• Owen Rees leads early-music consort Contrapunctus alongside The Choir of The Queen’s College, Oxford in performances of John Taverner’s masterwork, the Missa Gloria tibi trinitas. A virtuosic work, it has pride of place in the Forrest-Heyther partbooks (in the Bodleian Library in Oxford), which it has been variously argued originated at Cardinal College or at the Chapel Royal. It might well have been heard on Trinity Sunday in the chapel of Cardinal Thomas Wolsey’s palace at Hampton Court. The work is accompanied by other sacred choral works by Taverner, including his Ave Maria composed for Wolsey’s Cardinal College, Oxford, and one of his most widely copied works, Gaude plurimum – a dramatic work where Taverner exploits the power of his full forces to evoke Christ’s harrowing of hell and the breaking of ‘the bloody powers of the prince of eternal death.’ Contrapunctus is an early-music vocal ensemble dedicated to passionate interpretations informed by authoritative insight and understanding. Directed by Owen Rees, a specialist in music of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the group presents imaginative programmes revealing previously undiscovered musical treasures and throwing new light on familiar works. Performance ★★★★ Recording ★★★★★ Rees brings together both of his crack ensembles [and] the 40-strong collective recreates [Taverner's] lavish sound - BBC Music Magazine ★★★★★ Rees has a natural affinity for this music, whether underlining differences of mood, allowing phrases to bloom or deftly judging cadential arrivals, his touch is instinctive - Classical Source ★★★★★ [A] thrilling new recording - Planet Hugill 9/10 Between them the music of John Taverner comes alive and whether your interest is in Tudor polyphony of acappella choral singing this release will bring much pleasure - Cross Rhythms This glorious programme of polyphony by John Taverner offers much opportunity for contrast as delicate, sinuous passages of vocal chamber music open up into densely populated choral vistas - Choir & Organ The full ensemble brings an undeniable grandeur - Gramophone A must for early music devotees - The Northern Echo A very fine album - MusicWeb International Beautifully recorded by Signum, this is a novel and beautiful Tudor choral release - AllMusic
  • The Choir of St John’s College, Cambridge’s advent service is a staple of the British choral world, and is broadcast on BBC Radio 3 almost every year. The service features much-loved favourites from the festive season alongside a variety of new works commissioned especially for the event. This disc of live recordings features performances by the choir from their four most recent services from 2014-17. ★★★★ This superbly programmed collection will take your Advent listening in unexpected, but entirely apposite, directions - BBC Music Magazine The choir has retained its renowned clarity, flamboyance and readiness to take risks - Gramophone The choir has retained its renowned clarity, flamboyance and readiness to take risks - The Guardian This disc gives a very good flavour of the excellent Advent music one can hear at St John’s - MusicWeb International
  • In the centenary year of the Armistice of 1918, thoughts turn to the great human cost of the First World War and many subsequent armed conflicts. Released in support of the charity Combat Stress, this commemorative recording explores the themes associated with human conflict. The programme brings together texts and music pointing to the frailty that leads to the violence of war, but also to triumphs of the human spirit that so often arise from situations of the deepest desolation.

    The Choir of Chichester Cathedral are led by Charles Harrison in this collection of works by composers affected by the Great War, including Stanford, Bainton, Ireland, Howells, Parry and Elgar.

    Such understated yet beautifully moulded singing - Gramophone No other collection matches this - MusicWeb International Lest We Forget brings together eloquent pieces of music and text that reach remarkable depths of musical and artistic expression that still resonate in the modern day - Chichester Observer Both singing and playing are first class within the clear acoustic of Chichester Cathedral - Cross Rhythms Farrington's imaginative re-working of the orchestral score for organ should win it many devotees, especially in this fine performance - Planet Hugill
  • One of the UK’s most lauded composers, Roxanna Panufnik celebrates her 50th birthday with a new release of her previously unrecorded choral music, performed by leading British choir Ex Cathedra under Jeffrey Skidmore. Known for her interest in world music, the programme includes performances from Indian arts organisation Milapfest on Unending Love, as well as the a recording of Child of Heaven: Dawn Chorus III – a new commission from Ex Cathedra that sets a Hymn to Dawn from the Rig Veda.

    Roxanna has written a wide range of pieces including opera, ballet, music theatre, choral works, chamber compositions and music for film and television which are regularly performed all over the world. This disc follows the 2017 release of 99 Words (SIGCD519), combining works by Panufnik and Sir John Tavener.

    ★★★★ Beguiling and soothing, it’s Panufnik at her most individual - Classical Source ★★★★ Very exciting - All Music A pleasurable disc - Gramophone

    The work is elegantly-shaped and full of warmth, rather like this disc as a whole - BBC Music Magazine

    This album is a fine and nicely varied birthday gift from Ex Cathedra to Roxanna Panufnik - Music Web International

  • Hymns are a living link with the past, yet they still find freshness and relevance in the twenty- first century. Saint Thomas Aquinas comments that ‘hymns are the praise of God with song; a song is the exultation of the mind dwelling on eternal things, bursting forth in the voice’ and this explains neatly the vital place that hymnody has enjoyed throughout the ages, and continues to do so today. Praise my soul celebrates this glorious tradition of hymnody and showcases some of the hymns heard in Jesus College Chapel in their own regular pattern of choral services. Some of these, including Drop, drop, slow tears and Glory to thee, my God, this night have been sung regularly for hundreds of years. Others such as All my hope on God is founded or Christ Triumphant have become classics over the last half-century.

    The Choir of Jesus College Cambridge return to disc on Signum with their seventh release, and their first under choral director Richard Pinel.

    A magnificent disc of fine hymn tunes and outstanding music making - MusicWeb International
  • 2018 Grammy Award nominees Tenebrae perform a new collection of choral works by Polish composer Paweł Łukaszewski.

    Born in southern Poland in 1968 in the city of Częstochowa and described by Gramophone as writing “enchanting choral music…beautifully measured phrases, immaculately tailored textures and ingenious use of light and shade to invoke light shining in darkness”, Łukaszewski has secured a place in the forefront of European sacred music with performances throughout the world and his works featuring on over one hundred recordings. He studied at the Fryderyk Chopin Academy of Music, where he still teaches, and is now the Artistic Director and Conductor of Musica Sacra Cathedral Choir in Warsaw.

    This collection of sacred choral works bears an easily-discernible cultural link with his Polish predecessors such as Lutosławski and Penderecki, but the influence of Henryk Górecki and the Estonian Arvo Pärt is evident too in the fervent but restrained spiritual aspect of Łukaszewski’s music, and his individual voice never stoops to mere imitation.

    There is always a sense of rhythmic and harmonic displacement about his work, which makes it not only difficult to deliver but curiously timeless  - Choir and Organ Very effectiveGramophone I would strongly recommend this as a CD of great interest, wonderfully well sung - Cathedral Music Magazine Moving and upliftingCross Rhythms I offer plaudits to Nigel Short and Tenebrae for their quality of singing and commitment - iClassical
  • The Choir of The Queen’s College, Oxford celebrate the works of choral music icon Herbert Howells in a disc that sets his works alongside pieces that they inspired and influenced – such as Nico Muhly’s Like as the Hart for choir, solo violin and percussion – as well as works that in turn influenced him. The disc features two world premiere recordings by David Bednall: settings of two Marian antiphons Alma redemptoris mater and Ave regina caelorum that ‘complete’ the partly-lost set of works that Howells wrote for Westminster Cathedral.

    Led by their director Owen Rees, the Choir of The Queen’s College, Oxford is among the finest and most active university choirs in the UK. Its wide-ranging repertory includes a rich array of music from Renaissance and Baroque masterpieces to contemporary works, including commissions.

    ★ A distinguished disc - Choir and Organ

    An excellent disc: the singing is incredibly tight, in the manner to which it has become increasingly accustomed under its musical director, Owen Rees, and Bednall’s writing is ingenious Gramophone

    This is a welcome disc of some lesser-known repertoire - Cathedral Music Magazine A well planned collection of British sacred musicMusic Web International
  • 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
  • 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
  • Pianist Malcolm Martineau brings together some of the UK’s finest singers for the third release in his series charting the complete songs of French composer Gabriel Fauré. This series follows Martineau’s well-received 5-CD series of The Complete Songs of Francis Poulenc.
  • Tenebrae return to disc on Signum in performances exploring the Psalms in Music. With trumpets and well-tuned cymbals, the musical and prayerful richness of the Book of Psalms inspires vastly differing offerings from composers with a myriad of approaches to combining the two worlds of the symphonic and the choral. The results are works which defy categorisation and stand the test of time with audiences and performers alike. Joined by the BBC Symphony Orchestra under the choirs director Nigel Short, they perform iconic works by Stravinsky (Symphony of Psalms), Bernstein (Chichester Psalms), Zemlinsky (Psalm 23), as well as Schoenberg’s final significant tonal work Freide auf Erden. Described as “phenomenal” ( The Times) and “devastatingly beautiful” (Gramophone Magazine), award-winning choir Tenebrae, under the direction of Nigel Short, is one of the world’s leading vocal ensembles renowned for its passion and precision. ★★★★★ These contrasting views of how composers responded to psalm settings in the last century…add up to a highly desirable disc - Financial Times The parallel third harmonies at 'In wie mancher heil'gen Nacht' are as remotely beautiful as they are hard to achieveGramophone It lives up to Tenebrae’s stated core values of passion and precisionClassical Source An excellent disc full of admirable singing and playing - Cathedral Music Magazine You don‘t normally hear [Stravinsky’s Symphony of Psalms] traversed with a vocal group with the power, accuracy and security of Tenebrae - BBC Radio 3 Record Review The musical and prayerful richness of the Psalms inspires vastly different offerings from composers - Northern Echo This is a most interesting programme, superbly performed - Music Web International Tenebrae and the BBC Symphony Orchestra’s Symphonic Psalms is the most brilliant thing about 2018 so far - Thoroughly Good Blog
  • Drawing international media attention following their founding in 2014, The Girls’ Choir of Canterbury Cathedral have quickly become leading lights in the British choral music landscape. For their first recording with Signum – led by their director David Newsholme – they draw on the rich catalogue of what have become British cathedral anthems from the 16th Century to the 20th, performing works by composers including Tallis, Byrd, Stanford, Parry and Howells. They are joined on this recording by the Men of Canterbury Cathedral choir, as well as organists Aidan Bawtree and Nicholas Wearne. ★★★★ A highly enjoyable, well recorded CD that flows well and contains some wonderful singing… Go ahead and buy it! - iClassical The Girls and Men of Cantebury Cathedral Choir [draw] in the rich catalogue of what have become British cathedral anthems - Northern Echo
  • 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
  • 99 WORDS

    £12.00
    Voce Chamber Choir’s new disc is a moving tribute to Sir John Tavener, featuring a selection of works by him (many of which are previously unrecorded) and by Roxanna Panufnik. At the heart of the disc is the premiere recording of Panufnik’s 99 Words to my Darling Children, a moving setting of Tavener’s last message to his family. As well as the Voce Chamber Choir, the disc features performances from cellist Matthew Barley, organist James Sherlock and narration from Simon Russell Beale. ★★★★★ Voce Chamber Choir offer a well-balanced sound with a polished sheen to their singing. An unusual and most welcome disc - Choir and Organ The result – a lullaby that cradles its sung text with infinite tenderness – is exquisite, and beautifully handled… a strong, and very welcome, first outing - Gramophone It’s a really lovely programme… lovely moment of connection between the two, a lovely homageBBC Radio 3
  • Hertfordshire Chorus continue to build on their reputation for commissioning and performing some of the very best in contemporary choral music. In their first recording with Signum they are joined by the BBC Concert Orchestra for a 2CD set featuring James McCarthy’s Codebreaker (an exploration of the life of the pioneering computer scientist and mathematician Alan Turing) and Will Todd’s Ode to a Nightingale (setting the famous poem by John Keats). The BBC Concert Orchestra offer superb support to both composers and the engineering is up to Signum’s customary excellence. This important release should be in every keen choral singer’s Christmas stockingGramophone Splendidly recorded and performed… I give a thorough recommendation to this issueMusic Web International For me, this is undoubtedly the choral album of the yearThe High Arts
  • 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