Aureole etc.




Nimbus on-line




If it’s the Czech works you’re after, do not hesitate

  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett


Some items
to consider

 


Enjoy the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra wherever you are. App available for iOS and Android


Tudor 7188


Vaughan Williams Symphony 3 etc.


Lyrita New Recording


Lyrita Premiere Recordings

Lyrita 4CDs £16 incl.postage

Lyrita 4CDs £16 incl.postage


Decca Phase 4 - 40CDs


Judith Bailey, George Lloyd


BAX Orchestral pieces


CASKEN Violin Concerto

Schumann Symphonies Rattle


Complete Brahms
Bargain price

 

 

 

 


REVIEW


Gerard Hoffnung CDs

Advertising on
Musicweb


Donate and get a free CD

New Releases

Naxos Classical

Hyperion

Musicweb sells the following labels
Acte Préalable
Alto
Arcodiva
Atoll
CDAccord
Cameo Classics
Centaur
Hallé
Hortus
Lyrita
Nimbus
Northern Flowers
Redcliffe
Sheva
Talent
Toccata Classics


Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing
sample
 

 

Buy through MusicWeb for £13.49 postage paid World-wide.


Musicweb Purchase button

 


John JOUBERT (b. 1927)
Temps Perdu - Variations for String Orchestra Op.99 (1984) [19:18]
Sinfonietta (1962) [17:26]
The Instant Moment Op.110 (1987)1 [25:54]
Henry Herford (baritone)1; English String Orchestra/William Boughton
rec. no details given but other sources indicate Adrian Boult Hall, Birmingham, 21 March 1987.
BRITISH MUSIC SOCIETY BMS 419CDH [63:04]
Experience Classicsonline



This is the second BMS disc devoted to the music of John Joubert that I have had the pleasure of reviewing in recent weeks. As with all composers of importance, as their musical vocabulary starts to bore into your consciousness you become aware what a powerful and individual voice they have. We are indebted again to the British Music Society for their promotion of all British music but of this composer in particular.

The CD appears to have been recorded twelve or so years ago (the one black mark for the release is the total absence of any information regarding the recording) but I am not clear if this is a re-release or a licensed disc. That is of little matter ultimately - it is the music that counts. Here we have three works for string orchestra - a pair of relatively recent pieces performed by the commissioning artists framing an earlier Sinfonietta written for a classical orchestra. John Joubert provides the succinct but illuminating liner-notes - a model of maximum information with minimum verbosity. The disc opens with Temps Perdu: Variations for String Orchestra Op.99. The work takes its title and genesis from Proust’s A la Recherche du Temps Perdu. Joubert’s idea was to use his own juvenilia as a “memory” which he could then revisit and “remember” in the context of the here and now. To this end he took themes from two short string works he wrote during his teens and has added material from Saint-Saens’ Violin Sonata in D minor (which is referred to in the novel) as the memory; the variations are the recollections of it. If this reads as clumsy and contrived that is the failing of my explanation entirely - the music is fluent and approachable. This is string writing closer to Tippett than Vaughan Williams, lyrical yet angular if that doesn’t sound like a contradiction. The general level of dissonance is quite high but Joubert is more than willing to embrace moments of meltingly beautiful consonance. Variation 1 is especially appealing - titled Espièglerie which fortunately my dictionary was able to tell me is “the quality or state of being roguish or frolicsome” - a perfect description of this movement. Throughout the whole disc the English String Orchestra play with commendable attack and commitment but unfortunately the recording lets things down with the sound close and scrawny. It’s a bit like sitting too close to the front desk of strings at a concert - you do hear the other parts, but filtered through a dominant first desk. Clearly the orchestra had an ongoing relationship with Joubert - reinforced by the presence of two of his children in it for this recording - but to be brutally honest it sounds as though one more session would have helped tidy some loose ends significantly.

The central piece in the programme is the Sinfonietta from 1962. It’s scored for strings with added pairs of oboes, bassoons and horns. This is superbly proportioned with a pair of five and a half minute Allegros framing a Molto Moderato. As the only purely abstract work here it allows Joubert to concentrate on form and musical argument. I had never heard this piece before but I hope that in the nigh-on fifty years since it was written it has been regularly performed - it seems like an absolute gift for the many chamber orchestras both amateur and professional looking for a concert-opener. Again the recording balance means that the woodwind are placed well behind the strings and the astringent quality given to the sound detracts from the overall impact. I am a great admirer of the work of Malcolm Arnold and this work reminded me of his own three Sinfoniettas - only better!

The most substantial work on the disc is also the most recent; the song-cycle for baritone and strings The Instant Moment. In English music the combination of solo voice and strings in a song-cycle is relatively rare - the two that spring to mind are Finzi’s Dies Natalis and Britten’s Les Illuminations. Both are towering masterpieces and this work deserves to be mentioned in such exalted company. I remember many years ago as a student performing the Vaughan Williams Five Mystical Songs (as it happens in the version for strings and piano) with Henry Herford. What sticks in my memory was his ability to connect with and project the text. So it is here - the texts by D.H. Lawrence are knotty and far from easy to “explain” to an audience. In his note Joubert explains his choices of texts as illuminating five highly differentiated reactions to the experience of love. Joubert’s particular brilliance is to write music that is illustrative of the “outer” experience - for example in the first song Bei Hennef - the twilight rippling of a river as well as the “inner” emotion as the nature poem transforms into the “troubles, anxieties and pains” of the blossoming love. This is demanding music - both to perform and to listen to but the dramatic pacing of it is so sure that you find yourself drawn into the world of composer and poet. The second setting Loggerheads is really a miniature operatic scena depicting an argument seen from one side - not a note or beat is wasted, it has something of the flavour of Janáček in its terse bitter bleakness. A particular favourite is the penultimate song December Night - Joubert acknowledges the debt to Tristan in the strings’ opening phrases and although the strings are muted throughout there is an underlying tension that is simply brilliant. Herford is particularly good at implying the passionate seduction that is going on beneath his nonchalant words. The cycle closes with Moonrise which Joubert describes as “a visionary poem which sees true love as everlasting”. This is the longest movement in the cycle and the analogy is made between the rising of the moon and the blossoming of love. The strings slowly haul themselves up from murky depths and gradually gain tempo and height - a pair of solo violins intertwining like lovers - a moment strangely reminiscent of Tippett’s Fantasia Concertante on a theme of Corelli - before sinking back into richly harmonised chords for the words “beauty is a thing beyond the grave”. This presages a second more processional ascent to a tremolando climax - oh I wish I couldn’t hear individual players quite so clearly! - until the movement ends with visionary suspended chords held over a melodic reminiscence. A final widely-spaced consonant chord giving gentle benediction. This is a major work and one which deserves to be far more widely known. Even relatively brief acquaintance, such as I have had, yields great riches. Henry Herford is quite magnificent and very well supported by the passionate playing of William Boughton and the English String Orchestra.

Apart from the technical issues this disc is an absolute winner but do not be put off - the musical qualities far outweigh any other caveats. More Joubert please.

Nick Barnard 

see also review by Neil Horner

 
 


EXPLORE MUSICWEB INTERNATIONAL

Making a Donation to MusicWeb

Writing CD reviews for MWI

About MWI
Who we are, where we have come from and how we do it.

Site Map

How to find a review

How to find articles on MusicWeb
Listed in date order

Review Indexes
   By Label
      Select a label and all reviews are listed in Catalogue order
   By Masterwork
            Links from composer names (eg Sibelius) are to resource pages with links to the review indexes for the individual works as well as other resources.

Themed Review pages

Jazz reviews

 

Discographies
   Composer
      Composer surveys
   National
      Unique to MusicWeb -
a comprehensive listing of all LP and CD recordings of given works
.
Prepared by Michael Herman

The Collector’s Guide to Gramophone Company Record Labels 1898 - 1925
Howard Friedman

Book Reviews

Complete Books
We have a number of out of print complete books on-line

Interviews
With Composers, Conductors, Singers, Instumentalists and others
Includes those on the Seen and Heard site

Nostalgia

Nostalgia CD reviews

Records Of The Year
Each reviewer is given the opportunity to select the best of the releases

Monthly Best Buys
Recordings of the Month and Bargains of the Month

Comment
Arthur Butterworth Writes

An occasional column

Phil Scowcroft's Garlands
British Light Music articles

Classical blogs
A listing of Classical Music Blogs external to MusicWeb International

Reviewers Logs
What they have been listening to for pleasure

Announcements

 

Community
Bulletin Board

Give your opinions or seek answers

Reviewers
Pat and present

Helpers invited!

Resources
How Did I Miss That?

Currently suspended but there are a lot there with sound clips


Composer Resources

British Composers

British Light Music Composers

Other composers

Film Music (Archive)
Film Music on the Web (Closed in December 2006)

Programme Notes
For concert organizers

External sites
British Music Society
The BBC Proms
Orchestra Sites
Recording Companies & Retailers
Online Music
Agents & Marketing
Publishers
Other links
Newsgroups
Web News sites etc

PotPourri
A pot-pourri of articles

MW Listening Room
MW Office

Advice to Windows Vista users  
Questionnaire    
Site History  
What they say about us
What we say about us!
Where to get help on the Internet
CD orders By Special Request
Graphics archive
Currency Converter
Dictionary
Magazines
Newsfeed  
Web Ring
Translation Service

Rules for potential reviewers :-)
Do Not Go Here!
April Fools




Return to Review Index

Untitled Document


Reviews from previous months
Join the mailing list and receive a hyperlinked weekly update on the discs reviewed. details
We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin Board
Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to which you refer.