COMPOSERS: John Joubert
ALBUM TITLE: John Joubert String Quartets 1, 2 & 3
WORKS: String Quartets Nos 1, 2 & 3
PERFORMER: Brodsky Quartet
CATALOGUE NO: SOMM0113
John Joubert, born in Cape Town 85 years ago this March, has written three string quartets, all of great significance in his output. The First, his Op. 1 from 1951, combines lithe melodic lines with taut rhythmic impetus: the sources of this style become clear when the finale quotes from Walton’s First Symphony. The Second, written in 1977 for the Chamber Music Society of Joubert’s adopted home city, Birmingham, is built round an elegy for Shostakovich, and uses his DSCH motto alongside the ‘Muss es sein?’ motif from Beethoven’s Op. 135 Quartet. The Third, from ten years later, also makes brief reference to these two ideas, as part of a characteristically lucid and convincing flow of argument.
The Brodsky Quartet recorded the Second Quartet for a Joubert double album issued by Somm five years ago (with a different first violinist, uncredited in the booklet). Here that outstanding performance is flanked by accounts of the First and Third marked by equal intensity and responsiveness to mood, and similarly well recorded. The booklet includes notes by Joubert himself, and has on its cover a striking youthful self-portrait – appropriately for a disc which constitutes a revealing musical self-portrait of the mature artist.