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This is an outstanding disc. The recording is impeccable, the singing of Wells Cathedral Choir exceptional and these later works of John Joubert show a composer at the height of his creativity. Matthew Owens conjures from his choir beautifully shaped, expressive phrasing requiring masterly breath control that is staggering. These three works come from of the composer’s association with Wells Cathedral, dating from 2013, and were commissioned for the choir by Cathedral Commissions. The expansion of sacred music repertoire in the 21st century is indebted to the inspired thinking coming from Wells. One of the joys of Joubert’s writing is his exploration of keys that enhance the text – his music breathes life into the words. Nowhere is this more prevalent than in his St Mark Passion, which follows the pattern of the great Bach Passions with the choir representing the crowd and the congregation joining in with appropriately selected hymns. A solo cello acts as continuo for the tenor’s narrative, and the organ adds depth to the conflicting emotions expressed. There is not a weak link anywhere in these performances, and this release is a fitting, celebratory tribute to a creative master who is now 90 years of age.

SHIRLEY RATCLIFFE Read the full review on Agora Classica


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