The Daily Telegraph
Independent Opera's stagings of The Sofa and The Departure were a highlight of the Sadler's Wells season in the autumn of 2007. Marking the centenary of Elizabeth Maconchy's birth, these two short one-acters revealed a facet of the composer's output that contrasted sharply with the furrow-browed string quartets for which she is most familiar.
Even without the vivid visual element, this double bill, studio-recorded but with the same forces, stands up well on disc, both because Maconchy's dramatic instinct and musical invention were so acute and because the singing and playing are so good. The Sofa is pacily conducted by Dominic Wheeler, the small orchestral ensemble relishing Maconchy's sharp ear for the way that timbre, rhythm and neat instrumental commentary can highlight theatrical situations. Lyrical melody, lively pastiche and contrapuntal cunning are seamlessly blended. A consistently first-rate young cast brilliantly interprets Maconchy's virtuoso vocal lines and enjoys the fun of Ursula Vaughan Williams's libretto.
Anne Ridler's text for The Departure triggers music shot through with anguish, tragedy and regret. The score is executed with aching poignancy and passion, showing how intuitively Maconchy could respond to the knotty problem of setting and heightening the English language. Maconchy's posthumous reputation was given a much broader base by Independent Opera's sympathetic, inspired treatment of these two stage works, and it is valuable to have this permanent record of the sensibility and insight they brought to them.'