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A World of Wonder

Song cycles
by John Joubert -
recommended by

'... a passionate wildness to the piano writing ...'

John Joubert: Four Song Cycles. © 2007 Toccata Classics

Whenever the subject of South African-born, Birmingham-based composer John Joubert is mooted, the same words seem to crop up: 'underrated', 'under-appreciated', 'under-played'. (This last at least being the fate, of course, of most such non-cutting-edge, but truly musical, modern composers.) Having just turned eighty, however, a modest retrospective has been going on, of which this new CD is only a small part.

It begins with The Hour Hand (his Op 101) [listen -- track 5, 0:54-1:49]. My heart frankly sank when I saw that this esprit was composed for soprano and solo recorder (the latter being my least favorite instrument, usually out of tune, wheezy, dull, monochromatic etc). However, I here and now absolve John Turner, recorder player extraordinaire, from each of these base accusations without reservation. As for the work: it is jokey, jazzy, even witty: a unique combination of the rich-textured soprano with the woody simplicity of the recorder. John Turner breathes flutter-tongue like any reputable alto flute and Lesley-Jane Rogers' soprano rises ecstatic within the context of these two colors alone, together creating a tiny Vermeer: a world of wonder in a small, jewelled space.

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Copyright © 14 December 2007 Alice McVeigh, Kent UK


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