John Joubert, Wells Cathedral Choir, Matthew Owens - St Mark Passion, Missa Wellensis, Locus Iste

Published Monday 18th September 2017
John Joubert, Wells Cathedral Choir, Matthew Owens - St Mark Passion, Missa Wellensis, Locus Iste
John Joubert, Wells Cathedral Choir, Matthew Owens  - St Mark Passion, Missa Wellensis, Locus Iste

STYLE: Choral
RATING 8 8 8 8 8 8 8 8
OUR PRODUCT CODE: 167280-26028
LABEL: Resonus RES10198

Reviewed by Steven Whitehead

John Joubert is probably best known for his now standard Christmas carols, "Torches" from 1951 and "There Is No Rose" from 1954. Happily he is still going strong and 2017 sees his 90th birthday celebrated with this release of three debut recordings, commissioned for and first performed by the cathedral choir at Wells. The programme has at its heart the extended St Mark Passion, a profound and heartfelt retelling of the well-known story. Of course Joubert is not the first to compose on Mark's account of the death of Jesus, a fact acknowledged with his skilful use of "O Sacred Head" and "When I Survey" as chorales as the work reaches its climax. I enjoyed this Passion and have nothing but praise for soloists and choir. Special mention must be made of narrator Peter Auty (tenor) and baritone Benjamin Bevan as Jesus but there are no weak links at all. Whether this work will enter the repertoire outside of Somerset only time will tell. Certainly I will gladly buy a ticket if ever any of my local choral societies put it on but they usually play it safe and stick with Bach and Handel. "Missa Wellensis" followed a master-class in composition at Wells Cathedral School in 2013 and is here given an acappella performance by the Cathedral Choir under Matthew Owens. As with the Passion there are so many Masses out there that I do not expect this to be heard outside of Wells, unless the choir takes it on tour. This is our loss as it is a fine composition here sung by an outstanding choir. The final work, sequenced on the CD between the Passion and the Mass, is "Locus Iste" an unaccompanied motet based on the Gradual of the Mass for the Dedication of a Church. Wells Cathedral Choir is recognised as one of the best and on this recording, expertly produced by Adam Binks, we can hear why. Listeners who enjoy traditional choral music will find much to please them here. While Joubert is a contemporary composer in that he is still alive his roots go deep. If you are looking for a comparison to guide you, I would describe him as sounding like Benjamin Britten writing in the style of Edward Elgar which, for the record, is intended to be a compliment.

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Sample Track Listing:
1. I. Kyrie [Listen]
2. II. Gloria [Listen]
3. III. Sanctus [Listen]
4. IV. Benedictus [Listen]
5. V. Agnus Dei [Listen]
6. Locus Iste, Op. 175 [Listen]
7. I. At The House Of Simon The Leper [Listen]
8. II. The Upper Room [Listen]
9. III. Gethsemane [Listen]
10. IV. The Praetorium [Listen]
11. V. Golgotha [Listen]

This track data is supplied by the Cross Rhythms CD/DVD review library. Please note that CD tracks may vary according to release region or product version.

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