Cobbold… Before You Speak
45. Kate Howden – In My Loneliness
46. Perpetuo – Introduction
47. Alistair Ollerenshaw – What a Joy!
48. Alistair Ollerenshaw – Ever Since I Came to This New Land
49. Alistair Ollerenshaw – Mrs. Palmer, Forgive Me
50. Perpetuo – Interlude
51. Kate Howden – Come In, Margaret
52. Kate Howden – John… Oh, I Never Thought to See You Again
53. Perpetuo – Interlude
54. Kate Howden – Oh John… I Am Almost Afraid
55. Kate Howden – Oh, Distant Moon