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This recording is a very interesting look at Joubert’s work for choirs across the decades, since he first came to the notice of Novello in the 1950s. Joubert’s name has often been linked to that of Britten, but I agree with the writers who cite the operatic drama of his writing as its most prevalent characteristic. Its intensity presents a challenging test to singers, and Paul Spicer guides his group to the heart of the composer, the frequently operatic approach of the sopranos coming into its own. Joubert is not only about intensity: there are touching, reflective passages as well. He has an unerring instinct for choosing text, and expressing it to striking effect. A fine example of this is his anti-war work South of the Line, set to the profound and ironic words of Thomas Hardy, in which the choir has to battle against timpani, large percussion and two pianos, often at their most percussive. In two contrasting movements for soprano and baritone, both with piano, the two soloists from the ranks of the choir are excellent. I first came across Joubert’s writing in the late 50s and after all these years I found I could still sing the top line of O Lorde, the Maker of Al Thing and There is no Rose! That’s memorable writing.

SHIRLEY RATCLIFFE Read the full review on Agora Classica

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