2012 marks the 15th anniversary of the first release from the leading independent classical label Signum Records. Beginning life as an early music specialist (with a landmark release of the Complete Works of Thomas Tallis with Chapelle du Roi), Signum has grown since 1997 to a catalogue of over 300 releases across a wide range of genres, featuring a number of world-class artists including:
Signum Anniversary Collection
Release date:24th Sep 2012
- A Cappella Collection – SIGCD299 – –
- Early Music Collection – SIGCD301 – –
- Organ Collection – SIGCD302 – –
- Art Song Collection – SIGCD303 – –
- Choral Collection – SIGCD304 – –
- Piano Collection – SIGCD305 – –
Since launching in 1997, Signum Classics has established itself as one of the UK’s leading and most reliable independent labels, its output ranging freely across genres and through the ages to create a catalogue of more than 300 recordings that can surely claim to be one of the most open-minded and catholic currently available. Issued to celebrate the label’s first 15 years is a six-volume set (each separately themed disc also available individually) that cherry-picks from the back catalogue to provide a value-for-money introduction both to Signum and to the genre under consideration itself.
Typical of the delightful bran-tub eclecticism to be found on all of these compendium discs is the A Cappella Collection. Boasting contributions from venerable vocal ensembles such as the BBC, King’s and Swingle Singers alongside relative newcomers Les Sirenes and Voces8 among others, the repertoire stretches from Monteverdi to Michael Jackson and is dispatched with consummate ease by all involved.
The Organ Collection offers more robust fare. Dominated by music from the 19th and 20th centuries, the roll-call of soloists – Jeremy Filsell, Naji Hakim and Simon Preston among them – is as self-recommending as the opportunity to hear an array of notable organs including those in the cathedrals of Westminster, Gloucester, Freiburg and Tulle, in La Madeleine and Saint-Sulpice in Paris, in the colleges of Eton and Glenalmond, and even in Buckingham Palace. Among the plentiful gems here, David Goode’s Messiaen in Eton, Samuel Wesley’s Choral Song courtesy ofJames Vivian in London’s Temple Church, and Robert Quinney’s haunting performance of ‘Nimrod’ in Westminster Abbey especially stand out.
Formidable programming and impressive contributions – notably the Huddersfield Choral Society, BBC and Vasari Singers, Ex Cathedra, Gabrieli Consort among a host of others – mark out the Choral Collection as something rather special indeed. With repertoire choices embracing Tallis and Allegri (spellbinding accounts of Spem in alium and Miserere from Chapelle du Roi and Tenebrae respectively), Bernstein’s striking Chichester Psalms, Tippett’s evocative setting of Over the Sea to Skye, Bob Chilcott’s sirenic The Lily and the Rose, pieces by Bach, Handel and contemporary voices such as Geoffrey Burgon, Patrick Hawes, Alec Roth and Eric Whitacre (the beguiling Lux Aurumque), this is a disc that can surely claim to have something for every taste and temperament.
Choir and Organ, Michael Quinn
Signum began as an independent early music specialist label, and for their 15th anniversary the Early Music Collection [Signum: SIGCD301] is one of six compilations released at c. £6 each.
Each disc is carefully selected (what a pleasant job that must have been) and prompts questions about listening to recorded music…
Certainly, they will all be invaluable for radio programme presenters. It would also be good to have comments from MusicalPointers visitors whose listening routines must be very various ?
I have given detailed attention to the three depicted below, which particularly appealed to me, and have had so much pleasure from the Early Music Collection that I have put it onto my iPod to enjoy listening whilst walking in the Park and sometimes for travelling.
The A Cappella set (Swingles, Kings Singers, BBC Singers and many other groups you might not think of) [Signum: SIGCD299] is light fare and makes for happy listening; mostly clever arrangements of music, some familiar and many tracks in English. (There are occasional tracks which are not well matched with their neighbours for volume.)
The Organ Collection [Signum: SIGCD302], featuring mainly big cathedral organs and others such as those at the Royal Albert Hall and Buckingham Palace, will bring delight to collectors of organ CDs.
That repertoire responds well to compiling tracks. It will be fine for showing off your latest equipment. The complete works are, of course, indicated in the listings and on postage-stamp images on each booklet cover.
These discs, on their own, are not for listeners who aren’t interested in pursuing the learned musicological information provided with many of the original CDs; they cater for more for casual listening.
Will this set (not boxed) lead to renewed sales of the carefully presented parent discs? Maybe there would be a better chance of that with a price incentive link to those of, say, Signum’s first five years or decade; that’s for the firm’s accountants to work out, I guess. (Times are hard, so Musical Pointers does unapologetically allow a little bias towards budget discs and re-releases in some of its appraisals.)
Peter Grahame Woolf, Musical Pointers