Choral Music by Jonathan Dove [TrackList below] – Jonathan Vaughn, organ/ Wells Cathedral Choir/ Matthew Owens, conductor – Hyperion 67768, 70:25 [Distr. by Harmonia mundi] ****:
Jonathan Dove is a name new to me but apparently not in Britain; he has written a slew of operas and seems a creature of the theater, from a young age being fascinated by it and its accoutrements. Much of this drama translates into his many works for the Anglican Church as well, and to very good effect. I can honestly say that there is not a bad apple in this religious bag.
Dove’s music, while involved in sundry complexities like mixed meter and chordal clusters, etc, using appropriate modern techniques, is always under girded by a firmly established tonality that makes itself known in the simplest of ways. Time and time again throughout this album I found myself humming along with the bass line, a sure indicator of the tonal framework that sits above it, to patterns that were tried and true and suggestive of an almost elementary progression. Yet Dove’s music is anything but elementary, with all sorts of things happening that remain grounded in a sense of well-being, fortified by a melodic gift second to none. But I think his secret is the fact that he is so ensconced in very basic underlying harmonic progressions.
He is also a master at word setting—just listen to Run, shepherds, run! with its brilliant repetitions on the main title that give one the almost palpable feeling of heading over the hills in double time trying to keep up with the sheep. Or the descriptive power of Dorothy Sayer’s poem The Three Kings, tempos and mood changing according to the stanza which speaks of a young, middling, and aging king—wonderful stuff, as is every track on this recording, done in spacious sound at the Cathedral of St. Andrew in Wells in Somerset. Guaranteed to give great pleasure to a broad audience.
Bless the Lord, O my soul; Missa Brevis; I am the day; Welcome, 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
— Steven Ritter