M Martin

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3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

COMPOSERS: M Martin
LABELS: Opus Arte
WORKS: Jubilate Deo; In the year that King Uzziah died (I saw the Lord); Christe Redemptor omnium; Chester Missa Brevis; Te Lucis Ante Terminum; St John’s College Service; Justorum animae; Dormi, Jesu!; A Hymn of St Ambrose; A short mass of St Dominic; A song of the New Jerusalem; Laudate Dominum
PERFORMER: Choir of Magdalen College, Oxford/ Daniel Hyde; Stephen Farr (organ)
CATALOGUE NO: OA CD 9030 D

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Matthew Martin’s is often a spikily dynamic style of composition. The opening Jubilate Deo is full of thrust and enthusiasm, if slightly breathless in quality. A similar keenness to engage the listener viscerally informs the opening section of the anthem In the year that King Uzziah died, though here there are quieter sections with solo writing. There’s a certain sense of straining for effect in the singing, as the choir strives to match the impact of the punched-out organ clusters in the bullish accompaniment.

In the Kyrie of the Chester Missa brevis Martin’s use of imitative, over-layering devices to build an arc structure is skilfully handled, but bought at the partial expense of melodic interest and deeper emotional resonance. Even the more reflective Agnus Dei seems decorative and formulaic in places, though its counterpart in A short mass of St Dominic is more searching and contemplative.

The Nunc dimittis of the St John’s College Service brings the best of both composer and performers, the vocal writing swirling in kaleidoscopic patterns above a vaulting organ obbligato. A word of appreciation too for the gentleness and fragility caught in treble Oliver Doggett’s solo contribution to Dormi, Jesu!, a haunting little setting.

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Terry Blain