Piano Concerto, Op. 25
Symphony No. 3 on a theme from 'Jane Eyre', Op. 178
This album presents pieces from the opposite ends of the career of British composer John Joubert, who left his teaching job so that he could write music full-time and has produced a large variety of compositions in old age. The "Symphony No. 3" was extracted from an opera, "Jane Eyre," that had its premiere in 2017, on the occasion of Joubert's 90th birthday. It's thus not quite a symphony but certainly a symphonic poem, with five movements illustrative of various scenes from the tale. The "Piano Concerto," by contrast, was written in 1958. This said, there isn't much of a shift in style at all between the two works; the piano concerto was conservative in 1958, and the symphony perhaps a trifle less so in 2017 with the return of neo-Romantic styles. Both are well-made works. The "Symphony No. 3" in masterfully orchestrated; you could sample at any number of places, or you could start at the very beginning with the spooky and rarely used crotales in the opening "Lowood School" movement. The orchestration for the all-instrumental version of the music was substantially fleshed out by the nearly nonagenarian composer. The concerto is a traditionally shaped work but also has many good touches in its orchestration and a well-structured slow movement that reflects a mysterious mood perhaps characteristic of this composer. Pianist Martin Jones and the BBC National Symphony of Wales under William Boughton give smooth, vigorous support in unfamiliar music. As Schoenberg might have said, there's still plenty of music to be written in the grand British manner, and some of it is well done here.