•  The festival of Christmas means many things to many people. Its status as an international public holiday provides a rare opportunity for families and friends from far and wide to come together. Being creatures of habit, many communities establish rituals to prepare for and mark the occasion, finding comfort in the familiarity of an annual structure. For some, the birth of Christ the Saviour is at the centre of these practices, while others regard Christmas as a secular celebration characterised by Santa and mulled wine. These diverse, multifaceted traditions of Advent and Christmas are explored throughout Now may we singen. With works by composers of different generations, backgrounds and musical legacies, Christmas as both ancient holy day and modern, ever evolving holiday is embraced by Timothy Garrard (director), Ben Bloor (organ) and the Choir of Westminster School through bold, characterful musical interpretations.
  • Choral music from the sixteenth-century, right up to the late-twentieth-century features on this beautiful eleven-track album, with stunning performances from The Choir of Royal Holloway. The Chapel Choir was established in 1886 for women’s voices & became a mixed choir in 1965. Forty-three years on and the choir have made 14 CD recordings & have toured most European countries, under the guidance of Rupert Gough, who began his musical training as a chorister at the Chapel Royal, St James’s Palace.
  • Armonico Consort return to disc on Signum with a festive selection of classic carols and hymns alongside new commissions and arrangements. The programme is rounded off by Benjamin Britten’s timeless A Ceremony of Carols. If you want this particular programme it is hard to imagine it being better performedEarly Music Review Highly recommended - Northern Echo Intimate, small-scale performances of mainly familiar titlesBBC Music Magazine
  • Nigel Short leads Tenebrae in a new album of sacred and jazz inspired choral works by Alexander L’Estrange, one of Britain’s most popular living choral composers.
    L'Estrange's works add a jazz-infused chordal depth and a roving harmonic eye to Howell's declamatory muscularity and modal palette. It's attractive, approachable music, with nothing contrived or patronising about it - Gramophone Vivid, varied and completely satisfying - Choir & Organ The choir masterfully interprets all the works to perfection and gains power and warmth from one piece to the next, offering to its listeners deep bass sounds as well as the brilliant homogeneity of voices - BachTrack On the showing of this disc, Alexander L'Estrange is the go-to person for evocative and striking small scale new commissions, something lyrically attractive with some luscious harmonies... Each item is perfectly lovely with the fine performances of Tenebrae giving us plenty of magical moments - Planet Hugill
  • The Elysian Singers of London celebrate the enormous and varied contribution of Sir James MacMillan (b. 1959) to the choral repertoire over the last 20 years. Beginning with MacMillan’s blazing 2016 ‘choral fanfare’ Blow the trumpet in the new moon, the programme explores the spiritual and secular texts that have influenced MacMillan, also including his monumental setting of Psalm 51 Miserere. The Elysian Singers of London is one of the UK’s leading chamber choirs. Known for its adventurous programming, the choir performs in and around London and has recorded many widely acclaimed CDs. This is the choir’s second recording of works by James MacMillan, following their critically-acclaimed first disc with Signum Cantos Sagrados.
  • When an ensemble like the BBC Singers, renowned for its commitment to the music of our own time, sets out to record a Christmas CD you can be sure that the repertoire will include material rather different from the usual run of popular standards and arrangements! One star at last includes eight new carols (six of them specially-commissioned by BBC Radio 3), several premiere recordings, and a selection of music - serious and light-hearted, contemplative and joyful - by some of the leading British, European and North American choral composers of the day. Astonishingly high standards of choral singing ... excellent performances and the organ contributions by Robert Quinney are all splendid ... Enthusiastically recommendedMusicweb International
  • A beautiful collection of songs, Only a Singing Bird features Michael Head’s best-known works, The Ships of Arcady and The Little Road to Bethlehem, as well as his beautifully-imagined, nostalgic song-cycle, Snowbirds.

    NYCoS National Girls Choir is joined by its patron and world renowned mezzo soprano, Karen Cargill for this incredible new recording.

     

     

  • The Choir of Jesus College Cambridge present this album of sacred works which follows events in the Church calendar.  From Ash Wednesday, through to the final feast of the year – Trinity, the recording features works by Bryd, Purcell, Casals, Elgar, Stanford, Britten, Tallis and James MacMillan, all directed by Mark Williams. ★★★★★ Bairstow's The Lamentation is interpreted with marvellous subtlety hereChoir & Organ Brooding and refinedThe Telegraph Fresh, engaging performances of works spanning the church year, from a choir moving swiftly up the Oxbridge pecking order. The Rorem and MacMillan pieces get especially fine performancesBBC Music Magazine
  • The Choral Scholars of University College Dublin and Artistic Director Desmond Earley follow up their debut release with a programme of new choral music inspired by the evocative imagery of the natural world in traditional Irish and Scottish folksong and poetry. The disc includes a number of world-premiere recordings of new works and arrangements commissioned by the choir. The Choral Scholars of University College Dublin, under the artistic direction of Desmond Earley, is Ireland’s leading collegiate choral ensemble. With a large repertoire ranging from art to popular music, and stretching from the medieval to the contemporary in style, this choir gives many concerts throughout the academic year, both in Ireland and abroad. This whole project exudes quality - Gramophone Excellently sung - BBC Music Magazine Earley [shapes] a sequence of traditional Irish settings with contemporary material, [and his] setting of 'Danny Boy' [is] quite beautiful - Choir & Organ
  • Piangete

    £12.00

    Signum Records is delighted to announce that the ensemble Concerto delle Donne will release their first disc on Signum Records in 2003. The disc will feature the cantatas and motets of Giacomo Carissimi.

    Carissimi is sometimes thought of as a "one-work composer" known to the average music-lover only for his oratorio Jephte. Choral Societies looking for 17th century music earlier than Purcell are therefore likely to choose Jephte.

    Alastair Ross first became interested in Carissimi’s music for the 3-soprano Concerto delle Donne line-up when he was asked to prepare a programme “Handel and his predecessors in Italy” for the 1977 Göttingen Festival. A review of Carissimi's oeuvre showed that there were several pieces by Carissimi in the library of Christ Church Oxford just waiting to be performed by the group! He chose the cantata Siam tre miseri piangenti which has become a regular item in their concerts and which is central to this recording. It’s a marvellous piece, full of pain, suffering and anger. The three voices really are equal in the way they intertwine and react to one another. Donna Deam’s solo Piangete and Gill Ross' and Elin Thomas’s duet Ahi, non torna are similar in mood. Maybe in our cynical 21st century we find it difficult to relate to these highly emotional, self-obsessed, texts, but there’s no denying that they inspired some wonderful music! Va dimanda al mio pensiero’ and Si dia bando, alla speranza are lighter in mood – both attractive, tuneful pieces.

    There is plenty of variety in the church music as well. Cum reverteretur David, which begins the CD, is brilliant and virtuosic, a dramatic account of the rivalry between David and Saul. The duet Exulta, gaude, filia Sion is a joyful celebration of Christmas. In Benedictus Deus et Pater the voices weave rich dissonances to convey the suffering of the text; there’s something of the mood of Allegri’s Miserere here.

    In addition to the vocal pieces the disc includes a set of variations by Frescobaldi and Michelangelo Rossi’s flamboyant and chromatic Toccata Settima for harpsichord, together with Kapspereger’s charming improvisations for chittarone.

    We believe that only one of the Carissimi pieces on this CD, Exulta, gaude, filia Sion, has been recorded before, so the disc will be an important event in the recorded-music world, and one which we hope will revive interest in this unjustly neglected composer.

    ★★★★ An impressive release - Choir & Organ An important and rewarding release - Early Music Review
  • Michael Finnissy was born in Tulse Hill in 1946. He studied at the Royal College of Music with Bernard Stevens and Humphrey Seale, and in Italy with Roman Vlad. Much of his early work was first performed in France and the Netherlands, while he was working as a freelance repetiteur and pianist for dance-classes. He taught at the Royal Academy of Music, at the universities of Sussex and Southampton, and at the Katholiek Universiteit in Leuven. He has also given summer courses at Dartington, and been resident artist at the Victorian College of the Arts in Melbourne (Australia). He has been featured composer at the Huddersfield Festival several times, at the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, and many other places across the world, most recently at SICPP in Boston USA. Here, The Choir of St. John’s College, Cambridge perform Finnissy’s deep, rich and fulfilling music in what has been a four year process. It has taken Conductor and Director Andrew Nethsingha, four years to gradually learn the pieces on this recording. He says it “has been a deeply enriching experience which I want others to share”.
  • Postcards

    £12.00
    The King’s Singers explore the folk songs and melodies of the world in a new programme entitled Postcards. In their own words: “In our travels we have amassed a wonderful collection of folksongs and popular songs from numerous countries, many of which we use as encores when we visit. The influences and sources are extraordinarily far-ranging, and each song has its own local characteristics. To celebrate the diversity of music that we perform and the numerous countries we visit each concert season, we have recorded an album of some of our favourite folksongs from around the world.”  Typically immaculate performances of songs collected by the King's Singers on their global travels, and used as encores. Velvet vocal blending is a given, and mellifluous arrangementsBBC Music Magazine
  • 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
  • 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