Choral Music by Jonathan Dove

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4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

LABELS: Hyperion
WORKS: Bless the Lord, O my soul; Missa brevis; I am the day; Wellcome, all wonders in one sight!; The Star-Song; The Three Kings; Run, shepherds, run!; Ecce beatam lucem; In beauty may I walk; Seek him that maketh the seven stars; Into thy hands
PERFORMER: Jonathan Vaughn (organ); Wells Cathedral Choir; Wells Cathedral Chapel Choir/Matthew Owens


Paul Spicer’s notes highlight the affinities between Jonathan Dove’s operatic work and these sacred pieces: the opening item, Bless the Lord, O my soul, is highly dramatic in its bold dynamic contrasts and the declamatory ejaculations that propel the music forward. This is very definitely a piece that is headed somewhere, fuelled by the swiftly rippling organ accompaniment, dispatched by the dextrous Jonathan Vaughn with a flick and a flourish.

Sparks fly again in the clamorous Gloria of the Missa brevis, though here there is introspection too, in a searching Agnus Dei. Matthew Owens has clearly prepared the choir with scrupulous sensitivity, and conducts with an incisive freshness, whether in the technically tricky Seek him that maketh the seven stars, or concluding Into thy hands.


A modicum of wobbly vibrato in the basses occasionally destabilises the choir’s textural equilibrium, but there’s so much freshness, attack and palpable involvement to compensate, not least from the consistently excellent boy and girl choristers. Dove’s music is splendidly effective and brightly expressive. Terry Blain