Concert review


St.Paul's Hall, Huddersfield, 7/03/99

This cantata for speaker, tenor and baritone soloists, chorus and chamber orchestra dates from 1969 and has been widely performed. In this powerful performance, the narrator was the Rev Tim Sledge, the tenor Mark Anyan and the baritone Craig Everitt, with the Huddersfield Singers, Amici Ensemble and John S Bailey, organ. The libretto by Stephen Tunnicliffe tells the story of Alban, who was the first British martyr. The formal structure of the piece is very simple with immediate repetition of much of the material and the use of motifs. The style of the forty-minute cantata is diverse but all recognisably the work of John Joubert, sometimes spiky and chromatic, also boasting a beautifully flowing diatonic theme in stepwise motion for Alban himself.

The Huddersfield Singers brought conviction to the very taxing and demanding choral writing, under the sharp and imaginative direction of conductor Philip Honnor. The acoustic of St Paul's was ideal for these chamber forces, pointing up details in the score. The Martyrdom of St Alban (op60) has also been heard in St Albans, London, Birmingham and Sheffield. John Joubert's many fine choral works have yet to appear on CD and I hope that recording companies may be encouraged to fill an aching gap in the market.


Paul Conway

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