Joy to the World

£12.00

After the triumphant success of the King’s Singers last Christmas Album released in 2003 entitled ‘Christmas’, this new disc sets an eclectic assortment of modern Christmas classics with special arrangements of some much loved favourites.

Praise for the King’s Singers CD ‘Christmas’ (SIGCD502) include:
"The King’s Singers’ style is beautifully detailed, and even the most familiar carols sound fresh"
Classic FM Magazine

"Precise intonation, instinctive articulation, a downy, luxuriant tone, all captured in an excitingly lifelike recording"

International Record Review

SKU: SIGCD268

What people are saying

"Stand-out moments include Tchaikovsky’s thoughtful The Crown of Roses, Lawson’s gentle Lullay my Liking and Pierpont’s hyperactively jolly jingle bells, which they whizz through as though the words ‘technically challenging’ had vanished from the dictionary."

BBC Music Magazine
   
"an eminently enjoyable release that will please fans of The King’s Singers and lovers of Christmas music alike."
Musicweb International
     
"A delightful holiday release."
All Music Guide

The King’s Singers

Release date:3rd Oct 2011
Order code:SIGCD268
Barcode: 635212026823

November 2011

The King’s Singers bring their rich butterscotch sound to Christmas with this selection of festive works recorded live at Cadogan Hall. The programme brims with originality and inventiveness across the board, and a sense of humour that stops the seasonal standards from being too kitsch.

 

Classical Music Magazine, James Waygood

You can pull a lot of sneaky tricks in recording studios nowadays to correct pitch and phrasing, bur this live recording suggests The King’s Singers don’t need them: their standards of tuning and ensemble are as formidably high as ever, and there’s an extra expressivity and sense of relaxation which make me actually prefer hearing them in the live environment. The repertoire here is mainly traditional, arranged for six voices. Stand-out moments include Tchaikovsky’s thoughtful The Crown of Roses, Lawson’s gentle Lullay my Liking and Pierpont’s hyperactively jolly Jingle Bells, which they whizz through as though the words ‘technically challenging’ had vanished from the dictionary.

BBC Music Magazine

 

This disc is the companion release of The King’s Singers’ Christmas DVD that was reviewed for this site by Simon Thompson. It is also the group’s second Christmas CD on Signum Classics. The first was King’s Singers Christmas (SIGCD502), a studio album of remarkable depth and beauty that remains among the finest collections of carols for advent I have ever heard. If you don’t already own that disc you should order it without delay and in priority to this new one.    

Which is not to say that this new disc is unworthy. Far from it. Where the studio album from 2003 is inward, serious and contemplative, this new album – recorded live in concert around this time last year – is necessarily more gregarious. Its programme is also more varied in mood and tone. Interestingly, where the new disc sings the sacred there is considerable overlap with the earlier disc – 6 tracks in all. It is interesting to compare the alternative readings of the same songs, especially given that only counter-tenor David Hurley, tenor Paul Phoenix and baritone Philip Lawson remain of the 2003 line up. Generally the studio recordings are slightly to be preferred, though the new version of The Crown of Roses is indisputably more dramatic, thanks in part to the contribution of new counter-tenor Timothy Wayne-Wright. Jonathan Howard, the new bass, is lighter in tone that his predecessor Stephen Connolly – an observation rather than a criticism. What amazes is just how consistent the sound of this group is. Their balance, clarity and sensitivity to text remain unsurpassed.    
The gentle beauty of the arrangements and settings by Rutter and baritone Philip Lawson are among the highlights of this collection. Lawson’s setting of the medieval English text, Lullay my Liking, is particularly gorgeous. The Saint-Saëns part-song was an unexpected treat. It was also nice to hear Bob Chilcott’s ostinato-driven arrangement of Greensleeves turning up with different lyrics as What Child is This? The opening and closing tracks, too, are old friends – upbeat winners that a very different King’s Singers line-up recorded in 1973 on their EMI Christmas album, Deck the Hall (now only available as an ArkivCD). In fact, the two closing tracks in particular bring the programme to a close with brilliant and witty arrangements – “endearingly madcap” is Simon Thompson’s apt phrase – brilliantly and wittily sung.    
I do have reservations about one track though, and it happens to be the longest. I have no doubt that, live in concert, The King’s Singers’ performance of The Twelve Days of Christmas, spiced with the ‘thank you’ letters penned by John Norwich, would have been hilarious. The giggling audience, hardly audible for the first half of the album, prove that Christmas pudding. My issue is not with the humour of the piece – it is pretty funny – but with its placement on a Christmas CD that is likely to get repeated play over the next month. It is a track that most listeners will, after a couple of listenings, want to skip.    
In his review of The King’s Singers’ Christmas DVD, Simon indicated that the visual element was not really necessary to that studio-style recording, and in fact that the images used were not always apposite to the music being sung. Here the reverse is the case. The King’s Singers are not just singers. They are performers, and with an audience before them their concerts are visually as well as musically interesting. Filming this concert for release on DVD would have enhanced the charms and comedy of The Twelve Days with the visual humour that the group must have deployed.    
Minor carping aside, this is an eminently enjoyable release that will please fans of The King’s Singers and lovers of Christmas music alike.

Musicweb International, Tim Perry

 

The King’s Singers, an all-male a cappella sextet, have issued an extraordinarily large range of recordings, most of them quite successful. But they may be at their best in a circumscribed setting like that of the Christmas album, which brings their innovative harmonies into the sharpest relief. In this seasonal collection they offer traditional Christmas carols given new levels of musical tension by the addition of repeated harmonic figures in the accompanying voices, clashing with but not destabliizing the melody. They include a few highly chromatic pieces, such as an arrangement by English-American composer Jeremy Lubbock of a Tchaikovsky hymn called The Crown of Roses. And listeners will have to discover for themselves what they make of The Twelve Days of Christmas. Throughout, the trademark mixture of awesomely precise harmonies and equally awesome sense of enjoyment is fully in evidence, and they are backed here by the superior capabilities of Signum’s engineering team, working in London’s acoustically fine Cadogan Hall. A delightful holiday release.

 

All Music Guide, James Manheim

 

The King’s Singers have regularly changed personnel since their inception four decades ago, but are essentially the same now as then: an accomplished close-harmony group specialising in the intimate approach and in clever reharmonisations of familiar things. In this Christmas programme, recorded live last year at Cadogan Hall, arrangers include Brian Kay (Gaudete) and Bob Chilcott (What Child Is This?), Gordon Langford (Jingle Bells and his time-honoured, uproarious version of Deck the Hall with Boughs of Holly), John Rutter (Stille nacht), Carl Davis (Rise Up, Shepherd, and Follow) and Geoffrey Keating (The 12 Days of Christmas).

The Observer, Stephen Pettit

 

The familiar polish and sweet vocal blend of the King’s Singers are applied to a nicely varied programme. There are new slants on traditional favourites such as The 12 Days of Christmas, God Rest You Merry, Gentlemen and Jingle Bells, together with rarities including a jolly Sérénade d’hiver by Saint-Saëns.

The Daily Telegraph, Geoffrey Norris

 

This disc is the companion release of The King’s Singers’ Christmas DVD that was reviewed for this site by Simon Thompson. It is also the group’s second Christmas CD on Signum Classics. The first was King’s Singers Christmas (SIGCD502), a studio album of remarkable depth and beauty that remains among the finest collections of carols for advent I have ever heard. If you don’t already own that disc you should order it without delay and in priority to this new one.

Which is not to say that this new disc is unworthy. Far from it. Where the studio album from 2003 is inward, serious and contemplative, this new album – recorded live in concert around this time last year – is necessarily more gregarious. Its programme is also more varied in mood and tone. Interestingly, where the new disc sings the sacred there is considerable overlap with the earlier disc – 6 tracks in all. It is interesting to compare the alternative readings of the same songs, especially given that only counter-tenor David Hurley, tenor Paul Phoenix and baritone Philip Lawson remain of the 2003 line up. Generally the studio recordings are slightly to be preferred, though the new version of The Crown of Roses is indisputably more dramatic, thanks in part to the contribution of new counter-tenor Timothy Wayne-Wright. Jonathan Howard, the new bass, is lighter in tone that his predecessor Stephen Connolly – an observation rather than a criticism. What amazes is just how consistent the sound of this group is. Their balance, clarity and sensitivity to text remain unsurpassed. 
The gentle beauty of the arrangements and settings by Rutter and baritone Philip Lawson are among the highlights of this collection. Lawson’s setting of the medieval English text, Lullay my Liking, is particularly gorgeous. The Saint-Saëns part-song was an unexpected treat. It was also nice to hear Bob Chilcott’s ostinato-driven arrangement of Greensleeves turning up with different lyrics as What Child is This? The opening and closing tracks, too, are old friends – upbeat winners that a very different King’s Singers line-up recorded in 1973 on their EMI Christmas album, Deck the Hall (now only available as an ArkivCD). In fact, the two closing tracks in particular bring the programme to a close with brilliant and witty arrangements – “endearingly madcap” is Simon Thompson’s apt phrase – brilliantly and wittily sung. 
I do have reservations about one track though, and it happens to be the longest. I have no doubt that, live in concert, The King’s Singers’ performance of The Twelve Days of Christmas, spiced with the ‘thank you’ letters penned by John Norwich, would have been hilarious. The giggling audience, hardly audible for the first half of the album, prove that Christmas pudding. My issue is not with the humour of the piece – it is pretty funny – but with its placement on a Christmas CD that is likely to get repeated play over the next month. It is a track that most listeners will, after a couple of listenings, want to skip. 
In his review of The King’s Singers’ Christmas DVD, Simon indicated that the visual element was not really necessary to that studio-style recording, and in fact that the images used were not always apposite to the music being sung. Here the reverse is the case. The King’s Singers are not just singers. They are performers, and with an audience before them their concerts are visually as well as musically interesting. Filming this concert for release on DVD would have enhanced the charms and comedy of The Twelve Days with the visual humour that the group must have deployed. 
Minor carping aside, this is an eminently enjoyable release that will please fans of The King’s Singers and lovers of Christmas music alike. 

Musicweb International, Tim Perry

 

Joy to the World is an eclectic collection, with accomplished versions of pieces by Bach, Tchaikovsky and Saint-Saens interspersed with folksier material siuch as “Noël Nouvelet”, featuring an exquisite interplay of quiet clarity between the countertenors and lower registers. There’s an infectious spiritual feel to “Rise Up, Shepherd, and Follow”, whichle the innovative arrangement of “God Rest You Merry Gentlemen” borrows the tempo of Brubeck’s “Take Five”. Best of all is an amusing “Twelve Days of Christmas” incorporating John Julius Norwich’s epistolary responses to the gifts, climaxing in an injunction against the increasingly perverse presents.

The Independent, Andy Gill

  1. Rise up, shepherd, and follow – Traditional arr. Carl Davis –
  2. Gabriel’s message – Edgar Pettiman –
  3. No?l nouvelet – Traditional arr. Philip Lawson –
  4. What child is this? – Traditional / William Chatterton Dix arr. Bob Chilcott –
  5. The crown of roses – Pyotr Il?yich Tchaikovsky arr. Jeremy Lubbock –
  6. O little one sweet – Traditional harmonised J.S. Bach –
  7. Lullay my liking – Philip Lawson –
  8. Stille Nacht – Franz Gruber / Joseph Mohr arr. John Rutter –
  9. The quiet heart – June Collin / James Morgan –
  10. There is a flower – John Rutter –
  11. Joy to the world – Lowell Mason / Isaac Watts arr. Philip Lawson –
  12. S?r?nade d’hiver – Camille Saint-Sa?ns –
  13. The twelve days of Christmas – Traditional, arr. Geoffrey Keating featuring John Julius Norwich?s A correspondence –
  14. Gaudete – Traditional arr. Brian Kay –
  15. God rest you merry gentlemen – Traditional arr. Geoffrey Keating –
  16. The little drummer boy – Katherine K. Davis / Henry Onorati / Harry Simeone / arr. John McCarthy –
  17. Jingle bells – James Lord Pierpont arr. Gordon Langford –
  18. Deck the hall with boughs of holly – Traditional / Thomas Oliphant arr. Gordon Langford –