We’ve compiled a list of some of our favourite releases of the year. Featuring works old and new by Dowland, Beethoven, MacMillan and Wright, we’re sure there’ll be something everyone can enjoy.

Let us know your favourite 2018 Signum release by tweeting us at @signumrecords.

  • Paul McCreesh leads the Gabrieli Consort in a collection of works that explores the diverse and extensive body of works dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary over the centuries. Music by Tallis, MacMillan, Howells and Leighton frames the world premiere of a new work by the young British composer, Matthew Martin: a setting of the Magnificat, interpolated with verses from the atmospheric medieval poem ‘There is no rose’.

    Gabrieli are world-renowned interpreters of great vocal and instrumental repertoire from the Renaissance to the present day. Formed as an early music ensemble by Paul McCreesh in 1982, Gabrieli has both outgrown and remained true to its original identity through its live performances and award-winning recordings for their Winged Lion label.

    Limelight's Vocal Recording of 2018 ★ Choir and Organ Another winner from the Gabrieli’s… this CD is thoroughly to be recommended - Cathedral Music Magazine The Gabrieli Consort, under McCreesh, give an outstanding performance that is caught in superb sound by the Signum engineers - iClassical Excellent recorded sound sets the seal on another outstanding issue from this outstanding team - BBC Music Magazine another triumph, helped by the wonderful acoustic of Romsey Abbey, captured with typical skill by the expert engineers of Signum - MusicWeb International
  • Tenebrae join the Aurora Orchestra with mezzo soprano Dame Sarah Connolly and narrator Simon Callow for ‘A Walk with Ivor Gurney’, an album of choral music celebrating the works of Ivor Gurney whose promising career as a composer was interrupted by World War I. Alongside four pieces of Gurney’s own music are works by his contemporaries, Ralph Vaughan Williams and Herbert Howells. The recording features a new piece by Judith Bingham commissioned by Tenebrae in 2013 for the choir with Dame Sarah Connolly.

    ★★★★★ The Mail Online

    Performance ★★★★ Recording ★★★★ Beautifully sung by Nigel Short's Tenebrae - BBC Music Magazine Orchestra and wordless choir combining to ravishing effect - The Arts Desk

    Nigel Short’s peerless Tenebrae singers, backed by the Aurora Orchestra, offer nothing but sorrowful beauty and multiple reasons to give thanks - The Times

    A nourishing, thoughtfully compiled release  - Gramophone The remarkably imaginative concept of this release reveals Signum as a most innovative company - Cathedral Music The orchestra marvellously supportive and Tenebrae exemplary - Classical Source [Dame Sarah Connolly] brings a great warmth here, vocally but also in terms of her response to the poetryBBC Radio 3 Record Review Throughout this disc the singing of Tenebrae confirms their stature as one of the UK’s premier chamber choirs […] Tenebrae have done the memory of Ivor Gurney proud - MusicWeb International
  • A stunning 12-CD box set, Beethoven Unbound, will be released to mark the completion of Llŷr Williams’ monumental Beethoven cycle at Wigmore Hall and the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama (RWCMD) – recorded live at Wigmore Hall over three years and nine recitals. As well as the complete piano sonatas, the box set also features other works including the 32 Variations in C minor, Eroica Variations, Opus 126 Bagatelles and the Diabelli Variations, a total of almost 14 hours of music. This is Williams’ fourth album on Signum Classics. Beethoven Unbound is presented in a beautiful hinged box with extensive notes by Misha Donat, and personal notes by Williams and the album’s award-winning producer Judith Sherman, with whom Williams worked previously on his Wagner Without Words release. Williams comments on the box set and the partnership with Sherman: “Rather than adopt the chronological approach, I have arranged the works roughly in the order that I played them in the concerts, and each CD has been devised as a mini-recital programme. This has sometimes allowed for creativity in putting the pieces together. Working with Judy on this project has been a joy and a privilege. It was sad to reach the end – but at least we still have a Schubert cycle to look forward to!” Williams has developed a reputation as one of the finest exponents of Beethoven, since giving his first Beethoven cycle in Perth in 2010, and winning a South Bank Sky Arts Award in 2012 for an epic two-week marathon in Edinburgh. The Guardian said of one of his RWCMD cycle recitals in 2016: “Williams’ already considerable stature as a Beethoven interpreter seems to grow with every performance” (Rian Evans, 25 March 2016) and The Independent commented on a Wigmore recital: “Williams treats it [the keyboard] as an extension of his body, and with the three Opus 10 sonatas plus the Diabelli Variations he took us onto an altogether higher plane” (Michael Church, 12 October 2016). 2017 saw the conclusion not only of the solo series at Wigmore Hall and the RWCMD, but also of a complete concerto cycle with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra. Williams plays with profound intelligence and a wittily knowing ear for the quirky surprises Beethoven lays in the path of the pianistThe Observer [Williams' playing contains] wisdom and humour, comedy and tragedy, the lyrical and the fierce - BARN Magazine A musical feast of almost 14 hours of music that comes highly recommended - Northern Echo The best of these performances are out of the top drawer and all are worthy of careful listening. At its bargain price this set is highly recommended to all lovers of Beethoven’s piano music - iClassical Wonderful recordings - BBC Radio 3 In Tune
  • Following her debut release of Baroque works by Vivaldi and Handel earlier this year, Grace Davidson returns to disc on Signum with an intimate disc of Dowland’s first book of lute songs, accompanied by David Miller. Blending melancholy with wit in his writing for both lute and voice, John Dowland’s songs have continued to enchant audiences and singers for nearly 400 years. The ‘First Booke’ includes some of Dowland’s less well-known works, and was recorded in the sensitive acoustic of Ascot Priory in Berkshire, UK.

    Performance ★★★★ Recording ★★★★★ Dowland's [works] find elegant interpreters here in Grace Davidson and David Miller - BBC Music Magazine These are beautiful, musical performances - Gramophone
  • For Lewis Wright's debut recording he is joined by British piano virtuoso Kit Downes for a disc of his own works: “There is limited material for vibraphone and piano (especially for improvising musicians), which has the potential to be so rhythmically interesting and polyphonically grand. I set out to compose pieces that showcase the instruments and are built around the language of the musicians. The right pianist, who can speak in this particular dialect of improvisation and has similar taste in the moment, was an obvious choice. Kit and I have known each other and played together since childhood and we share many influences, musical and otherwise.” Lewis Wright, 2018 Lewis Wright is an award-winning British vibraphonist, composer and drummer based in London. As a vibraphonist, he was nominated for Rising Star in the 2016 Downbeat International Critics Poll, and was awarded Ensemble of the Year in the 2016 Parliamentary Jazz Awards with Empirical and the Worshipful Company of Musicians prize in 2011. He has performed at venues such as the Sydney Opera House and the Royal Albert Hall, and has been a featured soloist with Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Centre Orchestra. A set of exquisitely conceived pieces that highlight both the natural range and colouration of the two instruments, but also the improvisational instincts of the two performers - Jazz Journal The sense of unity and clarity of piano and vibes resonates throughout this highly impressive and musical debutJazzwise
  • The Mozartists present an unprecedented survey of Mozart’s childhood stay in London from 1764-65. The wide-ranging programme includes Mozart’s remarkable first symphony (composed when he was eight years old), along with his two other London symphonies and his first concert aria. The repertoire also explores music that was being performed in London during Mozart’s stay, including works by J. C. Bach, Thomas Arne, Abel, Pescetti, Perez, George Rush and William Bates, many of which have not previously been recorded. The album features an outstanding line-up of soloists comprising sopranos Ana Maria Labin, Anna Devin, Rebecca Bottone, Martene Grimson and Eleanor Dennis, mezzo- soprano Helen Sherman, tenors Ben Johnson and Robert Murray and harpsichordist Steven Devine. The album was recorded live during a weekend of performances at London’s Milton Court in February 2015 as part of the opening season of MOZART 250, and includes over a dozen world premiere recordings. Presto Classical's Top 100 Recordings of 2018 This ingenious “musical exploration of Mozart’s childhood visit to London” interweaves three early symphonies and the concert aria K21 with music performed in the city during the family’s stayThe Sunday Times Vigorous vocal music by Thomas Arne, a dazzling harpsichord concerto from JC Bach, and a Carl Friedrich Abel symphony as tastily rich as a chocolate éclairThe Times Ian Page with his handpicked orchestra of around 20 players, is a dab hand at this sort of stuffClassic FM Page draws lively and engaging performances from his orchestra, and the results certainly charm, whilst the programming ensures that there is much of interest as it illuminates musical life in 1760s London so wonderfully - Planet Hugill As ever, Page draws lively and engaging performances from his orchestra, and the results certainly charmThe Epoch Times
  • Celebrated soloists Roderick Wiliams and Christopher Glynn perform a new English translation Franz Schubert’s Winterreise. Composed in 1827 whilst in the grip of the illness that would ultimately kill him, Schubert’s setting of Wilhelm Muller’s poetry takes on an added tragic interpretation as it follows the narrative of a spurned lover travelling through a cold and barren landscape. This disc is the first in a series of three English language programmes of Schubert’s song cycles. Future releases include The Shepherd on the Rock (Der Hirt auf dem Felsen) and The Fair Maid of the Mill (Die schöne Müllerin). The immediacy of the storytelling is immaculate - The Sunday Times The biggest gain is Roderick Williams’s fabulous delivery and his beautiful creamy voice which I can never get too much of, and supported beautifully again by Chris Glynn, so musically it’s great - BBC Radio 3 Record Review It's exceptionally effective, and mandatory listening if, like me, you're not a fluent German speakerThe Arts Desk This is an amazing disc, not the Winterreise to end all Winterreises but an essential complement to them. I gather that Glynn and Signum have recordings the other two cycles up their sleeve, which is good news indeedPlanet Hugill Those who have been longing for an English version of Winterreise need not hesitate, and avid collectors of this song cycle – like myself – will find that this is a valuable addition to their collectionMusic Web International
  • Guitarist Christoph Denoth returns to disc on Signum with a new disc of works inspired by South America, centred on the iconic tango.

    The continent of South America, with its diverse countries and various lines of historical development, has stimulated the creation of many musical traditions. But throughout the heterogeneous patterns of culture, the guitar has a central part to play as a national instrument in all South American countries. This selection (titled tanguero, describing one who sings or dances the tango) brings together many of the styles and genres of that vast continent in a colourful blend of melodies, rhythms, and harmonies.

    ★★★★ The imagination and intensity of the original music shines - Planet Hugill What makes Denoth’s offering a must-have is a musical sensitivity exemplified as much by his curation as by his playing - Gramophone

    Denoth brings lyricism and fire to his performances - BBC Music Magazine

  • Joseph Nolan marks his 10th release on Signum Classics with a recording on the remarkable 1738 Christian Muller organ of St Bavo in the Dutch city of Haarlem. Housed in one of the most spectacular organ cases in the world, the instrument's renowned clarity of tone makes it perfectly suited to Reubke's Sonata on the 94th Psalm, which forms the heart Nolan's programme alongside works by Bach, Buxtehude and Mendelssohn.

    British-Australian organist and choral conductor Dr Joseph Nolan has been hailed by ABC Classic FM as ‘an extraordinary musician’, by BBC Radio 3 Record Review as ‘Magnificent’ and by Gramophone as ‘perceptive and intensely musical’. A nominee for Artist of the Year, Limelight Magazine also awarded Joseph its coveted ‘Recording of the Month’ for his ninth disc for Signum Records from St Etienne du Mont, Paris (SIGCD470), the church and organ of Maurice Duruflé – the first time in the history of the magazine that an organ disc has been awarded this distinction.

    ★ Reubke's Sonata on the 94th Psalm rings out here with robust brilliance - Choir and Organ A wonderful accomplishment - Gramophone This could well prove to be the organ disc of the decade Music Web International
  • Andrew Nethsingha and The Choir of St John’s College, Cambridge mark the centenary of the 1918 Armistice with a new recording of choral works by Ralph Vaughan Williams. Many of the works were composed in the years immediately following the event, including O clap your hands, Lord, thou hast been our refuge and the Mass in G minor which leads the programme.

    Vaughan Williams turned his attention to liturgical music following his service as a wagon orderly during the Great War. Ursula Vaughan Williams, his second wife and biographer, wrote that such work ‘gave Ralph vivid awareness of how men died’. It is perhaps unsurprising that in many of the texts to which he turned after the 1918 Armistice, the fragility and weakness of humanity becomes a recurrent theme. Despite being described as a ‘confirmed atheist’ by the philosopher Bertrand Russell, his heightened exploration of Christian texts, symbols, and images after the War might rather be understood both as an attempt to grapple anew with what might lie, as he put it, ‘beyond sense and knowledge’, and to search for consolation in religious and other inherited traditions amid a world irrevocably changed.

    I admire both the outstanding quality of the treble line and the excellent sense of ensemble - Cathedral Music Magazine The great virtues of the disc are the way it brings RVW's into a different focus yet also emphasises the transcendent mysticism which is the essential core to the music - Planet Hugill This is a very fine disc indeed. Andrew Nethsingha has chosen the music with great discernment and conducts it with evident commitment and understanding - Music Web International
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