• 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • The King's Singershave combined one of the greatest vocal compositions of all time with modern recording technology and customary style to produce a truly stunning recording of Thomas Tallis' Spem in alium. This is a unique opportunity to hear every part in Spem sung and recorded to perfection, with the six King's Singers dividing the forty parts of Spem in alium between them, in this multi-track recording the disc is in full surround sound, and is a CD/SACD hybrid. This disc can be played on any standard CD or SACD player. In addition, there is a 4.0 surround-sound mix on the SACD layer. A bold and fascinating performance - Classic FM So impressive - Choir & Organ
  • 2012 marks the 15th anniversary of the first release from the leading independent classical label Signum Records. Beginning life as an early music specialist, Signum has grown since 1997 to a catalogue of over 300 releases across a wide range of genres, featuring a number of world-class artists including:
    • A Cappella and Choral Music (The King's Singers, Tenebrae, VOCES8, The Swingle Singers, Rodolfus Choir)
    • Orchestral and Chamber Music (Philharmonia Orchestra, London Sinfonietta, Gabrieli Consort & Players, OAE, LCO, Smith Quartet),
    • Instrumental Soloist Recitals (Jamie Walton, Alessio Bax, Matthew Barley, Llyr Williams, James Rhodes)
    • Art song and Lieder (Iain Burnside, Malcolm Martineau, John Mark Ainsley, Mark Padmore, Ailish Tynan, Felicity Lott, Sarah Connolly, Jonathan Lemalu)
    In our new anniversary series we have drawn on this extensive catalogue to form six collectable releases, assembled around the themes of A Cappella, Early Music, Organ Music, Choral Music, Art Song, and Piano Music. Buy all 6 together for just £20
  • Tomás Luis de Victoria's requiem mass for six voices, written in 1603 and published in 1605, is a masterpiece. It is one of a handful of large-scale works which enjoys mainstream appeal in the 21st century. For many, it represents what Renaissance polyphony is, what it sounds and feels like, and how expressive it can be. The disc also features two well-known works by Victoria's contemporary Alonso Lobo. ★★★★ Victoria’s Requiem Mass is one of the acknowledged masterpieces of Renaissance choral polyphony, and Tenebrae here exquisitely conveys the flowing relationships between its six voices - The Independent ★★★★ Tenebrae’s performance, directed by Nigel Short, is gently sustained, immaculately balanced and wrapped in a luminous acoustic … If you have ever developed a resistance to Renaissance polyphony, this could be the disc to make you think again - The Financial Times This recording does justice both to the genius of Victoria and to the musicality of Tenebrae - BBC Music Magazine  
  • 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

  • 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
  • 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’.
  • 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
  • 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.
  • Gallicantus perform music surrounding the fascinating yet tragic story of Queen Mary Tudor’s ‘phantom pregnancy’. On 30th April 1555 the city of London celebrated the birth of a healthy male heir, but abruptly ceased the next day after the news was revealed to be nothing but rumour. There was to be no heir, with gossip and speculation surrounding the tale of Mary’s pregnancy from that day onwards.
    The music performed here resonates with the circumstances of the mid-1550s, including items composed outside of Mary’s reign; from the royal ceremonies in which Mary participated as queen, and music directly tied to the specific events of 1554-5. This includes a newly-reconstructed Litany which was performed during Mary’s assumed pregnancy. The viewpoint shifts from the streets of London and its suburbs, through the ceremonial grandeur of the royal palaces and their chapels, to the intimacy of the Privy Chamber itself.
  • 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
  • Signum Records is delighted to release Charivari Agréable's ninth CD on the Signum label. Modus Phantasticus presents a unique collection of German viol music, transcribed and arranged in charivari’s individual and historically-informed manner. Germany was never blessed with the same solo viol traditions that flourished in England and France. The viol took a back seat in favour of the keyboard and the violin which provided a vehicle for the elaborate technical display found in "stylus phantasticus" music. However the viol came into to its own within a consort of instruments, gaining a reputation for providing special effects alluding to mortality and the supernatural. The ability of the viol to enrich the texture and enhance sonority of vocal and sacred music meant that it could often dominate the scoring in music of this type. The profile of the viol in Germany was raised considerably with the arrival, during the late 16th century and the first half of the 17th century, of elite violists from England. This disc follows the development of German viol repertoire and its English influences. The pieces are chosen for their beauty, their uniqueness or their suitability for charivari agréable’s speciality – wonderfully inventive arrangements and transcriptions. The playing in all of the Bach transcriptions (there are four on the disc) is stunning - smooth, calm, and sonorous, yet with a fall awareness of individual line and harmonic structure - The Consort A perfectly accomplished recording... one in which the images that fire our imagination are underpinned everywhere by unflagging expertise - Goldberg Magazine Charivari Agréable's playing is of the highest order - Daily Telegraph  
  • Signum Records is delighted to announce the completion of Chapelle du Roi's recordings of the complete works of Thomas Tallis. This major project has taken seven years to complete. It was the brain child of Alistair Dixon and brought to fruition jointly by Chapelle du Roi and the engineering and production company Floating Earth.
  • 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
     
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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  
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • On a new disc to celebrate the 2012 Diamond Jubilee, The King's Singers present a selection of works from the past 500 years written in honour of the great Monarchs of Britain. Starting with works for (and in some cases by) Henry VIII, the programme covers the Elizabethan 'Triumphs of Oriana' by composers such as Gibbons, Mundy and Dowland; a very Victorian selection of dedicatory works by Elgar, Parry and Parratt; choral arrangements from the opera 'Glorianna' by Benjamin Britten; and a new piece by Paul Drayton that comically pens 'A Rough Guide to the Royal Succession'. Drayton is perhaps best known to fans of The King's Singers as the composer of their much-loved encore work Masterpiece. A notably intelligent, enjoyable Jubilee offering - BBC Music Magazine Premier English a cappella group provides its own celebrations in Jubilee Year - New Zealand Herald
  • 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
  • William Byrd, favourite of Queen Elizabeth I, was a confirmed and practising catholic who worshipped in defiance of the Queen. His status and perhaps even his life was preserved thanks partly to the undeniable mastery of his music, and to the fact that he was careful to maintain an output of music appropriate for a Protestant Rite (simple and English) as well as a Catholic one (florid and Latin). Byrd was by no means the only major Catholic composer working in England during these years. Furthermore, there were English composers whose faith drove them to work abroad, as well as foreign composers who offered sympathy and encouragement to English catholics. Included in this latter category was the Flemish composer Phillipe De Monte who entered into a fascinating compositional correspondence with Byrd. Verses of Psalm 136 ‘Super Flumina Babylonis’ (containing many allegorical references to the plight of catholics unable to practice their faith openly) were set to music and exchanged, in what is now seen as an encoded message of mutual support and friendship between brothers in faith. Gallicantus are perfectly placed here to compare the works of William Byrd and Philippe de Monte - The Independent The singing is beyond exemplary: deeply felt, tenderly phrased, perfectly balanced, with the most profound understanding, seemingly bred in the bone - Choir & Organ The intensity of the music is reflected in Gallicantus's beautifully shaped performances - The Sunday Times In Mark Chambers, Gallicantus boast a countertenor 'lead' of near-flawless poise and eloquence - Gramophone
  • 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 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