• 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
  • Music from the Fitzwilliam Virginal Book, transcribed for mixed consort.
    Disc of the Month: An inspired concept... outstanding in every respect - BBC Music Magazine
       
  • 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.  
  • Above the opening notes of The Protecting Veil, John Tavener wrote Transcendent With Awesome Majesty, communicating the scale of this universal, timeless, structurally perfect and emotionally powerful work. In the composer’s words, “the cello represents The Mother of God and never stops singing.” Indeed, the cello sings without stopping for the entire 46 minutes of the piece, requiring huge mental and physical stamina. Matthew Barley leads Sinfonietta Rīga in this exploration of Tavener’s musical works and inspirations, interspersing performances with readings of WB Yeats and Frithjof Schuon by renowned actors Julie Christieand Olwyn Fouéré. The influence Tavener drew from Indian music in The Protecting Veil is also explored further in Barley’s performance with tabla player Sukhvinder ‘Pinky’ Singh in The Song of Separation and Waiting by Pandit Sultan Khan. Matthew Barley is known internationally as a cellist, improviser, arranger, music animateur, and as Artistic Director of Between The Notes. His musical world is focused on projects that connect people in different ways, blurring the boundaries that never really existed between genres and people.
  • The Sacconi Quartet record the string quartets of British composer Graham Fitkin, The Composer writes in the introduction to this disc: “ The string quartet medium seems to me to thrive in contexts of both poignant intimacy or extrovert forceful information overload. (And indeed all those delicate shades in between.) I feel it has a strength of purpose that I relish, an honest homogeneity to it, a good wide pitch range and quite frankly the ability to play decent long sustained notes or short pizzicati. It’s been all too tempting.” Composed between 1992 and 2007, this disc compiles Fitkin’s complete works for String Quartet, performed by one of the UK’s most dynamic and versatile string quartets. The Sacconi Quartet, for whom the medium-length String was composed, play throughout with élan and what sounds like a complete understanding of the ebb and flow of each of these quite diverse pieces… A terrific disc that I encourage everyone to buyGramophone All weaved with his trademark rhythmic complexity - Northern Echo
  • 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 prolific composer and organist, Naji Hakim is truly one of the most versatile performer-composers working today, garnering praise from his numerous organ and composition competition prizes as well as an award from Pope Benedict XVI for his musical work in benefit of the church.This new recording continues Signum’s series of discs with Naji Hakim with a new selection of his chamber works, featuring performances by Rima Tawil, Magali Mosnier, Claire Foison, Quatuor de la Chapelle Royale (with Renaud Bary) as well as by the composer. These works draw on a wide range of influences: Phèdre sets the words of Jean Racine’s tragic work of the same name to music; Caprice en Rondeau is a sprightly piece featuring themes by Rameau; and the Diptyque combines folk tunes through the tonal pallate of the basque flute the txistu. The premiere recording of the Concerto for Piano is a tour-de-force for soloist Claire Foison, accompanied in this version for String Quintet by the Quatuor de la Chapelle Royale and Renaud Bary.
  • Soprano Gillian Keith joins the acclaimed Baroque ensemble Armonico Consort under Christopher Monks for the first release in a three disc series featuring the solo cantatas of Johann Sebastian Bach. Bach’s cantatas hold a special place amongst performers and devotees of his music. Whether sacred or secular, these works provide incredible variety for listeners and players alike. Some contain elements of storytelling similar to arias and recitatives from his great Passions; many have instrumental movements and solo passages that rival any of his concerti, and are indeed borrowed directly from some of the most famous. Not surprisingly, Bach’s cantatas are often incredibly virtuosic, demanding as much technical ability, style and understanding of the music as any of his other works. This first release features the cantatas nos. 82a, 202 (the famous “Wedding Cantata”) and 210.
  • 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
  • Tamsin Waley-Cohen and Huw Watkins continue their duo partnership with a new recording of works by two trailblazing composers from France and Poland respectively - Reynaldo Hahn and Karol Szymanowski. Waley-Cohen's playing is radiant and soaring, and Watkins's pianism a model as always of sensitivity - The Sunday Times An intelligent recital disk...all played with verve and style - The Guardian It is the sheer melting beauty in the opening pages of the final movement that makes Hahn's sonata so affecting, especially with Waley-Cohen's hushed tone... an enjoyable recital - BBC Music Magazine Tamsin Waley-Cohen produces a beautiful, soft, creamy tone in the lyrical passages, and throughout the recital we're treated to a remarkable palette of tone colours. Huw Watkins is able to match this range most effectively - Gramophone [Waley-Cohen] has a potent rhetorical style, moving neatly from dramatic flourishes and cadenzas into gentle lyricism... a fine performance - The Strad
  • This first release on Signum from one of the UK’s most dynamic string quartets, the Carducci Quartet demonstrate their passion and commitment to bringing contemporary repertoire to a wider audience. On this recording they are joined by oboist nicholas Daniel for three world premieres, all written specially for them and all premiered at the Presteigne Festival: Michael Berkeley’s Oboe Quintet, ‘Into the Ravine’, John McCabe’s String Quartet No. 7, ‘Summer Eves’, and Adrian Williams’ String Quartet No. 4.
    Compelling playing - Northern Echo  
  • 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

     
  • An exhilarating new album of contemporary music shaped by the collaborative musical collective Powerplant, featuring performances from percussionist Joby Burgess in collaboration with sound designer Matthew Fairclough and visual artist Kathy Hinde. 24 Lies Per Second combines works by contemporary British composers – Graham Fitkin, Max de Wardener and Dominic Murcott – with two pieces by compositional icons Conlon Nancarrow and Steve Reich, including the Reich work My Name Is (for audience and tape recorder) which has never before been released commercially. This release includes a bonus CD Plus video performance of Max de Wardener's Im Dorfe, which can be viewed when playing the CD on a PC. [Joby Burgess] is a 21st Century explorer at the edge ... Riveting! - Musical Pointers