• The Gabrieli Consort and Players return to the programme that put them on the musical map when it was originally recorded and released in 1990: A Venetian Coronation 1595 is a musical re-creation evoking the grand pageantry of the Coronation Mass for Venetian Doge Marino Grimani. His love of ceremony and state festivals fuelled an extraordinary musical bounty during his reign and formed the background to the musical riches of the period, especially to the works of Giovanni Gabrieli. With cornetts, sackbuts and an all-male consort, Paul McCreesh fully exploits the dazzling polyphony of Andrea and Giovanni Gabrieli’s music and captivates the audience in a theatrical and ceremonious performance. Two decades later, the Gabrieli's New Venetian Coronation takes advantage of huge developments in early instruments, performance techniques and research into the pieces that were on the original (as well as advances in recording techniques). Even if you own the classic Virgin disc, this new version is a must-buy - The Sunday Times Never less than enthralling - The Independent McCreesh's new take on his classic recording is a triumph … Highly recommended to both first- and second-time buyers, and on track to inspire yet another generationBBC Radio 3 Record Review
  • A sumptuous new recording of Gabrieli Consort & Players’ first, award-winning CD, A Venetian Coronation 1595. Nearly 25 years later, Paul McCreesh has reworked his imaginative reconstruction of a glorious late 16th century Coronation Mass at St Mark’s, Venice. This is an exciting new version of one of Gabrieli’s most influential and enduringly popular programmes, available for the very first time on Vinyl, and recently awarded a Gramophone Award for Best Early-Music recording 2013. Double, 180g Vinyl Release, plays at 33rpm Even if you own the classic Virgin disc, this new version is a must-buyThe Sunday Times Never less than enthrallingThe Independent McCreesh's new take on his classic recording is a triumph … Highly recommended to both first- and second-time buyers, and on track to inspire yet another generation - International Record Review
  • An invitation to stroll through the world of one of England’s greatest composers The young, virtuoso A Cappella ensemble VOCES8 return to disc on Signum with a sumptuous collection of early works by Henry Purcell. Joined by the specialist early-music ensemble ‘Les Inventions’, the group explores Purcell’s astoundingly diverse output – there is hardly a genre in which he did not express himself: anthems, odes, funeral music, semi- operas, masques, sonatas, consort-music, songs and catches populate his extraordinarily multifaceted œuvre. It is this astonishing diversity that we wish to celebrate by inviting the listener for a stroll through the world of one of England’s greatest composers.

    If anyone ever doubts Purcell's consummate genius, this CD - beautifully recorded and executed - ought to convince them. A great introduction to Purcell's many guisesChoir and Organ

    You won't hear Purcell sung better - Planet Hugill

    This is a lovely collection, reflective of the composer's eclectic talents, and beautifully performed - Early Music Review

  • Continuing Signum’s new partnership with Paul McCreesh and the Gabrieli Consort following the triumphant success of Berlioz’s Grande Messe des Morts (SIGCD280), their latest release is a recording of the groups renowned a cappella programme of music for mourning and consolation. This is a beautifully poignant programme of British choral music, including works by composers as diverse as Morley and Dove, Sheppard and Walton and featuring Howells’ sublime Requiem. An excellent disc - Gramophone Gorgeously melancholic British funeral music for unaccompanied choir... beautifully sung by Paul McCreesh's Gabrieli Consort - The Times
    This album [serves] a vital reminder that there is more depth of feeling, emotional power and intellectual stimulation to the art of music-making than we can ever hope to truly understand. All we can do is applaudClassic FM 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
  • Signum Records is delighted to announce  the release of Gail Hennessy (baroque oboe) and Nicholas Parle (organ and harpsichord)'s second collaborative disc on Signum Records.

    Pellegrina’s Delight celebrates Vivaldi’s contribution to oboe repertoire in the early eighteenth century. Vivaldi wrote at least 16 concerti for solo oboe, but in this recording we offer an overview of Vivaldi’s prominent use of the solo oboe in his chamber music. The disc also provides a fascinating illustration of Vivaldi’s stylistic development between c.1705 and c.1720. The Quartet Sonata in C major (RV 779) was written during the first decade of Vivaldi’s activity as a composer, when he was serving as a violin teacher at the Ospedale della Piet in Venice. Selected girls were admitted - after audition - to the musical establishment. Vivaldi made a note in this manuscript of the names of the four female musicians who were chosen to perform the sonata. They are Pellegrina (oboe), Prudenza (violin), Lucietta (organ) and Candida (chalumeau). Other works featured on this disc are the Sonata for oboe and continuo in C minor, RV 53, the Sonata in G minor, RV 28 the Trio-sonata in E minor, Op. 1 no. 2, RV 67, the Concerto for flute, violin and bassoon in G minor, RV 106 (presented with the oboe taking the part of first treble instrument, the Sonata in B-flat major, RV 34 and the Sonata a 4 in C major, RV 801.
  • Traditionally known as the composer of the Four Seasons and the Gloria, the work of Cecilia Bartoli has shown that lesser-known works of the red priest from Venice can become hit records too.

    Now Signum Records are delighted to introduce a two disc set on period instruments of the 12 Violin Sonatas, Opus 2. Cordaria features internationally-renowned baroque violinist Walter Reiter, "an artist who transcends authenticity to enter the universal" as one critic wrote, and an eminent continuo team of harpsichord, cello and theorbo.

    Written in 1708, just before the 'L'estro armonico' concertos, these sonatas contain all the passion and the virtuosity, all the lyricism and emotion, which have made the concertos so eternally popular. In the words of the great Vivaldi scholar Michael Talbot, "Op. 2 is fully Vivaldian and certainly deserves to take its place among his other masterworks."

    [Reiter] shows himself to be a stylish, no-nonsense player, who in slower movements mixes a clean often sweetly singing line with tasteful ornamentation which refuses to draw undue attention to itself, and who in faster ones shows real virtuosity and fire - Gramophone  
  • 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
  • Signum Records are pleased to present a debut recording by the Brabant Ensemble, an Oxford-based ensemble with a strong reputation for sympathetic performance of early sacred music, focussing on the repertoire of the 16th century. Like many of even the most prolific and celebrated composers of the sixteenth century, Jacobus Clemens non Papa (‘not the Pope’) has offered the history books little factual material with which to work. In contrast to the paucity of biographical material, however, many sources of Clemens' music survive. Indeed, he is one of the most widely published musicians of the entire century with fifteen Masses, over two hundred motets, many Dutch psalms and French chansons to his name. This disc features the Mass Ecce quam bonum, which is based on Clemen’s own motet setting of Psalm 133, ‘Behold, how good and joyful a thing it is: brethren, to dwell together in unity!’ Apart from that on which the Mass setting is modelled, all of the motets on this disc are in five parts, although their textures are varied. Pascha nostrum sets the text of the Easter Anthem. The Song of Song’s motet Veni electa mea is highly characteristic of mid-sixteenth century spirituality, with the eroticism of the Song of Songs harnessed to provide a metaphor for the Church as bride of Christ. Accesserunt ad Jesum introduces Jesus’s admonition to the Pharisees concerning the estate of marriage. In Job tonso capite, a highly emotive narration of Job accepting his many trials, Clemen’s delivers an immediate approach to word-painting. The final piece on this disc, Carole, Magnus eras is a secular work: a state motet addressed to the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V and his son, Philip II of Spain. Since the text celebrates the achievements of the Emperor but promises even greater things under his son, it was probably composed at the time of Philip’s investiture as Regent of the Low Countries in 1549. The bell-like soprano sound is particularly attractive - Daily Telegraph Irresistible...it will change your life - Early Music Review An outstanding recording - International Record Review
  • VOCES8 and Les Inventions shine a light on a hidden musical treasure in these world-premiere recordings of Charles Avison’s 1757 adaptation of Benedetto Marcello’s Estro-poetico armonico. A fresh and original collection, Marcello’s Psalm settings were composed in Venice and quickly found fame across Europe after their publication between 1724 and 1726. ★★★★★ The results are wholly delightful and absorbing, and the intimate forces of VOCES8 and Les Inventions are completely at home in this repertoire - Choir & Organ ★★★★ With their vivid word-setting and lively declamation, the English texts give a slightly homespun quality to the enterprise. Well sung, there's a striking triple canon with Latin text to finish - The Observer ★★★★ Marcello's masterpiece receives...world premiere recording here by VOCES8, accompanied by the organ, recorder and strings of French early-music ensemble Les Inventions - The Independent Very polished - BBC Radio 3 CD Review A nice variety of vocal colours and a lovely blend make for a convincing representation of Marcello's largely unknown masterpiece Estro poetico-armonico. More please - Early Music Review
  • This two disc set of Heinrich von Biber's Rosary or Mystery Sonatas presents the complete set of fifteen sonatas and the concluding passacaglia which appears in the sole surviving Munich manuscript. The sonatas each correspond to the fifteen mysteries or meditations on the life of Christ. The meditations are traditionally grouped into three groups of five; Joyful - his early life, Sorrowful - his passion; Glorious - his ressurection. In writing the sonatas Biber uses scordatura, tuning the strings to a different set of notes for each sonata. This  achieves technical feats impossible with normal tuning and results in different sonorities resulting from the varying amounts of pressure from the strings and achieving the different desired mood for each sonata. For the violinist, this involves a constant contradiction between sight and sound, for what he sees is not be what he hears! Thoughtful, reflective and poetic .... his performances are stylish, idiomatic and vivid - BBC Music Magazine A beautifully judged performance - Gramophone The performances are astounding, the variety of bow strokes, the ornamentation of repeats, the occasional colouring of the violins sound - it's simply wonderful .... This is my recommendation for the month - Early Music Review
  • Masses by Frye and Plummer from the Brussels 5557 manuscript. The manuscript Brussels 5557 was probably compiled for the marriage of Charles the Bold, Duke of Burgundy, and Margaret of York in July 1468. A number of illuminations, including one at the start of Missa Flos Regalis, develop a theme of chastity and fidelity which accords with the nuptial spirit. However, the music itself belongs to the 1450s or even earlier. These masses are the late-bottled vintage of a style which, in a poem of circa 1440, Martin le Franc refers to as 'la contenance angloise'. They are harmonically rich and fruity, but built to last. The two masses on this recording are complemented by motets by a third English composer, John Bedyngham.
  • This disc represents a new orchestra partnership for Signum Records with The Orchestra of the Age of the Englightenment, one of London and the world’s leading period-instrument ensembles. Led by Robert Howarth, the recording was made at Kings Place following the orchestras successful 2010 tour of the work.

    'Not all orchestras are the same,' runs the message on the cover, and it’s true: … a shimmering, captivating choral sound that seems to float effortlessly through the psalmsThe Independent

    What is impressive is the grammatical sense (underpinned by flexible accentuation) that the choir brings to the projection of the words in Dixit Dominus and at many other places. Also, as we might expect, the instrumentalists are terrificBBC Music Magazine In a word it is magnificent … this is one of the most enjoyable I have heard in recent yearsMusicWeb International
  • “This curious conglomeration of concertos is a celebration of contrasts”. Thus begins Kah-Ming Ng's introduction to this collection of works from the 18th century. Although none of the composers featured may be familiar, each work has been picked for it's fine technical skill and illuminating sound, taking inspiration from the 18th century definition of 'curious'' as being 'rare, excellent and fine'. Includes works by Paradis, Reichenauer, Berlin, Pepusch, Hertel, Croft and Baldassari. For those who know Pachelbel only through the Canon, this disc will be revelatory ... Each piece is beautifully served by the ensembleThe Sunday Times
    The title of the ensemble and their new disc are both pertinent, it’s an agreeable collection full of curiosities … Ng’s notes do a decent job of describing the impact of Vivaldi and his fellow Italians on the music scene in EnglandBBC Radio 3 Record Review The highlight is Pietro Domenico Paradies' aptly-titled A Favourite Concerto, a delightful harpsichord piece that affords the ensemble's director Kah-Ming Ng full rein to display his keyboard prowessThe Independent This is a disc for adventurous music-lovers who like to extend their horizon and are not satisfied with listening to the same masterpieces over and over again. Charivari Agréable deserve our congratulations with this 20th volume in their impressive discography. May many more followMusicWeb International
  • Founded in 1973 by Trevor Pinnock, The English Concert has been a leading light in the performance of Baroque and Classical music for for over 40 years. Under their present Artistic Director Harry Bicket and with distinguished guest artists they continue to perform with the passion, sophistication and technical mastery established at their creation.

    Such is the commitment and passion that their players bring to every performance. Drawn not only from home-grown talent, The English Concert can boast a truly international cast of musicians. Soloists in their own right, and backed-up by scholarly knowledge of style and genre, the close-knit relationship between their musicians makes for a truly special blend of sound. This new recording features the talents of these soloists in performances of Concertii by Telemann, Marcello, Dall’Abaco, Tartini and Porpora.

    Performance: ★★★★ Recording: ★★★★★ Here's that increasing rarity: A Baroque disc with no conceptual axe to grind, no over-arching theme - save for giving the members of The English Concert a concerto moment in the sun - and seemingly out to do little more than delight (which it does so in spades) - BBC Music Magazine [Harry] directs from the harpsichord, bringing both vitality and cohesion to the performancesAndrew Benson-Wilson A nice way to spend 70 minutes of your timeGramophone
  • Avant garde. Eccentric. A maniac. Wild and adventurous. Off the wall. Extraordinary. No marketing hyperbole - this is how the players of the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment describe Carl Philip Emmanuel Bach and his music. One of the many children of JS Bach, CPE Bach always lived in his father’s shadow, and now is an almost unknown figure at least beyond the classical cogniscenti. How can such an unknown be considered a gamechanger? A listen to his music reveals just why – it constantly shifts, wrongfooting the listener when they least expect it with wild changes of direction and colour – it is bright, effervescent, and is a fascinating link between the music of his father (and the Baroque era) and Joseph Haydn (and the Classical era). ★★★★ It is the sense of adventure that comes across vivaciously here in a fusion of stylistic taste, smooth and supple phrasing and an exuberant thrust - The Daily Telegraph Editor's Choice: Self-critical perspective is clearly not a problem for these artists ... the unfurling description of of a lover's kisses permit all kinds of glorious opportunities for the singers' seemingly telepathic understanding for chiaroscuro, impeccable tuning and innate grammatical sense - Gramophone The OAE under Rebecca Miller play with an accuracy and passion that's infectious: this is among the most exciting, adrenalin-filled period instrument recordings you'll hear - The Arts Desk Symphonies that embrace the strangeness and originality of the writing as well as the beauty of some of the middle movements and the feistiness of the finales. Made live, but they’ve emerged in excellent shape - BBC Radio 3 Record Review The orchestra's playing here is bright, effervescent and fascinating – truly positioning C.P.E. Bach as the missing link between his father and the music of Haydn - Classic FM These energetic, committed performances of five symphonies dating from between 1757 - when Haydn was first writing in the genre - and 1780 show the period band has lost none of its verve and enthusiasm for this strange, dramatic music from the dawn of the "classical" era - The Sunday Times
  • In 1612, Prince Henry Frederick, son of James I and heir to the thrones of England and Scotland, died from a suspected bout of typhoid fever. His untimely death inspired a massive outpouring of artistic tributes in both verse and music, reflecting the mood of a nation mourning the loss of this popular future king at just 18 years of age. 'Dialogues of Sorrow' is the second disc from early music consort group Gallicantus, here joined by lutenist Elizabeth Kenny to perform familiar masterpieces and undiscovered treasures of the late English Renaissance, composed at the time of the young prince's death. The release follows the group's critically acclaimed debut recording, 'Hymns, Psalms and Lamentations' - music by Robert White. Editor's Choice: This is a perfect selection … lovingly and movingly performed - Early Music Today This is a well-sung, intelligently produced and exhaustively researched project, which deserves great success - International Record Review One of the the year’s best choral releases - TheArtsDesk.com
  • 2012 marks the 15th anniversary of the first release from the leading independent classical label Signum Records. Beginning life as an early music specialist (with a landmark release of the Complete Works of Thomas Tallis with Chapelle du Roi), Signum has grown since 1997 to a catalogue of over 300 releases across a wide range of genres. In this Early Music collection, you can hear a wide rage of works by Gallicantus, the OAE, Gabrieli Consort, Chapelle du Roi and many more all on one disc - all selected from titles across the Signum catalogue.
    Extracts from 26 discs of composers ranging from Tallis to Telemann provide Signum Classics with a colourful shop window from which we can pick and chooseBBC Music Magazine
  • The treasures of the hispanic baroque revealed through imaginative interpretations of dances, villancicos and tonos humanos from Iberia and Latin America, featuring the Catalan soprano Clara Sanabras and the Chilean tenor Rodrigo del Pozo. Performance ★★★★★ Recording ★★★★★ Way above other [discs] of [its] kind - BBC Music Magazine ★★★★★ Sensuous entertainment from 17th-century Spain fills this exquisite CD... a triumph - The Times Everything Charivari touches turns to gold - The Oxford Times Magnificent - Goldberg There is some very beautiful music here, with performances to match. …this is a fine disc of little-known music - Early Music Review
  • Signum Records is pleased to present the first of a series of three discs by Music Antiqua of London, featuring the music of three Italian cities. In the late 15th century, Italy was divided between the independence of the mighty Venetian Republic and tiny Dukedoms such as Ferrara and Mantua. Music and literature were patronised by the ruling classes as statements of power and local identity. However the most revered European composers were from the north, and their musical style owed little to Italian culture. In northern Italy an educated classicist, Isabella Marchioness of Mantua, devised the frottola where text was set to a simple melody following speech rhythms, and accompanied by 2 or 3 instruments. The frottola is a Cinderella of Renaissance song and has suffered in comparison with the English and Italian Madrigal and the French Chanson in the 2oth century revival of interest in Renaissance music. On Fire and Ice we present frottole taken from a Venetian manuscript, compiled around 1520, to argue the case for a re-evaluation of this repertoire. The collection is notable for the quality of both the poetry and the music. The texts deal frequently with emotional extremes - the “fire and ice” of our title! Modelled on the court bands of the 16th century, Musica Antiqua is the only group in Great Britain to play on specially commissioned matched sets of viols and recorders, copied from 16th century originals. This CD offers a rare opportunity to hear the very different sound these instruments make compared to their "modern" counterparts from the 17th and 18th centuries. These performances.... communicate an infectious sense of enjoyment and enthusiasm (and) make thoroughly satisfying listening - Daily Telegraph The instrumental pieces are beautiful and are played excellently - Seen and Heard There are many imaginative touches, and interpretative subtlety in abundance - Early Music  
  • Music to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the death of Francisco Guerrero. This recording celebrates the music of Francisco Guerrero and presents music form his collection of music written for the office of Vespers. The second half of the disc consists of Guerrero's Requiem mass in its original form. The style of plainchant heard and performed in Spain was rather different from that heard in other European territories. On this recording Chapelle du Roi has followed the instructions for semi-mensural performance given by Guerrero's colleague at Seville, Villafranca.
     
  • Giuseppe Torelli was one of the most important composers of the Italian Baroque, being among the developers of the Baroque concerto and Concerto Grosso. This disc marks the tercentenary of his death with a selection of Torelli's concertos written for his employer, George Friedrich II, the Margrave of Brandenburg- Ansbach. Charivari Agreable's accomplished performances prove that Torelli's music doesn't deserve to remain neglected - Gramophone
  • Signum is delighted to announce the debut disc of the Gramophone Award winning Clerks' Group on Signum Records. This disc is a programme of 14th-century motets and mass movements represents two of the most important sources of French medieval music. The Ivrea Codex now lives in the Chapter library of the cathedral of Ivrea, a small town in the foothills of the Italian Alps, south of the modern ski resort of Aosta (home to an important 15th-century music manuscript). This may seem an unexpected area in which to find major sources of medieval music, but in fact the position of these towns on one of the main routes across the Alps between France and Italy readily explains their importance in the Middle Ages. They lay on roads that linked centres of power, and accordingly they grew in importance themselves, sustaining cathedrals with musical traditions that provided a natural home for collections of sophisticated polyphony. The ensemble's blend is excellent and the recording is to be recommended, even to those among us who would not count themselves medieval enthusiasts - Classic FM Magazine An excellent release and a valuable addition to the discography - Choir & Organ The Clerks' Group is already well-known for championing neglected Renaissance repertoire, and its cunning programming enriches its fresh performances - The Evening Standard
  • This is the third disc recorded by The Clerks' Group for their Signum Records trilogy. The series explores repertoire in the medieval period and culminates with a selection of works by Guillaume Dufay, found in one of the great anthologies of 15th century music: the manuscript Bologna, Civico Museo Bibliografico Musicale, MS Q15 (or "Q15" as it is known by its friends). The Q15 manuscript contains examples of almost every conceivable musical genre of the period by a vast array of composers. The Clerks' Group has chosen to perform works by a single composer, but still the variety of forms and styles on offer is bewildering. Guillaume Dufay was a composer who witnessed and contributed to most of the revolutionary changes to occur in music composition in the 15th century. The album includes some of the earlier works so often neglected from Dufay's repertoire, and goes on to explore compositions that demonstrate this revolutionary genius. Some compositional techniques celebrated by The Clerks' Group's performance include the playful exchange of Dufay's song-like melodies between the vocal lines; and the use of mensural canon, where the same melody is sung by all voices but at slightly different speeds. These are just a few examples of the radical nature of Dufay's music as demonstrated on this recording. The Clerks' Group brings immense diversity to the music and its performance. Their refreshing approach displays sincere empathy and passion for this astonishing repertory. Unexpectedly dazzling...The Clerks' Group sing beautifully - The Sunday Times
  • Bridget Cunningham marks St Patrick’s Day with a new harpsichord CD that gives a glimpse into Handel’s fascinating time in Dublin. In 1741 at the age of 56, following a financially difficult time in London and with fashions turning against Italian opera, Handel went to Dublin for 9 months – a thriving musical city and the 2nd largest in the British Isles after London. The story of this fascinating trip is told in both music and detailed accompanying notes by harpsichordist and musicologist Bridget Cunningham. This disc is part of Cunningham’s ongoing series with the ensemble London Early Opera, which has already seen releases of several volumes of Handel’s music, including Handel in Italy and Handel at Vauxhall.
  • London Early Opera perform a unique programme of Handel’s Italian-inspired works, devised by conductor Bridget Cunningham and featuring a unique family collaboration from from world-renowned soprano sisters Sophie Bevan and Mary Bevan alongside their uncle, bass Benjamin Bevan. Editor's Pick: This is as polished an account as any on account of Sophie Bevan's unerring sense of decorum for what each movement requires Gramophone The quality of the musicianship is highBBC Music Magazine A dazzling disc from the Bevan siblingsThe Observer An enjoyable showcase for Mary, Sophie and Benjamin Bevan - The Sunday Times A pleasant compilation, showcasing the considerable vocal talents of three of the Bevan familyEarly Music Review
  • The Gabrieli’s first Handel recording in over a decade is particularly special, recreating in painstaking detail the very first performance of L’Allegro, il Penseroso ed il Moderato, given in 1740, with additional instrumental repertoire including a Handel organ concerto and two concerti grossi. With a reputation as peerless Handelians, Paul McCreesh and the Gabrieli Consort & players bring meticulous research to every performance and recording project, and are joined on this disc by a stunning selection of soloists.
    ★★★★★ This is quite simply life-enhancing music making, a glorious achievement in every respect - Early Music Today ★★★★★ McCreesh finds all the expressive opportunities in a blissful production, at times breathtakingly beautiful - Choir & Organ ★★★★★ The choral elements are scrupulously handled by the Gabrieli Consort - BBC Music Magazine McCreesh's superb Gabrieli Consort and Players present all this...with flair, a pristine sense of style and infectious energy - The Times Handel's ravishing score [is] realised to perfection by Paul McCreesh and Gabrieli... A glorious recording - The Observer
  • London Early Opera continue their programme themed around a typical evening’s entertainment at the 17th & 18th century Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens, with a second collection of works by George Frideric Handel and contemporary composers of the day (John Stanley, Thomas Gladwin, John Lampe and Johann Adolph Hasse). Featuring performances by soloists Claire Bessent, Mary Bevan, Benjamin Bevan, Eleanor Dennis, Charles MacDougale, Nicky Spence and Greg Tassell, the programme evokes the carnival of music and entertainments that amused visitors in these London gardens for nearly 200 years. The booklet notes feature images and expert commentaries on the Vauxhall Gardens by author David E. Coke and as well as conductor and musicologist Bridget Cunningham. Claire Bessent’s lovely ‘There sweetest flowers of mingled hue’ is amply worth the price of admissionGramophone A must for early music devotees - Northern Echo  
  • Signum Classics is delighted to present Charivari  Agreable's tenth disc: Caprice and Conceit in Seicento Italy. This disc explores the overlap of repertory for the cornett and the violin (occasioned by their frequent interchangeability), and in the marriage of both instruments. Of the two, the cornett’s particular appeal, according to Girolamo Dalla Casa (1584), lies in its tonal similarity to the human voice, an attribute poetically likened by Marin Mersenne (1636) to ‘a brilliant ray of sunshine piercing the shadows’. The juxtaposition of wind and strings is most vividly enhanced by the pairing of a violin with a cornett in small-scale vocal and instrumental works. The most beautiful is arguably the sonata by Cima, one of the earliest trio sonatas. It is hoped that our conceit of re-lighting the cornett’s gleam will find favour among those who delight in the capriciousness of the music of the Seicento. An outstanding disc... this is a recital to shaft any shadow - BBC Music Magazine [A] delectable programme of 17th-century Italian chamber music - Daily Telegraph A ray of sunshine piercing the shadows’ – which is the subtitle for a delightful new disc from Charivari Agréable, who say they’re ‘trying to re-light the cornett’s gleam - BBC Radio 3 Record Review
  • The early music ensemble Gallicantus was born within the ranks of the world-class choir Tenebrae, when five of the choir’s regulars, each with a wealth of experience in the world of consort singing, decided to form a separate group dedicated to renaissance music. Literally meaning Rooster Song or cock crow, Gallicantus is a word from monastic antiquity for the office held just before the dawn. It evokes the renewal of life offered by the coming day. The group is bound by a shared love of communicating text, and is committed to creating performances which draw out unifying themes within apparently diverse repertoire: To this end they are as meticulous about providing context and insight for audiences as they are about crafting interpretations of the music they love. What better respite from the secular pressures of Christmas shopping than these sublime sacred sounds from the late 16th century … beautifully recorded - The Observer Taste the final amens in Exaudiat te, Dominus, where imitative exchanges spiral in ecstasy. Impassioned, exciting musicThe Times What an outstanding disc … never once is there a loss of clarity, a hint of muddinessGramophone
     
  • Over thirty years ago, Fretwork made its first recording – well, technically speaking it was the second album to be recorded, but the first to be released – and it was called ‘In nomine’, which consisted mainly of 16th-century examples of this remarkable instrumental form. While this isn’t an anniversary of that release, Fretwork wanted to look both back to that first release and forward, to bring the genre up to date. There were several examples of the In nomine and related forms that couldn’t be recorded in 1987, and this album seeks to complete the project. The form was created unwittingly by John Taverner (1490-1545). His 6-part mass, Gloria tibi Trinitas, is based on the plainchant of that name. In the Sanctus, at the words Benedictus qui venit in nomine Domini (Blessed is he that comes in the name of the Lord), the six-part texture is pared down to two and three parts; and then, with the words in nomine Domini, Taverner makes, for the only time in the mass, a complete statement of the cantus firmus, accompanied by three voices. This four- parts section – very beautiful as it is – must have struck contemporaries as some kind of perfection, to be used as a template, to be emulated and copied. And then those copies were copied and changed again. Typically, an In nomine would have the alto, or second part, playing this cantus firmus in long slow notes of equal length. The other parts would weave counterpoint around it, sometimes commenting upon it, sometimes ignoring it. Typically, the cantus firmus starts and ends on the note D – but there are many exceptions to all these ‘rules’.
  • The King’s Singers perform the complete Italian madrigal collection Il Trionfo di Dori. Commissioned by Venetian nobleman Leonardo Sanudo in 1592, the collection features 29 works, each written by a different composer and poet, and set for nine voices. Among them are Vecchi, Gabrieli, Marenzio, de Monte, Striggio, Anerio, Gastoldi, Porta and Palestrina.
    ★★★★★ The King's Singers bring this great monument of Italian music history to striding life - Sinfini Music ★★★★★ The King’s Singers are on top form, singing with a sunny freshness appropriate to this happy music, blending beautifully, and moving as one into crescendos and decrescendos, ranging in dynamic from a whispering pianissimo to declamatory episodes of high drama - Early Music Review It is hard to imagine a group with greater potential to do justice to this music of love and mythology than they - Gramophone The King's Singers turn out their characteristic, highly polished finish: diction is razor-sharp, ensemble and intonation are well-nigh flawless - BBC Music Magazine A masterclass in delicate phrasing, elegant lines, exemplary Italian and effortless madrigalian expression with standards of intonation to languish after...delizioso - Choir & Organ If you have to make a single choice The King's Singers will appeal more and it's also beautifully recorded in a venue, which is at least new to this reviewer - Music Web International
  • Leading performers of 17th-century music Fretwork, His Majestys Sagbutts and Cornetts and the Magdalena Consort (directed by Peter Harvey) combine forces under the artistic direction of William Hunt for this rst complete recording of the consort anthems of Orlando Gibbons. Gibbons’ music is one of the artistic glories of the rst Stuart reign. Amongst his sacred compositions, verse anthems such as is is the record of John and Behold, thou hast made my days are long acknowledged masterpieces, amongst the greatest in all English sacred music, but best known to most in their setting for choir and organ. Here they are presented together with an array of other great anthems, some of them scarcely known, in their more intricate and colourful versions for consort accompaniment. Following the instruction of such contemporary writers as Morley and Caccini, these radical new performances place communication of text at the forefront, seeking to rediscover the dramatic essence of the verse anthem that made it arguably the most effective musical creation of the English Reformation. With the incisive declamatory skill of several of the UK’s leading period performers, they reveal the extraordinary rhetorical and poetic power of this music, as it might have been heard in the Chapel Royal and the private domestic chapels of early 17th century England. ★★★★★ Subtle, seductively supple and sinuous singing and playing… Volume 2 from this dream-team will be eagerly awaitedChoir and Organ  ★★★★★ This is the finest recording of this quintessentially English music that we are likely to have…  a real treat, and an impressive master-class in how these texts should be declaimedEarly Music Review Gibbons at his most alluring: a glorious fusion of the intimate and ceremonial in richly-voiced, warmhearted performances - BBC Radio 3 Thomas Morley's lovely phrase evoking music's ability to link earthly listeners to heavenly contemplationThe Times The effect, in the three In nomines recorded here, is of uncanny beauty, familiar notes polished up to a new sheen and lustre - Gramophone
  • Following its nomination for a Gramophone Early Music Award in 2014, Contrapunctus releases an album of motets from the Baldwin Tudor partbooks, on the theme of mortality.  Conducted by Owen Rees, the album includes Sheppard’s epic Media vita and works by Byrd, Parsons, Mundy, Teverner, Gerarde and Tallis, with Contrapunctus’s own reconstructions of the missing tenor parts. ★★★★★ Contrapunctus really knows what to do with these pieces and from the very first item the tuning is superb and the ensemble rock solid. Moreover, Owen Rees’s interpretations are revelatory and even visionary - BBC Music Magazine ★★★★ Whether you listen in Lenten penitence or in general hope of spiritual balm, the message is universal, the singing superb - The Observer Rees’s choir brings an intensity of sound and dramatic dynamics, in music that contemplates the pain of death in ecstatic elation and sublime devotion - The Sunday Times The undeniable jewel in the crown of this selection is Sheppard’s magisterial setting of Media vita … Contrapunctus is the ideal group for this superb repertoire, and I look forward with eager anticipation to future CDs in this series - Early Music Review There’s lovely balance and clarity of sound from as fine a clutch of voices - Choir & Organ
  • J. S. Bach's G Minor sonata BWV 1030b is perhaps better known in its later version for flute and harpsichord where it was re-cast in b minor (BWV 1030). For the earlier g minor version only the harpsichord part remains and it is a matter of conjecture which instrument Bach really intended. Of all his  flute works Bach's b minor sonata is the most ambitious, and played on the oboe the epic nature of the piece is even more evident. Whilst being blessed with many wonderful obligato parts in the cantatas, the g minor sonata is the only large scale solo work for oboe players left by Bach. If BWV 1030 can exist in both oboe and flute versions, why can't other pieces by Bach be similarly versatile? The remainder of the disc includes the often arranged trio sonata for organ, BWV 529 in C major, the flute sonatas BWV 1020, 1031 and 1033 and the harpsichord Prelude and Fugue in c minor BWV 871 from the Well-Tempered Clavier, Book II. The authorship of the flute sonata BWV 1033 is called into question because of the style and quality of the basso continuo part. A theory, proposed by musicologist Robert Marshall, is that Bach wrote the flute part as an unaccompanied piece, and that either a son or a student of J. S. Bach added the accompaniment at a later stage. We therefore present the work here as an unaccompanied sonata, echoing the genre that Bach developed with his unaccompanied violin and 'cello sonatas. Gail Hennessy and Nicholas Parle first played together in London in 1986. They discovered a strong musical rapport and their decision to record these Bach sonatas using oboe and harpsichord stems from their performances over the years of the "big" g minor sonata (BWV 1030b), a challenging work that, like much great music, reveals more and more with each playing. Gail Hennessy plays with a beautifully rounded tone … Nicholas Parle comes into his own with the C minor prelude and fugue - Early Music News A very good player [Gail] is indeed; fine phrasing matched by perfect tuning. Parle is an excellent partner - Early Music Review The technical quality of the performances is excellent; the performers have played together for fifteen years, and thus have good rapport and knowledge of each other's styles - Ludwig Van Web  
  • It is not difficult to discern many of the elements that render Bach’s three sonatas for viola da gamba and harpsichord so remarkable by the standards of their age: a mixing of virtually every conceivable genre, form, style, medium and gesture of the late German Baroque; a forging of connections that had not hitherto been made; a penetrating insight into the multi-dimensional potentialities of each motive, theme and polyphonic complex. Composing for the viol in this way was by, the early eighteenth century, archaic, yet what has made J.S.Bach a summit for many is his apparent ability to transcend historical contingency, somehow to stop the clock of outward progress and to rearrange and recreate the world as he knew it.
  • Peter Seymour and the Yorkshire Baroque Soloists present a new edition of Bach’s first version of the Matthäus-Passion, probably first performed on Good Friday 1727 and one of the greatest works of J.S. Bach’s prodigious output. Recorded at the National Centre for Early Music in York, the Yorkshire Baroque Soloists are joined by the renowned soloists Charles Daniels and Peter Harvey. Significant readings that inspire further thinking about the greatest of all Passions - Choir and Organ Seymour’s pacing often has a comfortable feeling of ‘rightness’ and integrity - Gramophone
  • Signum is delighted to announce the debut disc of Lucy Carolan on Signum Records, the six partitas for harpsichord by J.S.Bach BWV 825-830 (1726 to 1731). These works offer a variety in intellectual depth and technical difficulty - all of which is heard to great effect at the hands of Lucy Carolan on the two instruments used; Von Nagel (Paris) 1988, after Michael Mietke and Michael Johnson 1996, after Goermans-Taskin. ★★★★★ [Carolan] consistently brings out the infinite expressive subtleties of the music - BBC Music Magazine Sets new standards for the new millennium - Early Music Review An excellent recording of Bach's partitas... deserves a place in the pantheon of the best available versions of these works - MusicWeb International  
  • Jean-Philippe Rameau’s modest output of works for keyboard (around 50 in total) are a crowning influence in French 18th-century instrumental music – summed up by one commentator as being “a paradigm of his mastery, for surveying it is to review many facets of his greatness”. Famed for his additional contributions to French opera and for his advances in musical theory of the day, his keyboard works are beguiling in their mix of subtle beauty and virtuosity. The characterful works invoke both pictorial and poetic themes – a style that performer Jill Crossland describes as an “ability to characterise, to construct a miniature world in a few instants.” One's reminded of Bach's Well-Tempered Clavier, but with the formality tempered by a blitheness of spirit and a modern elegance that prefigures the Romantics - The Independent Crossland here claims Rameau for the piano and her programme is elegantly plotted - BBC Music Magazine
  • Few composers of any age have enjoyed the widespread admiration and unanimous praise of successive generations as Josquin Desprez. He is considered the greatest creator and innovator of musical composition during the Renaissance, and for some half a millennium his music has stood the test of time. He is remembered as much for his own works as for his lasting influence on those of his contemporaries and students, demonstrated in many of the compositions in tribute of 'the master' featured in this programme. The programme's centrepiece is Jean Richafort's Requiem mass (missa pro defunctis), a tribute that employs several of Josquin's compositional devices. The King's Singers once again demonstrate their versatility and trademark precision in this new programme devised by leading early-music scholar and conductor David Skinner. The centrepiece is Jean Richaford's Requiem, with flowing counterpoint spiced by rich dissonances. But the most astonishing work is Jacquet de Mantua's Dum vastos, weaving together five Josquin 'hits' - The Times All the Kings' Singers' performances are admirably manicured - The Guardian Those voices emerging from sublime textures and tugging at the heartstrings have their own special quality, and I’ve found myself increasingly admiring the qualities of this performance the more I’ve delved into its expressive beneficence - MusicWeb International
  • Songs and Instrumental Music by Josquin des Pres, his pupils and contemporaries. Critics Choice: A disc I have already enjoyed many times and plan to keep near me - Gramophone I recommend it strongly - Early Music Review Many imaginative touches, and interpretative subtlety in abundance - Early Music
  • Jupiter

    £12.00
    Orchestral transcriptions and chamber music by Jean-Baptiste Forqueray (1699-1782), taken from Pièces de viole (Paris 1747)and inspired in part by the Roman God, Jupiter. It is certainly rewarding to hear Forqueray's deserving music opened up in such lively and infectious performances - Gramophone All the playing is first rate with exemplary intonation, phrasing, ornamentation and all round good taste - Early Music Review This is revelatory recording marrying scholarship with vivd, risk-taking imagination - highly recommended - Early Music News
  • Orlande de Lassus, Europe’s most famous musician during his lifetime, created nothing finer than the Lagrime di San Pietro, a collection of twenty spiritual madrigals and one motet for seven voices; A cycle of intense reflections on the sorrows of St Peter following his denial of Christ, it was assembled shortly before the composer’s death in 1594 and dedicated to Pope Clement VIII. Into this collection Lassus pours every dramatic nuance and piece of harmonic invention he could possibly muster, hurling the listener through the stages of Peter’s rage, remorse and resignation, and concluding with a motet that presents Christ’s response to the world. Gallicantus's robust and committed account will hearten those who fear for the future of this repertory on disc. The countertenors on the top lines are a vigorous alternative to women's voices - Gramophone Magazine Recording of the Month: This recording is something that absolutely must be experienced. You will not regret it at all - MusicWeb International
  • The Armonico Consort return to disc on Signum (following their highly-regarded Naked Byrd CD series) with a new disc celebrating the glorious combination of soprano and trumpet in baroque music – featuring the soaring talents of Elin Manahan Thomas and Crispian Steele-Perkins. Widely-praised for their imaginative and inventive programming, this disc features works by JS Bach (Jauchzet Gott in allen Landen), GP Telemann (Trumpet Concerto in D major), Alessandro Scarlatti (Su le sponde del Tebro) and a special compilation of works by Handel devised by Crispian Steele-Perkins. The tone is immediately set by Crispian Steele-Perkins' trilling trumpet on Bach's Jauchzet Gott in alien Landen, which also features quite thrilling counterpoints between him and soprano Elin Manahan ThomasThe Independent
    The whole thing seems suffused with light reflected from Manahan Thomas’ voice, and Steele-Perkins’ effortlessly projected trumpetBBC Radio 3 Record Review
  • Coupling powerful interpretations with path-breaking scholarship, the choir Contrapunctus presents music by the best-known composers as well as unfamiliar masterpieces. 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. This recording explores the musical ‘cries of the oppressed’ from opposite ends of Europe, which include some of the most powerful works composed in England and Portugal during this period by Byrd, Tallis, Monte and Cardoso. The highlight perhaps is the first recording of a newly reconstructed vocal work by Thomas Tallis, Libera nos. This has long been thought to be an instrumental work, and has been recorded as such, but there’s persuasive historical evidence for us to be confident that this is in fact a choral setting of the antiphon Libera nos, and it is performed here with the relevant text restored to the five vocal parts. A rich seam of material by such as Tallis, Byrd and Cardoso - The Independent Exemplary... Pristine performances by Owen Rees’s Contrapunctus choir - The Times Experience and vocal excellence merge in the singing of Contrapunctus to produce performances extraordinary even by the British vocal group’s own high standards - Sinfini
  • The prodigious Norwegian treble Aksel Rykkvin returns to disc on Signum with a new disc of Baroque works, accompanying the MIN Ensemble under trumpeter Mark Bennett and the ensemble director Lazar Miletic. Featuring both instrumental pieces and excerpts from operas and oratorios by Handel, Rameau, Albinoni and Rittler, this disc further documents Aksel’s unique talent as a performer and interpreter of Baroque music. Rykvin's polished technique and confident musical personality yield a lovely account of Télaire's lament Gramophone Vocal maturity, superb tuning and breath control are quite outstanding - Cathedral Music Magazine A thoroughly enjoyable collection and those that appreciate Baroque music will be thrilled by what is on offer - Cross Rhythms Light Divine further documents Aksel’s unique talent as a performer and interpreter of Baroque music. A mustNorthern Echo
  • Henry VIII is the most instantly recognisable of English kings: the heavy, square face with its fringe of beard, the massive torso, arms akimbo, feet planted firmly on the ground. His character, too, is familiar: ‘Bluff King Hal’, gorging himself at the table, flagrantly promiscuous, cynically manipulating the Church to suit his marital aims, the very archetype of chauvinism. But scholarship reveals a very different Henry. Larger than life, certainly (six feet two inches tall, a colossal height for the time); but, as a young man, clean-shaven and with a halo of red hair, his waist was a mere 35 inches and his chest 42 inches. His table manners were refined to the point of being finicky, and the conduct of his sexual liaisons was (according to the French ambassador) almost excessively discreet. An irresistible figure to the twentieth century early–music revival, Henry is shown by numerous hyperbolic contemporary accounts to have been an expert singer (with a clear tenor voice and able to sing at sight); a player of lute, flute, recorder, cornett and virginals; and a composer of sacred and secular music. Inventories made at the time of his death show him as an avid collector of instruments (including recorders, flutes, cornetts, viols and bagpipes). And two musical sources, one sacred (The Eton Choirbook), the other secular (The Henry VIII Ms), proved rich in music as dramatic, colourful and exotic as the king himself. But there is more to Henry’s music than ‘Pastime with Good Company’ and the splendours of Eton’s polyphony. Henry inherited a modest musical establishment from his father, but bequeathed a large ‘Kynge’s Musicke’ to his heirs. Henry’s queens were no mere observers of the development of music at his court. Catherine of Aragon and Anne Boleyn both owned song–books which show a strong Franco–Flemish presence in Tudor music; Anne of Cleves augmented her small band of minstrels by borrowing players from Prince Edward’s household; improper relationships with musicians were cited in the cases against both executed queens; Jane Seymour’s royal wedding was celebrated with shawms and sackbuts; and Catherine Parr danced to her own consort of viols. In chapel and chamber, whether dancing, worshipping, singing, playing or listening, music was an important counterpoint to the lives (and sometimes deaths) of all of Henry’s six wives. ★★★★  Jennie Cassidy's pure mezzo-soprano voice is a joy... A well thought-out and presented project - Classic FM Magazine Humour, cerebral sophistication and tenderness each find their proper expression in the knitting together of counterpoint and in the delicate rhythmic shading by the players - BBC Music Magazine
  • Swiss guitarist Christoph Denoth explores the enchanting lute music of John Dowland, in collection of his own arrangements made from Dowland’s original handwritten scores. Christoph Denoth writes on the appeal of Dowland: “Dowland, the melancholic poet of the silvery sound of the lute, is free of any instrumental limitation that might have affected his compositions. The melodic and, at the same time, contrapuntal and harmonic approach of his music is both wonderful and unique. Its expression is one of noble sadness, melancholy, and tears, but the beauty is genuine and always caught my attention and appealed to my heart.”
    The melancholy, private lute music by John Dowland gets an infusion of fresh color in this recording by Christoph Denoth. Transposed to the modern guitar, the light-and-shadow contrasts of Dowland’s compositions become starker; the flights of counterpoint more brilliant. But it’s in the quietly meditative galliards that Mr. Denoth’s guitar sounds most lutelikeThe New York Times It’s beautiful playing; there are real beautiful moments in the recordingBBC Radio 3 Record Review The arrangements are superb -  Gramophone