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Joubert: Jane Eyre / Fredrick, Woods, English Symphony

Release Date: 03/31/2017 
Label:  Somm   Catalog #: 263  
Composer:  John Joubert
Performer:  Gwion ThomasApril FredrickDavid StoutMark Milhofer
Conductor:  Kenneth Woods
Orchestra/Ensemble:  English Symphony Orchestra
Number of Discs: 2 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

This new release from SOMM Recordings pays an affectionate tribute to John Joubert who turns 90 years old in March, 2017. It also adds a veritable gem to the operatic catalogue: the world premiere of his 2-Act Opera, Jane Eyre, recorded live during a concert performance at the Ruddock Performing Arts Centre. The following is an excerpt from a review by Christopher Morley, Chief Music Critic of the Birmingham Post, which appeared two days later. "The tears in our eyes at the end of this professional premiere of John Joubert's opera Jane Eyre were quickened not only by the ravishing music of Jane and Rochester's reconciliation, but also by the sheer emotional importance of the occasion. Jane Eyre has been a labour of love for the veteran Read more composer, and therefore had to retreat backstage while lucrative commissions continued to pour in. And then, after its eventful completion, various disappointments stood in its way. But on Tuesday at last, Joubert's vision was fulfilled, and surrounded by his family, the now frail composer acknowledged tremendous applause after what was a tremendous performance of what is indeed a tremendous score, and with an adoit libretto by Kenneth Birkin. Certainly we can hear in the music that Joubert loves Wagner, Strauss, Janacek, Britten and Shostakovich, and in his generosity of spirit he does not deny that, but instead has the integrity to mould all these influences into a communicative language which is entirely his own. The orchestra carries the main weight of the narrative, rising to climactic moments of structure, and introducing and later recalling motifs which colour the tale's events. And the melodies are glorious, all rendered in this concert performance with immense security and colour by the English Symphony Orchestra under Kenneth Woods. David Stout's Rochester was tortured and charismatic, his baritone shifting from honeyed tenor registers to cutting lower notes. And as Jane Eyre herself, April Fredrick did more than display a perfectly-formed voice, fearless in melisma, bright at the top and reflective in descent, all the while acting with a genuine response to her character's development; she really did embody Charlotte Bronte's heroine." Read less

Works on This Recording

Jane Eyre by John Joubert
Performer:  Gwion Thomas (Baritone), April Fredrick (Soprano), David Stout (Baritone),
Mark Milhofer (Tenor)
Conductor:  Kenneth Woods
Orchestra/Ensemble:  English Symphony Orchestra
Period: Contemporary 
Written: 1997; England 

Customer Reviews

Average Customer Review:  1 Customer Review )
 A new classic of the operatic stage March 19, 2017 By Dean Frey See All My Reviews "By coincidence, I'm writing this review on the 90th birthday of the British composer John Joubert. As it turns out, it's the easiest thing possible to give this a 5-star review, but this gift to Joubert is sincere. Happy birthday! Joubert isn't afraid to take on classics of English literature; his other major operas are based on works by Joseph Conrad and George Eliot. He and his librettist Kenneth Birkin have cut the classic novel to its dramatic bone to come up with this two act adaptation of Jane Eyre. And Joubert has provided vital music to move the plot along; it's theatrical in the best sense. It takes its cue, perhaps, from the splendid 1943 film of the novel made by Robert Stevenson, with a script by Aldous Huxley and John Houseman, and with fine performances by Orson Welles as Rochester and Joan Fontaine as Jane. But the real value in Joubert's Jane Eyre comes from the gorgeous music, often reminiscent of Richard Strauss or Pfitzner. "Great music is in a sense serene;" says Rebecca West, "it is certain of the values it asserts." With all the heightened emotions and passion on display while the melodrama works outs its plot points, there is always a still, calm centre in Bronte's remarkable heroine. Rochester himself comments on it: How still she is! So still and silent . . . so slight, so solitary, so calm . . . All of this works beautifully on a theatrical level, but it fits as well into Joubert's musical scheme, which is as symphonic as it is operatic. Opera at this high level of sophistication communicates the full emotional range of the novel. It's a remarkable accomplishment. Kenneth Woods has the music well in hand here, with fine, committed work from the players of the English Symphony Orchestra. The singers are very strong, with outstanding performances, both dramatic and musical, from April Fredick as Jane and David Stout as Rochester. The recording is from a live concert performance, which is all to the good. There's a sense of occasion, with a major work rescued from many decades of obscurity, and perhaps the beginning of a long life on operatic stages around the world." Report Abuse
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