• Prayers for Mankind celebrates the life and writings of Father Alexander Men, a Russian Orthodox Christian priest who, whilst being little known outside of his home country during his lifetime, has come to be hailed as a saint and martyr by thousands all over the world. 2010 marks the anniversary of what would have been his 85th Birthday, as well as 20 years since his brutal assassination on the way to a Sunday morning service.

    Following years of religious suppression under the communist regime, Father Alexander Men emerged as a leading Christian and humanitarian figure in Russia, through radio and TV broadcasts and his prolific written works. These prayers, set by Russian composer Alexander Levine, capture the beauty and humanity of Men’s view of the world, and is brought vividly to life by Nigel Short’s professional chamber choir Tenebrae.

    A recent review for Tenebrae (from their June disc - Figure Humaine, SIGCD197)

    “… they seem to have an extra gear, a kind of choral over-drive that allows them to soar almost serenely over corners that have some of the finest vocal ensembles showing the strain.” BBC Radio 3, CD Review, Andrew McGregor, May 2010

     
  • Purcell’s ever-green chamber opera Dido & Aeneas, its story drawn from Virgil’s epic, the Aeneid, is performed by the Armonico Consort with an astounding selection of soloists. Armonico Consort is one of the largest and most innovative organisations of its kind in the UK, existing to inspire audiences with its unique programmes. ★★★★ Lithe, colourful, tastefully phrased and dynamically astute playing...[the cast] sing compellingly and inhabit their roles with the same sensitivity that distinguishes the whole performanceThe Daily Telegraph
    A clean, uncluttered account featuring crystalline voices, good diction, safe tempos and well-defined phrasing...vocal ensembles are luminous and the instrumental playing is bright and streamlined. Best of all is Rachael Lloyd's dignified Dido, rich-voiced, poetic and flawlessly deliveredThe Guardian The Armonico Consort and its musical director, Christopher Monks, capture this abundance of inspiration in a performance full of life and variety...Rachael Lloyd's dignified Dido and Elin Manahan Thomas's bright Belinda are well contrastedFinancial Times This small-scale version of Purcell's evergreen masterpiece has much to commend itEarly Music Today
  • Signum Classics are proud to release a LIVE recording of the stirring performance by Tenebrae of Rachmaninoff’s ‘All-Night Vigil’ (Vsenoshchnoye bdeniye, Op. 37). The recording was made live at the North Wales International Music Festival in conjunction with Boosey & Hawkes, Music Publishers Ltd. The roots of the Russian Orthodox Church are traceable back into the Third Century A.D. Whilst Western forms of Christianity continued to evolve, the Orthodox tradition has been preserved largely intact since the 11th Century, despite persecution of the Church under an intolerant Communist regime in Russia. The music of the Russian Orthodox Church features vocal chants, the oldest of which is known as znamenny (from the Slavonic znamia meaning “sign”). The melody of this chant is extremely simple, and whilst other composers added their characteristic harmonic effects, Rachmaninoff consciously preserved the modal purity of the original in his setting of the Vespers. The all-night vigil is celebrated on the eve of the main feasts of the Orthodox Church. Originally it lasted all night and consisted of three separate services to celebrate the beauty of the setting sun, and to reflect on the spiritual light of Christ as the new light of the coming day and the eternal light of heaven. Rachmaninoff’s setting of the vigil was written in 1915, in the middle of the First World War. He has used authentic znamenny chant in seven movements, with two movements employing Greek chants. “Even in my dreams I could not have imagined that I would write such a work” Rachmaninoff told the singers at the first performance in March 1915. The work is dedicated to the scholar Stephan Vasilevitch Smolensky who introduced Rachmaninoff to the repertoire of the church, however the composer’s inspiration was as much politically motivated as spiritually – the composition was a powerful affirmation of nationalism during the war. Nigel Short and Tenebrae have just the right balance of control and passion, reverence and exuberance that makes for such a superb performance - The Organ Intimate and powerfully atmospheric, shedding new and memorable light on what usually comes across as a massive choral spectacular - Classic FM Magazine
  • The BBC Singers, led by David Hill, are the UK's only full-time professional chamber choir, and their repertoire and virtuosic versatility are almost boundless. The BBC Singers regularly work with the BBC's own orchestras as well as a number of period instrument and contemporary ensembles both in concert and in the recording studio. This disc features the compositional talent of one of the BBC Singer's former members, Judith Bingham. Bingham is considered a talented all-round composer, having written for a variety of different ensembles including symphonic wind ensembles, brass bands and solo instrumentalists, Despite this she is best known for her choral work, in which she has been commissioned by such ensembles as The King's Singers, the BBC Symphony Chorus and King's College Choir, Cambridge, She has won numerous awards including the Barlow Prize for a cappela music and three British Composer awards.
  • On The Vasari Singers' debut disc with Signum Records we present a deeply intimate recording of personal and moving works by Herbert Howells and Frank Martin. In 1935 Herbert Howells’ son died at the age of nine. Howells sought release and consolation in his writing, and composed the a cappella six-movement Requiem as a private document to his son. Indeed, Howells considered his Requiem so personal an outpouring that he felt the need to withhold it from publication. It was not released until 1980, only three years before the composer ’s own death. The motet Take him, earth, for cherishing has the dedication "To the honoured memory of John Fitzgerald Kennedy, President of the United States of America", and was composed for the commemoration in Washington on 6th June 1964. Frank Martin was a deeply religious man. He composed the Mass for Double Choir, early in his career. The work embodies the profound nature of his beliefs, and was the only work that Martin wrote purely for liturgical purposes. Such was the intensely intimate nature of the work, that, like Howells, the composer withheld it, and kept the manuscript safely in a drawer for over forty years. As Martin himself wrote, "This was something between God and me, that concerned nobody else". Over the last two decades, The Vasari Singers has built up an enviable reputation for excellence, versatility and sensitivity in both live performances and recordings. They perform these pieces with passion and devotion, and capture the very private and deep-rooted feelings contained within each work.
  • On their premiere recording, the Old Royal Naval College Trinity Laban Chapel Choir, directed by celebrated choral conductor Ralph Allwood, perform the works of British Choral Award winner Roderick Williams. Based in Greenwich, East London the choir is comprised of both students from the conservatoire (including several choral scholars) as well as outstanding volunteer singers. It is unique amongst cathedral, church and collegiate choirs in the UK in that it has ready access to the wide range of musical resources at the Conservatoire, collaborating frequently in a wide variety of genres as well as performing for services at the beautiful 18th Century Chapel of St Peter & St Paul. As well as being renowned as a singer Roderick Williams is also well-respected as a composer, and his works have been premiered at the Wigmore and Barbican Halls, the Purcell Room and live on national radio. ★★★★ This is a well presented introduction to a contemporary composer of whom I hope and expect to hear more - Cross Rhythms This vivid choral anthology has given continued pleasure throughout the year, filled as it is with an astonishing versatility of moods and styles - Gramophone This disc shows another equally distinguished side to one of the UK’s leading singers. It’s very well worth hearing - MusicWeb International
  • Combining perennial favourites with wonderful new discoveries, these immediately appealing pieces reflect the much-loved repertoire at the heart of a King’s Singers programme, performed with the skill and flair that distinguishes the group as one of the world’s most popular a cappella ensembles. Includes works by Elgar, Schumann, Schubert and Saint-Saëns, as well as a new piece by popular American composer Libby Larsen. This latest venture between Signum Classics and The King’s Singers follows hot on the heels of a Live DVD and CD release of their 2008 performance for the BBC Proms in the Royal Albert Hall (SIGDVD005 and SIGCD150), and the 2008 Grammy-nominated album Simple Gifts (SIGCD121).
  • On a new disc to celebrate the 2012 Diamond Jubilee, The King's Singers present a selection of works from the past 500 years written in honour of the great Monarchs of Britain. Starting with works for (and in some cases by) Henry VIII, the programme covers the Elizabethan 'Triumphs of Oriana' by composers such as Gibbons, Mundy and Dowland; a very Victorian selection of dedicatory works by Elgar, Parry and Parratt; choral arrangements from the opera 'Glorianna' by Benjamin Britten; and a new piece by Paul Drayton that comically pens 'A Rough Guide to the Royal Succession'. Drayton is perhaps best known to fans of The King's Singers as the composer of their much-loved encore work Masterpiece. A notably intelligent, enjoyable Jubilee offering - BBC Music Magazine Premier English a cappella group provides its own celebrations in Jubilee Year - New Zealand Herald
  • Russian Treasures is the twentieth album from award-­winning professional choir, Tenebrae, and the first release on new label Bene Arte, established exclusively to record the choir and associated artists. Russian choral music has been a feature in Tenebrae’s concert performances since the choir’s inception and over the years they have worked extensively with Russian language coaches whilst nurturing their own characteristics of passion and precision to deliver a special and heartfelt tribute to the music of these great composers.

    This disc was inspired by the rare manuscripts collected by director Nigel Short during his travels around Russia.

    The exquisite collection includes some little-­known gems, rarely heard outside Russia and never before recorded in the UK, as well as some familiar favourites from this vast area of choral repertoire.

     
  • Signum Classics are proud to release the King's Singers fifth disc on Signum; Sacred Bridges. For thousands of years, the biblical Psalter has been the liturgical “heart” of the three main book religions: Judaism, Christianity and Islam. The Psalms announce the word of God and, simultaneously, contain the full range of human experience. Jews, Christians and Muslims sing and listen to the same songs of lament and joy, confessions of sin, hymns of praise and adoration. In this project of the King’s Singers and Sarband, psalm settings by composers from three religions give an example of how psalms can be a source of spirituality, a political instrument, a link between tradition and modernity and, above all, a bridge connecting human beings. Immaculate blend, perfect tuning and crystal diction ... Superb performances across the cultural divide show that great art transcends political differences - The Times A fascinating, attractive, beautifully performed-album - Gramophone Perfectly judged and beautifully blended sound - Classic FM Magazine An intriguing disc, and far more than a curiosity - Early Music Review A real gift to ... music lovers that need a special musical holiday gift - Mid West Record Recap
  • Crouch End Festival Chorus presents two Britten classics: Saint Nicolas and A Ceremony of Carols. Full of vibrancy and drama, Saint Nicolas is performed alongside the fabulous BBC Concert Orchestra and features tenor Mark Le Brocq as well as Coldfall Primary School Choir, members of Hertfordshire Chorus and Hannah Brine Choirs. The ever-popular A Ceremony of Carols is performed with harpist Sally Pryce, and both works are conducted by David Temple.
  • There was a craze for the music of Josquin Desprez in sixteenth-century Spain. All three of the greatest Spanish composers of the age – Morales, Guerrero, and Victoria – were directly inspired by one particular rhetorical effect developed by Josquin: ostinato, the repetition throughout a piece of a musical motto. This album explores Josquin’s legacy as manifest in the motets of Morales, Guerrero, and Victoria, and in Victoria’s great six-voice Missa Gaudeamus. In the hands of such composers the use of ostinato produces results that are dynamic, compelling, and striking in expressive impact. These work show the Spanish composers not just emulating Josquin but also competing to out do him in inventiveness.   All downloads include booklets.
  • Shared Ground is a set of works by the British composer Alec Roth, featuring several poems and sung texts by the Indian writer Vikram Seth. The title piece of the same name is inspired by Seth’s poetry following a decision to buy and live in the Old Rectory in Bemerton – the former home of the 17thcentury poet and priest George Herbert. Other works on the disc expand this idea of a shared home or dwelling, with Earthrise – the reflections of Apollo astronauts on viewing the planet from orbit – and Hymn to Gaia.

    This disc follows the 2008 release of Roth’s Songs in Time of War (SIGCD124), featuring the tenor Mark Padmore with Philippe Honoré, Alison Nichols (harp) and Morgan Szymanski (guitar).

     

     

     

  • Sibylla

    £12.00

    Literally meaning ‘rooster song’ or ‘cock crow’, Gallicantus takes its name from monastic antiquity; the name of the office held just before dawn, it was a ceremony which evoked the renewal of life offered by the coming day. Dedicated to renaissance music and directed by Gabriel Crouch, the membership of this early music group boasts a wealth of experience in consort singing.

    Renowned for their critically-acclaimed and researched programmes, Gallicantus present Sibylla. At the heart of the programme is Orlandus Lassus’s 16th Century Prophetiae Sibyllarum, which sets to music the texts of ancient Sibylline prophecies telling of the coming of Christ.

    One of the composer’s most renowned and celebrated works, it is performed alongside settings by the ‘Sibyl of the Rhine’ Hildegard von Bingen, as well contemporary responses to Lassus’s work. Dmitri Tymoczko’s Prophetiae Sibyllarum sets poems by Jeff Dolven which recast the sibyls’ role: this time to the teller of grim truths of present life in post-industrial America. As an epilogue the album finishes with Elliot Cole’s ‘I saw you under the fig tree’ (part of his suite Visions) – a simple 4-part setting beneath an extraordinary countertenor glissando, setting Jesus Christ’s response to Nathaniel.

    ★★★★★ The extraordinary Gallicantus sing with micrometrical precise articulation and flawless pitching - Choir and Organ This CD is evidence of an intimate understanding of this challenging music and is as fine an account of the score as has been committed to CD to date - Early Music Review
  • 2012 marks the 15th anniversary of the first release from the leading independent classical label Signum Records. Beginning life as an early music specialist, 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:
    • A Cappella and Choral Music (The King's Singers, Tenebrae, VOCES8, The Swingle Singers, Rodolfus Choir)
    • Orchestral and Chamber Music (Philharmonia Orchestra, London Sinfonietta, Gabrieli Consort & Players, OAE, LCO, Smith Quartet),
    • Instrumental Soloist Recitals (Jamie Walton, Alessio Bax, Matthew Barley, Llyr Williams, James Rhodes)
    • Art song and Lieder (Iain Burnside, Malcolm Martineau, John Mark Ainsley, Mark Padmore, Ailish Tynan, Felicity Lott, Sarah Connolly, Jonathan Lemalu)
    In our new anniversary series we have drawn on this extensive catalogue to form six collectable releases, assembled around the themes of A Cappella, Early Music, Organ Music, Choral Music, Art Song, and Piano Music. Buy all 6 together for just £20
  • This programme explores that vast twentieth-century secular English choral repertoire which goes under the generic title ‘partsongs’. It is an extraordinarily rich repertoire to which almost all the famous composers contributed. Buried amongst vast quantities of slightly twee pastoralism – the much-derided “cow-pat” school – are to be found many settings of glorious poetry, forming a corpus of sublime twentieth-century madrigals at least as fine as their famous renaissance forebears. However, this programme has another particular theme: how poets and composers reflect upon the natural world as a metaphor for our own emotional experience. At the heart of this programme is the complex relationship between man and nature, the bitter-sweetness of a radiant and beautiful dawn creating the same unbearable sadness of a ravishing song, and both with intimations of mortality. ★★★★★ This is a simply gorgeous CD, superbly executed - Choir and Organ ★★★★ The Gabrieli Consort, conducted by Paul McCreesh, sings Stanford’s The Blue Bird with such abstracted beauty that enchantment sets in from the opening minutes. Their collection of English part-songs mostly inhabits a dreamy, pastoral world, the home ground of Howells, Warlock and Vaughan Williams, though Elgar’s bleak Owls (loneliness or foreboding of death?) goes further. Outgoing narrative settings by Jonathan Dove and Grainger add story-telling and a dash of bold colours - Financial Times ★★★★ The effect is arresting, and typical of the attention to text and score demonstrated by Paul McCreesh and his singers. These miniatures are rich, each in need of proper savouring - The Observer ★★★★ The selection of pieces is evocative and thoughtful… Stanford’s The Blue Bird is concentrated and controlled, with a lovely clarity of line and a fine-grained elegance of sound. This song exemplifies the many virtues of the performances on this disc - Planet Hugill The result is a clever mixture of moods – a disc that takes the part-song into the 21st century not only in repertoire but also in style - Gramophone Successful and very cherishable… The key to its success is the gorgeous attention to detail which draws the most exquisite sounds from the choir - Music Web International