• Matthew Barley adds to his reputation as one of the UK's most innovative and creative performers with the new programme and CD Around Britten – celebrating the centenary of Britten's birth with a selection of his works, including the Third Cello Suite and pieces by Sir John Tavener and Gavin Bryars. As always, Barley's playing is fearless. The disc is a voyage around the cello as well as around Britten, and one that never becomes relentless - Gramophone The performance of the Suite is a very fine one - International Record Review This engrossing recital is a defining statement in modern cello playing - Sinfini Music
  • Music from the Fitzwilliam Virginal Book, transcribed for mixed consort.
    Disc of the Month: An inspired concept... outstanding in every respect - BBC Music Magazine
       
  • Gesualdo

    £12.00
    Signum Records is proud to announce the release of the latest recording by The King's Singers: Gesualdo's Tenebrae Responsories for Maundy Thursday. The Italian Prince, Carlos Gesualdo, is probably most famous for the obsessive double murder of his first wife along with her lover, but his music is not always accredited with the same sense of celebrity. Gesualdo is known in traditional history books as an amateur composer. His music is characterised by wild gesticulation and abrupt starts and stops, particular to a composer who just didn’t know what he was doing. However, the 20th century has now uncovered our composer’s place in history as part of a larger movement of Neapolitan artists, and as perhaps the most forward-thinking, expressive and sensual composer of his time. The King’s Singers were fascinated by the naked honesty that is heard within this 400 year old music. It is so startling that it keeps its freshness of surprise even on many repeated hearings. The music portrays a desperate and wretched, but also passionate and loving person who is set on composing "further out" than anyone else. Gesualdo moved in the highest circles of Italy and was extremely wealthy. His decadent lifestyle allowed him to do and write exactly as he pleased, and at the tender age of 19 it brought him into close contact with one of the most attractive and admired women in Naples. Maria d’Avalos was twice widowed by the age of 25. Her marriage to Gesualdo was initially promising. However, Maria’s rich social life soon dominated the relationship and a profound and constant jealousy took possession of the young and highly sensitive composer. After four years of turmoil he hired professional murderers to assist him in killing wife and lover while they were in bed together. The violence and rage of the act is well-documented. After the murder of Maria, Gesualdo suffered from severe and increasing feelings of guilt. Penitence never left him and he was moved to compose church music of a most black and self-reproachful nature. The programme on this CD represents part of the liturgy for the Matins Offices on the final three days of Holy Week, the Triduum Sacrum. Each of the Matins services is divided into three nocturns, each containing psalmody, three lessons and three responsaries. The attention given to word-painting is exemplary - The Times A no holds barred, immaculately sung performance from the King's Singers. Unmissable - Classic FM Magazine
  • Italian Inspirations

    £8.00£14.00
    Alessio Bax plays an Italian inspired programme, picking his favourite pieces taken from a rich history of music from one of the most romantic countries in the world. He opens the programme with a J.S. Bach transcription of a oboe concerto by Venetian composer Alessandro Marcello, which reveals a deep insight into Bach’s mind. This is followed by Rachmaninov’s last ever work for solo piano, which is incredibly eloquent, introspective and personal. The Dallapiccola continues this eloquent theme, showing some beautifully crafted dodecaphonism. The recording is rounded off with two pieces of Liszt, which take the listener on a multi-legged journey through hell, purgatory and heaven, with beauty and drama along the way.   All downloads include booklets.
  • Voyages

    £12.00
    Soprano Mary Bevan and pianist Jopseph Middleton perform a programme exploring the genius of Baudelaire and Goethe, and how texts by them unlocked very speci c musical landscapes in settings by Debussy, Duparc, Chausson, de Bréville, Séverac, Fauré and Schubert. Praised by Opera for her “dramatic wit and vocal control” in stand out performances on opera and concert platforms, Mary Bevan is a winner of the Royal Philharmonic Society’s Young Artist award and UK Critics’ Circle Award for Exceptional Young Talent
    Pianist Joseph Middleton specialises in the art of song accompaniment and chamber music and has been highly acclaimed within this eld. Described in the BBC Music Magazine as “one of the brightest stars in the world of song and Lieder”, he has also been labeled “the cream of the new generation” by The Times and “a perfect accompanist” by Opera Now. ★★★★ A beautiful programme… they include plenty of intriguing and little-known songs that more than deserve these excellent interpretations - Primephonic Bevan’s purity of tone and discreet yet telling way with words can be by turns unnerving and alluring in the Baudelaire settings… Middleton, as one might expect, is marvellously insightful, playing throughout with weight as well as grace and subtlety - Gramophone
  • A trio of leading British solists perform a sumptuous selection of chamber music by the Romantic composers Brahms, Chopin, Schubert, Schumann and Strauss. The programme is centred around Schubert’s iconic The Shepherd on the Rock – written for the esteemed soprano Anna Milder- Hauptmann, it was to become virtually the final complete work that Schubert composed before his tragic death at 31.
    ★★★★ There are some lovely performances on this disc, with Tynan, Bliss and Glynn combining to make some real magic in the Schubert and Strauss - Planet Hugill
  • Early-music pioneers Charivari Agreable perform an engaging collection of overtures from the Italian Baroque Opera, best described by Kah- Ming Ng as being “lucidly crafted for the purpose of turning heads”. In a decadent era when the antics of theatre-goers was often as intriguing as the performances taking place on stage, these works were composed with the express intention of thrilling, beguiling and engaging an often hard-to-impress audience.
    This disc is full of insight and revelation, and to be highly recommendedEarly Music Review An inspired piece of programming ... a sense of sheer delight that brings these enticing scores resplendently to life - International Record Review [The disc] is very enjoyable and the music is brilliantly played... another gem [in an] already impressive discographyMusic Web International
  • Also available on DVD

    Joining several discs from Signum celebrating 2013's Britten Centenary Year comes a new collection of the three Suites for Solo Cello, performed by star UK cellist Jamie Walton. Recorded in the Britten Studio at Snape Maltings, Aldeburgh, the three suites were dedicated to Mstislav Rostropovich, with the passionate third in particular inspired by Rostropovich’s rich and romantic performances of Bach’s unaccompanied suites.

    Britten’s suites for solo cello are not perhaps an easy listen any more than they are easy to play, but Jamie Walton’s absorbing performances of all three seem to expose and explore the emotional heart and soul that went into the writing of them - The Daily Telegraph

    None of this music holds terrors for Walton, with his big, bold tone and formidable technique - The Sunday Times

    A musical triumph, captured in first-rate sound - Sinfini Music

     
  • Will Todd is one of the UKs most popular and performed modern choral composers. His output includes works for choir, stage works, and orchestral works, and his music has been featured on BBC Radio 2, 3 and 4 and Classic FM, and performed all over the UK, Europe and the USA. On this disc, Nigel Short conducts superlative performances of his works by his BBC Music Magazine Award-winning choir Tenebrae and the English Chamber Orchestra. This compilation of his works includes the premiere recording of a new comission 'The Call of Wisdom', which on June 5th 2012 will be presented on the occasion of a Service of Thanksgiving at St Paul’s Cathedral for the Diamond Jubilee of HM Queen Elizabeth II. [A] disc of miniature but perfectly formed musical marvelsGramophone
  • Recreating the exciting sound of swing from the 30’s and 40’s, Julian Bliss’s dynamic virtuosity leads his sextet through some of the great tunes of the swing era, staying true to the authentic feel but naturally with a modern twist. Julian Bliss says: "I decided in the summer of 2010 that I wanted to start my own Jazz group. I enlisted the help of Neal Thornton (Piano) to help make this dream a reality. We spent months listening to every version of each tune we could find, and putting together our own versions while still being mindful of the light and fun feel Goodman captured all those years ago. We then had the task of putting the rest of the band together. We were specifically looking for musicians that had a great interest in the Swing era, and I must say we couldn’t have picked a better set of players."  
  • British pianist Matthew Schellhorn is joined by the Soloists of the Philharmonia Orchestra in this recording of Olivier Messiaen's chamber works, including the eight-movement masterpiece Quatuor pour la fin du Temps, written while the composer was a prisoner of war and premiered in 1941 at the Stalag VIIIA camp in Silesia. Marking one hundred years since the birth of the composer, the disc also includes the newly published Fantaisie for violin and piano (discovered after the composer's death) and the world première recording of a beautiful miniature for solo piano. A worthwhile and distinctive release -  Gramophone
    Classical Editors' Favourite 2008: A heart-stoppingly beautiful performance ... Listeners who love Quatuor pour la fin du Temps owe it to themselves to hear this stellar versionAll Music Guide USA Admirers of Messiaen’s music will simply have to have this record … All in all, a highly recommendable CDInternational Record Review
  • Signum Classics are proud to release the Smith Quartet's debut disc on Signum Records - Different Trains. The disc contains three of Steve Reich's most inspiring works: Triple Quartet for three string quartets, Reich’s personal dedication to the late Yehudi Menuhin, Duet, and the haunting Different Trains for string quartet and electronic tape. The Smith Quartet's intense sound re-emphasises the rhapsodic ending of the work. Duet and Triple Quartet are also featured here and are played to perfection - The Independent on Sunday The Smith Quartet on the admirable Signum label is beautifully clear, and played with a rather touching delicacy which brings out the subtle poetry of the ending - BBC Music Magazine This five-star Signum issue [conveys] the emotional power or Reich's uncompromising writing - Music Week The Smiths are impressive in both pieces - The Guardian
  • The paintings of Thomas Gainsborough (1727-88) constitute one of the most poignant and evocative icons of Georgian England; he painted supremely accomplished portraits of a wide social spectrum, and landscapes which capture the verdancy of England prior to the Stygian advance of the Industrial Revolution. Gainsborough’s own creativity sought expression in music as much as in painting, which was unusual in an age when musical ability was mainly considered the preserve of the ladies. For this musical tribute to Gainsborough, we have gathered together pieces by several of his friends; Abel, J.C. Bach, Giardini, Linley & Straube. Played with impeccable good taste - Gramophone
  • "Her Majesty lay upon her back, with one hand in the bed and the other without. The bishop kneeled down by her, and examined her first of her faith: and she so punctually answered all his several questions by lifting up her eyes and holding up her hand, as it was a comfort to all beholders. Then the good man told her plainly, what she was and what she was to come to, and though she had been long a great Queen here upon earth, yet shortly she was to yield an account of her stewardship to the King of Kings. Between one and two of the clock on Thursday morning, he brought me word the Queen was dead." Thus wrote the queen’s cousin Sir Robert Carey, recording in his memoirs the events of March 23rd-24th 1603, and the end of an era in England’s history. Earlier, as Elizabeth I lay dying she called for her musicians to play around her bed so that “she may die gaily as she had lived, and that the horrors of death might be lessened; she heard the music tranquilly until her last breath”. As the 400th anniversary of her death approaches, The Queen’s Goodnight commemorates the music of the court of Queen Elizabeth I. The queen’s professional musical establishment was in some ways more modest than that of her father, Henry VIII, but she brought together the finest talent in the land and created collections of consort, lute and keyboard music that is still renowned today. Charivari Agréable demonstrate representative facets of this wonderful 16th century repertory. The pieces are selected with a passionate attention to detail and Charivari Agréable have included music that depicts the life of the queen: music from the court, an exhilarating depiction of a hunt, celebrations from the queen’s coronation and the moving laments on her death. Fertile imagination, excellent musicianship and persuasive playing make it a real delight - Early Music News
  • Signum Records is delighted to announce the release of A Songbook for Isabella. Isabella d’Este was brought up in the midst of an extremely active musical court. After her marriage in 1490 to Francesco Gonzaga Duke of Mantua she began to remodel the Duke's relatively modest musical establishment in imitation of that of her father, Hercule. She was herself a gifted musician and favoured above all the viol. Not only was the viol the favourite vehicle for aristocratic instrumental performance, but it was the ideal accompaniment to the voice. Under Isabella’s patronage the tradition of improvised song accompanied by the singer on a lira da braccio developed into the frottola, shared between two, three or even four viols. In employing Italian composers, and herself performing their music, Isabella played a key role in the development of this new music, and of the consort of viole which developed alongside it. This disc presents a selection of music from the circle of Isabella. The repertoire is centred around the Milliare Songbook - a hand written songbook compiled in 1502 by, or for, one Ludovico Milliare. This contains a wonderfully rich cross section of the vocal and instrumental repertoire loved by the d’Este family of Mantua. An attractive feature of the collection is the inclusion of sacred pieces, mostly non-liturgical and apparently intended for private devotional use. The instruments used for this recording have been thoroughly researched by examining documented and iconographic evidence - for example contemporary paintings of the period. The custom-made viols are cannot be called "copies"; they are recreations using the best information and scholarship available. This CD offers a rare opportunity to hear the very different sound these instruments make - rather different from their more modern counterparts from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. A very satisfying compilation combining scholarship with sensuous pleasureMusical Pointers A very civilized disc with music to charm and excitementLudwig Van Web Pleasurable and abundant discoveries await the more adventurous listenerMusicWeb International
  • The Ancient Greek word Kalon was used by philosophers to describe perfect physical and moral beauty. In this recording, the two string ensembles (the Albion Quartet and the Czech Philharmonic) explore the different aspects of Kalon through the context in which beauty can exist in ugliness and darkness. This record is the result of Richard Blackford's doctorate at the University of Bristol, which investigates the use of polytempo. The recording is a way of applying the findings of his doctorate in a range of musical contexts. Kalon is unique as it explores the use of polytempo in the context of extended tonality and modality, which could be said surpasses the complexity posed by serialist works of a similar nature, such as Stockhausen's Gruppen or Carré.