Joubert: Missa Wellensis, Op 174; Locus iste, Op 175; St Mark Passion, Op 180

Reviewed on Wed 08 Nov, 2017

St Mark Passion (2015) is a work of considerable but controlled power, a keening solo cello and intense, interrogatory organ offering surprisingly effective commentary.

In his 90th year, John Joubert’s profile continues to rise after the success of Jane Eyre (reviewed 28 April 2017) with this trio of direct, sincere and moving liturgical works that balance directness of expression with quiet beauty and discrete luxuriance. All three were commissioned by Wells Cathedral, whose Choir acquits itself under Matthew Owens’s judicious direction with aplomb. 2013’s a cappella Missa Wellensis wears its complexity lightly, the Kyrie tautly realised, the Gloria suitably effusive, its Benedictus still and ethereal, the concluding Agnus Dei gently reaching to the sublime. St Mark Passion (2015) is a work of considerable but controlled power, a keening solo cello and intense, interrogatory organ offering surprisingly effective commentary. Peter Auty is a resonant narrator, Benjamin Bevan a vivid Jesus, Joubert’s use of hymns to close each of the five movements a clever conceit. The miniature Locus iste (2015) is an atmospheric motet of sepulchral hues. Good sound, and excellent notes by Christopher Morley.
–Michael Quinn