MARTIN Jubilate Deo
The music of Matthew Martin (b1976) is haunted by the spirits of British composers who died while he was in his teens – Berkeley, Howells, Leighton, Mathias – but more especially by Britten, who died the year he was born. Indeed, the first part of the extended anthem composed for the 2012 St David’s Festival, In the year that King Uzziah died, bears more than a passing resemblance to Rejoice in the Lamb, although elsewhere Martin skilfully mixes his influences to create music which has both a comforting familiarity and a distinctive voice.
It helps Martin’s cause enormously that this disc of his church music mostly composed within the last five years has been made by the choir of the same Oxford college at which he is currently a tutor, and is directed by one of his colleagues. But while such cosy inter-relationships might in other spheres seem a convenient way of exchanging favours, here it produces a vivid artistic chemistry which results in performances of potent conviction and impressive authority. The Magdalen choir certainly make an exceptional sound, and Daniel Hyde’s direction is notable for his attention to inner detail and clear sense of architecture, whether in the electrifying canticles written in 2011 for St John’s College, Cambridge, the simple, direct setting of Christe redemptor omnium or the exuberant Jubilate Deo.
Superb recorded sound from Opus Arte adds lustre to a recording of an outstanding choir singing music which, in continuing an age-old tradition, also adds something new and distinctive to it.