Sydney Hodkinson: Chamber Works

Sydney Hodkinson composer

Release Date: February 10, 2023
Catalog #: NV6498
Format: Digital & Physical
21st Century
String Quartet

Throughout his lifetime, composer Sydney Hodkinson wrote over 250 works, covering a wide array of genres including educational literature, chamber arrangements, and large-scale orchestral pieces. SYDNEY HODKINSON: CHAMBER WORKS from Navona Records brings four live recordings of the late composer’s string quartets and a trio, Rogatio Gravis, to life with performances from the Benda Quartet and the Jupiter Quartet. With works written in dedication to family members, loved ones, and friends, this posthumous release serves as a perfect parting gift from Hodkinson — a musical display of his compositional prowess and kindness.


Hear the full album on YouTube

Track Listing & Credits

# Title Composer Performer
01 String Quartet No. 6: I. Tranquillo - Audace - Risoluto Sydney Hodkinson Benda Quartet | Jakub Černohorský, violin; Ondřej Pustějovský, violin; Petr Benda, viola; Tomáš Svozil, cello 11:06
02 String Quartet No. 6: II. Energice - Strepitoso Sydney Hodkinson Benda Quartet | Jakub Černohorský, violin; Ondřej Pustějovský, violin; Petr Benda, viola; Tomáš Svozil, cello 6:02
03 String Quartet No. 8: I. Violin Duo - Spiritoso Sydney Hodkinson Benda Quartet | Jakub Černohorský, violin; Ondřej Pustějovský, violin; Petr Benda, viola; Tomáš Svozil, cello 4:54
04 String Quartet No. 8: II. Cello - Allegro me non troppo Sydney Hodkinson Benda Quartet | Jakub Černohorský, violin; Ondřej Pustějovský, violin; Petr Benda, viola; Tomáš Svozil, cello 4:15
05 String Quartet No. 8: III. Viola - Adagio Sydney Hodkinson Benda Quartet | Jakub Černohorský, violin; Ondřej Pustějovský, violin; Petr Benda, viola; Tomáš Svozil, cello 8:33
06 String Quartet No. 8: IV. Tutti - Allegro Giocoso Sydney Hodkinson Benda Quartet | Jakub Černohorský, violin; Ondřej Pustějovský, violin; Petr Benda, viola; Tomáš Svozil, cello 3:56
01 String Quartet No. 7: I. Molto risoluto - feroce Sydney Hodkinson Jupiter String Quartet | Nelson Lee, violin; Meg Freivogel, violin; Liz Freivogel, viola; Daniel McDonough, cello 7:58
02 String Quartet No. 7: II. Passacaglia (Homage to Benjamin Britten) Sydney Hodkinson Jupiter String Quartet | Nelson Lee, violin; Meg Freivogel, violin; Liz Freivogel, viola; Daniel McDonough, cello 9:12
03 String Quartet No. 5: I. Introduction: con giustezza -sostenuto - vigoroso Sydney Hodkinson Jupiter String Quartet | Nelson Lee, violin; Meg Freivogel, violin; Jonathan Vinocour, viola; Daniel McDonough, cello 12:10
04 String Quartet No. 5: II. Introduction: con anima - oscuro Sydney Hodkinson Jupiter String Quartet | Nelson Lee, violin; Meg Freivogel, violin; Jonathan Vinocour, viola; Daniel McDonough, cello 8:24
05 Rogatio Gravis Sydney Hodkinson Joaquin Valdepeñas, clarinet; Mayumi Kanagawa, violin; Joshua Roman, cello 8:28

String Quartet No. 6, No. 8
Recorded June 2022 at Dům Kultury města Ostravy (The Ostrava House of Culture) in Ostrava, Czech Republic
Session Producer Jan Košulič
Session Engineer Aleš Dvořák
Editing, Mixing Jan Košulič
Additional Editing Melanie Montgomery

String Quartet No. 7, No. 5
Recorded July 2015 at the Aspen Music Festival in Aspen CO
Recording details unknown

Rogatio Gravis
Recording details unknown

Mastering Melanie Montgomery

Executive Producer Bob Lord

A&R Director Brandon MacNeil
A&R Danielle Sullivan

VP of Production Jan Košulič
Production Director Levi Brown
Audio Director Lucas Paquette
Production Assistant Martina Watzková

VP, Design & Marketing Brett Picknell
Art Director Ryan Harrison
Design Edward A. Fleming
Publicity Brett Iannucci

Artist Information

Sydney Hodkinson


Born in Winnipeg, Canada, Sydney Hodkinson (January 17, 1934 – January 10, 2021) led an impressive career in conducting, composition, and music education, having received a bachelor’s and master’s of music from the Eastman School of Music, and a doctorate of musical arts from the University of Michigan in 1968.

Benda Quartet


Since the Benda Quartet began performing in 2012 they have achieved a wide variety of musical successes and established themselves among highly respected Czech ensembles. Their first significant landmark was the concert debut they performed at the 60th Jubilee of the Janacek Philharmonic Orchestra in Ostrava in April 2014. The concert was recorded by Czech Radio and garnered a huge audience acclaim. Since then has the collaboration with the studio of Czech Radio continued on regular basis and resulted in a number of publicly appreciated recordings. The Benda Quartet have worked intensively together with the Janáček Philharmonic Orchestra and artist management agency Janáčkův Máj on numerous chamber music and educational projects.

Jupiter String Quartet


The Jupiter String Quartet is a particularly intimate group, consisting of violinists Nelson Lee and Meg Freivogel, violist Liz Freivogel (Meg’s older sister), and cellist Daniel McDonough (Meg’s husband, Liz’s brother-in-law). Now enjoying their 20th year together, this tight-knit ensemble is firmly established as an important voice in the world of chamber music.

The quartet has performed in some of the world’s finest halls, including New York City’s Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center, London’s Wigmore Hall, Boston’s Jordan Hall, Mexico City’s Palacio de Bellas Artes, Washington, D.C.’s Kennedy Center and Library of Congress, Austria’s Esterhazy Palace, and Seoul’s Sejong Chamber Hall. Their major music festival appearances include the Aspen Music Festival and School, Bowdoin International Music Festival, Cape Cod Chamber Music Festival, Rockport Music Festival, Music at Menlo, the Seoul Spring Festival, and many others. In addition to their performing career, they have been artists-in-residence at the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana since 2012, where they maintain private studios and direct the chamber music program.

Their chamber music honors and awards include the grand prizes in the Banff International String Quartet Competition and the Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition; the Young Concert Artists International auditions in New York City; the Cleveland Quartet Award from Chamber Music America; an Avery Fisher Career Grant; and a grant from the Fromm Foundation. From 2007-2010, they were in residence at the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center’s Chamber Music Two.

The quartet’s latest album is a collaboration with the Jasper String Quartet (Marquis Classics, 2021), produced by Grammy-winner Judith Sherman. This collaborative album features the world premiere recording of Dan Visconti’s Eternal Breath, Felix Mendelssohn’s Octet in E-flat, Op. 20, and Osvaldo Golijov’s Last Round. The quartet’s discography also includes numerous recordings on labels including Azica Records and Deutsche Grammophon.

The quartet chose its name because Jupiter was the most prominent planet in the night sky at the time of its formation and the astrological symbol for Jupiter resembles the number four. | Photo by Sarah Gardner

Joaquin Valdepeñas


A prolific recording artist, Joaquin Valdepeñas won his second Juno Award for his recording, Levant, with his Amici Chamber Ensemble, and was a GRAMMY Award nominee for two years in a row in the chamber music category — both on the Sony BMG label as part of his ARC Ensemble collaboration.

Valdepeñas was appointed principal clarinetist of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra upon graduation from Yale University and makes international appearances as a soloist, chamber musician, and conductor. Considered one of the most distinguished clarinetists of his generation, Valdepeñas has made over three dozen recordings. Commissioning many works by Canadian composers, Valdepeñas gave the American première of Arias for Clarinet and Orchestra by Michael Colgrass with the Buffalo Philharmonic. His European debut was broadcast on BBC Television conducted by Sir Andrew Davis. Valdepeñas has been a faculty member of the Aspen Music Festival and school for over 25 years and is currently on the faculty of the Glenn Gould School at the Royal Conservatory of Music. As an exclusive Yamaha artist, he was instrumental in the design of the new CSG Yamaha clarinet combining the French and German traditions into one unique voice.

Mayumi Kanagawa


Mayumi Kanagawa (1994) is a Berlin based, Japanese-American violinist praised for her rich, dark sound and focused, engaging musicality, active as both soloist and chamber musician in Europe, Japan, and the United States.

Mayumi has performed with many orchestras including the Mariinsky Orchestra, NHK Symphony Orchestra, Belgian National Symphony, Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra, among others. Her unique talent for communicating the love and joy of music making in varied repertoire and venues has also brought her to many outreach programs and schools around the world, from San Francisco to Novosibirsk.

Mayumi’s musical education has been shaped by Kolja Blacher, Yoshiko Nakura, Masao Kawasaki, and Robert Lipsett.

Joshua Roman


Joshua Roman is a cellist, accomplished composer, and curator whose performances embrace musical styles from Bach to Radiohead. Before setting off as a soloist, Roman was the Seattle Symphony’s principal cellist – a job he began at 22 years old and left only two years later. He has since become renowned for his genre-bending repertoire and wide-ranging collaborations.

Roman was named a TED Senior Fellow in 2015. His live performance of the complete Six Suites for Solo Cello by J.S. Bach on TED’s Facebook Page garnered nearly one million live viewers, with millions more for his Main Stage TED Talks/Performances, including an improvisational performance with Tony-winner/MacArthur Genius Grant recipient Bill T. Jones and East African vocalist Somi.

Roman’s adventurous spirit has led to collaborations with artists outside the music community, including creating “On Grace” with Tony-nominated actor Anna Deavere Smith. His compositions are inspired by sources such as the poetry of Pulitzer Prize-winner Tracy K. Smith, and the musicians he writes for, such as the JACK Quartet, violinist Vadim Gluzman, and conductor David Danzmayr. Roman’s endeavors outside the concert hall have taken him to Uganda with his violin-playing siblings, where they played chamber music in schools, HIV/AIDS centers, and displacement camps.


The most straightforward and shortest of any of my string quartets to date, the sixth employs only two thematic gestures which are used, perhaps obsessively, throughout: (a) brief melodic lines formed principally of sevenths, and (b) an ascending scale. The formal design is born out of the continual combining, interweaving, and juxtaposition of these two elements, which collect themselves into two movements played without pause: the first predominantly slow and pensive, the second rhythmic and driving. String Quartet No. 6 is approximately 16 minutes in duration. The score was commissioned by the Los Angeles-based Calder Quartet, four extremely talented young musicians with whom I performed at the Aspen CO Music Festival, and is dedicated to my wife, Elizabeth, on the occasion of our 50 years together. The first movement is written in memory of my father-in-law Howard Deischer (1907-2005), who died during the course of composing. The work was completed in April of 2005 in Ormond-by-the-Sea FL.

— Sydney Hodkinson

My Eighth and Ninth String Quartets, begun in late 2017, are sonic cousins. Akin to real cousins, each piece exhibits differing natures. They were requested by two ensembles that have become a second families to me: The Jupiter Quartet of Urbana IL and the Amernet Quartet, based in Miami FL. Their collective dedication to, and care for, our art remains a personal and constant are-fuelinga for me. The quartets were commissioned by, and dedicated to, Margaret and Philip Verleger of Denver CO. Additional financial support was provided by the School of Music at Stetson University, Timothy Peter, Dean. String Quartet No. 8 is laid out in a classical four-movement design. The work does break somewhat from conventional tradition by often placing quartet members into soloistic roles as the movement titles note. The opening piece presents at the outset a three-note motto which is turned over, tumbled, and energetically discussed, primarily by a violin duet. It is a duel. The two players part company only infrequently during the movement’s progress, pausing briefly for other commentary by their lower cohorts, the Viola and Cello do not argue, but abet their friends’ efforts. The piece’s overall character is fairly bright and dancelike, closing in an unresolved standoff. Two principal sound objects stitch the second movement scherzo together: sliding hands (glissandos) and a plucked shuffle (pizzicato) — both instigated by the (solo) cellist. The others are influenced — or are not — by their leaders, and follow — or interrupt — the cello throughout their four-voiced conversation. The third movement (the longest of the set) is an elegy dedicated to the memory of a close personal friend, the American composer David Maslanka (1943 – 2017). Its genesis is a simple five-note melody derived from my own name (SaC/DaC/EaC/H). This line commences in the (solo) viola and is obsessively uttered without relief during the movement’s lamentations. The closing movement revisits much of that opening three-note material, but now dressed up for the full quartet to view. It is a slowly accelerating romp which — twice — cannot avoid a nod to the Amernet and Jupiter performers by offering a humble bow to the 4th movement of Gustav Holst’s PLANETS – Jupiter: The Bringer of Jollity. My quartet serves as an honoring salute of thanks for the talent, respect, and friendship of these two young quartets. String Quartet No. 8 is roughly 22 minutes in duration. It was written as an homage to Franz Joseph Haydn, and completed in Holly Hill FL in early April of 2019.

— Sydney Hodkinson

Hodkinson’s String Quartet No. 7 premiered on Saturday evening’s program in Harris Hall (Aspen Festival, July 26), where it was played by the Jupiter String Quartet. The piece is most absorbing in its second half, a spooky passacaglia with all sorts of colorful articulations and sonorities to liven it up before it glides to a gentle finish. (Seen and Heard International, Harvey Steiman).

After finishing a serious woodwind quintet in the fall of 2001 [Tela Lacerata], I found, in the ensuing months, that its cinders/ashes were still impregnating my eardrums. Therefore, when I set out to write the present string piece, I realized that the musical veins of the quartet, like related cousins, were sharing the same blood as the earlier wind composition. The resultant Fifth Quartet evolved into two large, extended movements, each one containing seven parts that are played without pause. As the list of the various sub-sections clearly indicates, the formal structure of the movements appear to be identical: each with three main parts enveloped by interludes, plus an introduction and coda. However, the principal segments of the first (slow) movement gradually decrease in length, while those of the second (fast) movement increase. In addition, there is a godly amount of sonic material stolen from the first movement which reappears — stitched together in a new guise — into the world of the second. For example, the bulk of Parts B and C of Movement II are lifted bodily, although elaborately modified, from their first appearances in the Introduction and Part A of the first movement. This offers, I suppose, at least a hint of a traditional recapitulation. As was true in the earlier woodwind piece, both harmonically and melodically, the embryonic growth of the musical fabric (primarily the tritone and perfect fifth) is omnipresent, almost obsessively, throughout the course of the whole work. These two intervals, not unlike plasticine, habitually transform themselves into the scales, chords, and melodic lines that pervade the texture of the quartet. Owing to the largely unrelieved dramatic flow, the shifting speed, and the often fervent intensity, the quartet places considerable demands on the dexterity, virtuosity, and stamina of the four performers. String Quartet No. 5 is approximately 22 minutes in duration and affectionately dedicated to my violinist wife Elizabeth, as a gift for our 47 years together. It was commissioned by the Corigliano String Quartet, New York NY.

— Sydney Hodkinson