Stephen Dodgson NAXOS CD release August 11th 2017
Our collaborative CD of the guitar chamber music of Stephen Dodgson is to be released by NAXOS on the 11th of August.
The project, generously sponsored by the Dodgson Trust, was incredibly special and it has been inspiring to work with such amazing artists as the Eden-Stell guitar duo, violinist Hartmut Richter, cellist Evva Mizerska, Flautist Octavia Lamb, soprano Antonia Gentile and guitarist Michael Butten.
The music, recorded by master engineer/producer John Taylor, includes some of Dodgson’s most substantial works that include guitar. Due to their size and difficulty these pieces are very rarely played but are absolute gems of the guitar repertoire. Particular highlights include the world premiere of Change-ringers for quartet and Selevan Story, a whitty, evocative piece, that illustrates through an imaginative of timbre a quintessential eccentrically English story.
Burgess Centenary recording
June began with a very exciting time recording and exploring the music of Anthony Burgess. Following from our concert in February we have been recording the complete guitar quartet works and one of Burgess’ best arrangements.
There are some stunningly beautiful moments, some quirky moments, whitty and eccentric humour, and some quite challenging moments. It has been a fantastic journey to research, interpret and record this repertoire and we are looking forward to releasing it as soon as possible.
A big thank you to Harry Tarlton for being our engineer/producer (whilst having emergency dental surgery and possibly the worst wisdom tooth pain of his life!).
A Fly On the Wall – LIVE Bach video
We are very grateful to the company A Fly On the Wall for filming our live video of J.S. Bach’s organ fugue in G minor. This is one of our favourite pieces to play as it is such a mini masterpiece. AFOTW’s excellent videography really helps the viewer feel like they are right there as part of the ensemble! All shot in a flat overlooking the houses of parliament and Big Ben. Head over to our video section to view.
Burgess Centenary Review
We are very grateful and bowled over by Mark Houghon’s review of our Burgess concert below:
“The Mēla Guitar Quartet, comprised of Matthew Robinson, George Tarlton, Daniel Bovey, and Jiva Housden (who first met as students of the Guildhall/Junior Guildhall School of Music and Drama), performed to a generous-sized audience at the Engine House in Manchester City Centre on Friday 17th February to mark the Centenary of the birth of the English author/ composer, Anthony Burgess (1917 –1993). Commencing with their own arrangement of the well-known G minor organ fugue BWV578, by J.S. Bach, the quartet demonstrated clear singing voice leading and an impressive dynamic range, leaving the audience in no doubt, from the outset, that this talented group of musicians are a well-drilled ensemble. Next came offerings from two English composers, a quartet (1986) written by Anthony Burgess and two works, ‘Intermezzo’ (1987) and ‘Change-Ringers’ (1996) by the evergreen Stephen Dodgson. In these works, I feel this quartet demonstrated a higher understanding of the subtle Impressionistic underpinnings of the Burgess piece (a homage to Maurice Ravel) while championing the Dodgson works that followed. These were benchmark performances by the four guys. The Burgess piece is a truly integrated work, concertante-style, as befitting the best quartet writing. The piece revealed elements of Frederic Delius (a pupil of Ravel) in harmonic language and it will surely become a standard repertoire item.
International Guitar Festival – Young Artists Platform
In the Summer of 2015 the Mēla guitar quartet won a place on the International Guitar Foundation’s Young Artist Platform Series (YAP). The YAP is a unique opportunity for young guitarists in the early stages of their concert career.
During their time on the programme they performed in the Bath Guitar Festival, IGF Summit and the IGF Residential Summer School and Festival Shrewsbury.
Some highlights for Mela whilst in the YAP include: performing beside guitarist Isabel Martinez, friend and colleague of the quartet, to a sell out audience at the Royal Hospital Bath, performing in masterclass to Carlos Bonell and supporting Xufei Yang at Kings Place in London.
The platform proved to be a great opportunity for the quartet to establish themselves fully as an ensemble, having formed in 2014.
“When Xuefei Yang gave her solo recital on the following evening, her young supporting artists were the Mēla Guitar Quartet—George Tarlton, Matthew Robinson, Daniel Bovey, and Jiva Housden— who deserve a mention. They demonstrated an impressively unified approach which stood out immediately, beginning with their own transcription of an “Organ Fugue” (BWV 578) by J. S. Bach. They were equally strong in their playing of contemporary music, giving fine performances of “Opals” by the Australian composer Phillip Houghton and Stephen Dodgson’s “Change- Ringers” (inspired by bell-ringing “changes”), which they have recorded on a soon to-be-released all-Stephen Dodgson CD.” – Thérèse Wassily Saba ‘Classical Guitar Magazine Winter 2015’
Phillip Houghton’s Opals
Aside from being one of the most inspired original pieces for guitar quartet, Mēla feel a strong connection with Opals as it was the first piece they approached as an ensemble. It was therefore the obvious choice for their first set of videos to portray the quartet’s musical character, identity and more importantly their love for the piece.
As a result of releasing their Opals videos they have had the privilege of Phil Houghton’s approval and input along with some very supportive words of encouragement, especially toward Mēla’s philosophy of working from memory.
“The Mēla Guitar Quartet play my work ‘Opals’ with brilliance and poetry. ‘Black Opal’ and ‘White Opal’ are electrifying, scintillating, while ‘Water Opal’ is simply ravishing… The music shines and shimmers with sparkling clarity… what’s more, they play it from memory and make the piece their own: wonderful music making“ – Phillip Houghton
Stephen Dodgson Chamber Music Disc
Dan and Jiva’s first experience of Stephen Dodgson’s music was whilst studying with Mark Eden. Mark’s own all Dodgson disc “Follow the Star” and his enthusiasm towards Stephens music and indeed Stephen himself was infectious. It was here that they grew to love his chamber music in particular and so in 2013 shortly after Stephen’s passing they put on a tribute concert where George and Matt joined them to perform.
To everyone’s humbling surprise Jane Dodgson attended the concert. She was inspired to ask us to perform again, this time in Barnes where Stephen lived.
With great pleasure we played to Stephens friends and relatives and afterward Jane asked on behalf of the Stephen Dodgson Trust if we would record some lesser known and unrecorded chamber works.
Now having recorded over 70 minutes of chamber music from Stephen Dodgson, Mēla have signed the disc with a major record label.