Alfreda Hodgson

Alfreda Hodgson


• 1940 1992


The tragically short-lived Alfreda Hodgson had become one of England's most-respected mezzo-sopranos, regarded with much affection by many colleagues and conductors who were all inspired by her deep and intuitive musicianship. Her voice was a full mezzo-soprano (or mezzo-contralto) of great warmth, if sometimes one of imperfect steadiness. Her interpretations, however, frequently probed far beneath surface elements to reach a life-altering musical truth. While she occasionally sang in opera, her greatest imprint was made on the concert stage, both in recital and in orchestral performance. Many recordings survive to attest to her stature as a singer. Hodgson received her formal training at the Northern School of Music in Manchester and made her first concert appearance in Liverpool in 1961. Two years later, she made her London debut, after which engagements followed with many of England's principal orchestras. Within the next decade, she traveled to America and Israel, continually expanding her repertory. In 1974, she accepted a contract with the English National Opera and she later sang at Covent Garden (1983), but she principally remained a concert artist. Her interests were wide ranging, from music of the Baroque to scores by contemporary composers. Within Hodgson's recorded legacy are many significant items. Her Das Lied von der Erde with conductor Jascha Horenstein is regarded as among the best ever. Hodgson's heart-piercing poignancy is matched by Horenstein's own in leading the live performance. The mezzo's singing of the alto arias in Robert Shaw's final recording of Messiah was striking, as was her work in an English-language recording of Bach's St. John Passion led by Benjamin Britten. Hodgson recorded Elgar's The Kingdom twice and left a memento of her way with the music of Michael Tippett when she recorded Sosostris' aria under the direction of the composer himself. Other important discs included those devoted to an English-language Bach St. Matthew Passion directed by David Willcocks, madrigals by Monteverdi, and Rossini's Petite messe solonnelle conducted by Laszlo Heltay.