• Wordplay

    £12.00
    Words were more important than music in the Italian 16th century and song was therefore a higher art form than instrumental music. Composers such as Cipriano da Rore who observed the natural speech rhythms were afforded the highest accolades. Wordplay presents a collection of highly decorated vocal music in purely instrumental performance. The disc explores the role of the soloist in a period of music which has come to be defined by consort playing. In the two centuries that this repertoire covers the borrowing and reworking of the music of earlier composers was regarded as creative, original and even as an act of respect or homage. The disc is structured around instrumental divisions on five famous songs of 16th century and one bass-dance tenor. The divisions are for recorder, bass viol or lute. In total 17 different instruments are used including three types of recorder, three types of lute, seven sizes of viol, and a chamber organ. All are precise copies of early Italian instruments including wide-bore recorders and sound-postless viols. Central to Wordplay are the writings of Slyvestro Ganassi, a recorder and viol player in early 16th century Venice.  In La Fontegara (1535) and Regola Rubertina (1545) Ganassi defines the aim of the instrumentalist as being to imitate a good singer, and describes two distinct ways of doing so. The first is naturalistic - how to replicate the singer's tonal and dynamic variety exactly (on the recorder with varied breath pressure and alternative fingerings, on the viol with bow and finger vibrato etc). The second involves study of the text and using trills (from suave quarter-tones to vivace wide major thirds) and elaborate divisions (with notated syncopations and rubato) to express the sense of particular words and emotions. Fifty years later, Dalla Casa, Bassano and Rognoni have developed a more idiomatic instrumental style and have more polished and formulaic passaggi. All the pieces - though instrumentalists - use exclusively vocal originals, and all would pay more than lip service to Giovanni Bardi's precept: "Words are the soul, music but the body" WordPlay is one of the first recordings made in York's newly opened National Centre for Early Music in the church of St Margaret, Walmgate. Musica Antiqua is one of England's most celebrated early music ensembles and they have triumphed here with their third disc for Signum Records!
  • Early music consort Contrapunctus return to disc on Signum for the second release in their series centred on music of the Baldwin Partbooks (In the Midst of Life, SIGCD408). John Baldwin was a member of the choir of St George’s chapel, Windsor, and his transcriptions during the 1570s and 80s create one of the greatest surviving collections of Marian polyphony, composed during the reigns of Henry VIII and Mary Tudor. This volume explores texts celebrating Mary as mother of God, and on the Virgin and her Child.
    Contrapunctus, led by Owen Rees, couple powerful interpretations with pioneering scholarship. Currently Vocal Consort in Residence at Oxford University, the ensemble’s first two recordings, Libera nos and In the Midst of Life, were both shortlisted for the Gramophone Early Music Award.
  • The emergence of the basso continuo (or “figured bass”) was one of the critical moments in this history of music. Figured bass, upon which a keyboard player or lutenist could improvise harmony, meant that a single musician could provide the necessary harmonies which would previously have needed several players. In the early part of the seventeenth century, large numbers of extremely virtuosic solo motets and sonatas started to appear. The combination of solo voice with one instrument and continuo was quite common, and pieces with violin were the most common of all. This new collection from Cordaria features cantatas for soprano, violin and basso continuo, written by composers including Samuel Capricornus, Dietrich Buxtehude, Antonio Vivaldi , Georg Phillipp Telemann and Georg Frederic Handel.
  • Two Upon a Ground explores the peculiarly English approach to writing instrumental variations known as 'divisions'. The style is principally known for the way it enables a player to demonstrate both a virtuosic command of the instrument and an imaginative understanding of the musical possibilities inherent in a short musical phrase. The repertoire heard here is begins with the undisputed master of the genre, Christopher Simpson, and continues with further virtuosic duets and divisions by Jenkins, Lawes, Tomkins and Purcell. A sunny disposition enhanced by an excellent recorded sound - Gramophone Just buy it! It is all beautifully played - Early Music Review
  • 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  
  • Signum Records are delighted to present the final volume of The Complete Works of Thomas Tallis. The final release explores the most obscure and enigmatic corner of Tallis’s output – his secular music. His profession as church musician and member of the Chapel Royal did not require him to write secular songs or pieces, yet some works may have been written for the Tudor court. Other works are thought to have been written for generations of choir boys, who were assisted with their training by the composer. Plays and performances outside of the choirboy’s obligation were popular, as well as instrumental consort music and keyboard pieces associated with their training. Tallis is likely to have been given the opportunity to write his secular works for these occasions. Tallis’s music was admired and used by others far beyond the Chapel Royal and the court. Some of his intended sacred choral works are included on this recording in other guises, arranged by musicians with performance intentions very different to that of the church. His reputation of greatness amongst his friends and contemporaries is reflected in William Byrd’s elegy Ye sacred muses, where he echoes the sentiments of others with the words "Tallis is dead, and Music dies". This musical tribute has justifiably become one of Byrd’s most popular works. Volume 9 of The Complete Works is a double CD release, marking the end of this popular series. Alistair Dixon has realised the project, and directed his choir Chapelle du Roi throughout the earlier volumes. Musicians featured on this final disc are: Andrew Benson-Williams (organ), Laurence Cummings (virginals), the ensemble Charivari Agréable, Lynda Sayce (lute), and Stephen Taylor (counter tenor). Lynda Sayce contributes an astonishing performance ...  the very simple and pure interpretation by Stephen Taylor is most affecting - Early Music America Laurence Cummings [brings the] music wonderfully to life - BBC Music Magazine This recording is a collection of delights ... including the smooth sound of Stephen Taylor’s countertenor voice. ...  a splendid final offering by Chapelle du Roe - Gramophone With the issue of this double CD, we reach the triumphant conclusion of one of the most fascinating and enjoyable complete works projects of recent times - Early Music Scotland A successful conclusion to the series, containing a good deal of previously unrecorded music - Early Music Today
  • Signum Records are proud to present the eighth and penultimate volume of Chapelle du Roi’s recording of the Complete Works of Thomas Tallis. This volume brings together Tallis’s two masterly settings of the Lamentations of Jeremiah and English adaptations of several of his best-known Latin motets. Thomas Tallis was one of many continental and English composers who composed settings of texts from the Lamentations of Jeremiah, the opening five verses of which formed part of the office of Matins (or Tenebrae) during Holy Week. Tallis’s two settings could have been performed ritually but in all likelihood they are Elizabethan works intended for use at the private devotions of staunch Catholic sympathisers. The statutory introduction of the First Book of Common Prayer on Whitsunday, 9th June 1549 precipitated an urgent need for a repertory of service music in the vernacular. One straightforward solution to the predicament was to adapt existing Latin motets to English texts, a genre of composition that has come to be known as a contrafactum. Contrafacta survive of liturgical music by pre-Reformation English composers as well as by several composers whose working life spanned the period of Reformation. During the Elizabethan and Jacobean periods contrafacta and their models assumed several forms of dual existence, and were performed not only within a liturgical setting but also in a domestic context for recreation or private devotion. Usually there is no textual relationship between the model and the contrafactum. Indeed the finale of this disc, Sing & Glorify heaven’s high majesty, an adaptation of Tallis’s celebrated eight-choir (40-part) motet Spem in alium was adapted to celebrate Prince Henry’s investiture as Prince of Wales in 1610. Chapelle du Roi succeed in conveying a sense of spaciousness and grandeur - The Daily Telegraph
  • Signum Records are delighted to release the seventh volume of their celebrated nine-disc series, presenting the Complete Works of Thomas Tallis (1505 - 1585). Queen Elizabeth’s reign (1558-1603) was a golden age for the arts. England enjoyed a growing cultural exchange with continental Europe. England’s rich, but essentially conservative pre-Reformation heritage was infused with increasing continental influence and innovations. Elizabeth I was the fourth monarch to sit on the throne in Thomas Tallis’s lifetime. From the outset of her reign Elizabeth allowed considerable freedom of practice and belief. She was firmly in favour of a vernacular liturgy for the general population, although in her own chapels she preferred a more lavish ceremony to music. Tallis had witnessed the wholesale destruction of much of England’s church music tradition, however the ever adaptable composer met the challenges of a new liturgy, its new styles and genres, with the imaginative force of a man half his age. The years of Reformation, and Elizabeth’s protestant settlement, freed the Latin-texted tradition of liturgical propriety, allowing composers to reinvigorate the language and harness it to new, expressive and personal ends. This recording presents Tallis’s Elizabethan Latin motets (which number fifteen). The mighty occasional piece, the forty-voice motet Spem in alium, concludes the disc. The Tallis complete works is one of the most exciting projects currently underway on any early music label. Thoroughly recommended - Early Music Scotland Alistair Dixon paces and balances the voices of his vocal group Chapelle du Roi beautifully - The Evening Standard  
  • Chapelle du Roi devote this latest volume to music which was composed by Tallis for use during the reformed services announced in The booke of the common prayer which came into effect on Whitsunday (9th June) 1549. Tallis’s music, together with the associated intonations and Collects (for Easter Day at Mattins and for Christmas Eve), is presented for this recording in the normal liturgical sequence for the day; Mattins, Holy Communion, and Evensong. The recording concludes with Tallis’ nine psalm-tune harmonisations which he contributed to Archbishop Matthew Parker’s Psalter, published in 1567. Chapelle du Roi give an inspired and historically informed performance of the sacred renaissance repertoire for which they are celebrated. Sung with plaintive simplicity, exquisite balance and clear diction, virtues that characterise the whole estimable disc - Classic FM Magazine [The singers] cohere in a warm collective that is wonderful to listen to - International Record Review Chapelle du Roi's skill is manifest ... the whole experience of listening to them was like hearing was like hearing a rather special evensong in a college chapel - Gramophone The singing of the Chapelle is as beautifully flawless as ever ... the crowning glory of the disc is the exquisite account of Tallis nine tunes of Archbishop Parker's Psalter - EMF Scotland  
  • This disc is the fifth in a series of nine that covers Thomas Tallis’s complete surviving output from his five decades of composition. In this disc we continue to explore the choral music of the Divine Office, progressing with the choral hymns and responories not found in volume 4. Music for the Divine Office  is completed with Tallis’s liturgical organ music: five hymns and three antiphons for the Divine Office, an Alleluia for the Lady Mass and an extended setting of the offertory Felix Namque. Tallis’s written music for the liturgy is modest in style, inventive and very appealing. His surviving output of written keyboard music is very small in light of his reputation. It is possible that much of this written music has been lost, and even more likely that the majority of his keyboard performances were improvised, and therefore not strictly notated. This CD offers reconstructions based on what is known of liturgical practice at the time when this music was most probably written (the later years of Henry VIII and those of Queen Mary I). Recording the organ works of Tallis involves a number of difficult decisions, not least the choice of organ, as there are no surviving English organs from the sixteenth century. The organ in the late medieval private chapel of Knole, a vast country house in Kent, is arguably the oldest playable organ in England. It’s joints can sound rather rattley, and it has some trouble breathing at times (although the regular creak of the bellows being pumped by foot is a reassuring link with the pre-electric past). However, the sound of this organ in the Knole chapel acoustic might not be far off from what Tallis knew from inside the Chapel Royal. Once again Chapelle du Roi presents an inspired and historically informed performance of the sacred renaissance repertoire for which they are celebrated. ★★★★★ The singing is shapely and serene with a satisfying edge, and the recorded sound is generous without obscuring detail - Choir & Organ ★★★★ Beautiful contemplative music - The Times ★★★★ [A] magnificent recording - Goldberg Magazine
  • This disc is the fourth in a series of nine covering the complete works of Thomas Tallis (c.1505-1585). Not for nothing is Tallis known as the "father of church music" – with his colleagues at the Chapel Royal he created most of the church music genres that we take for granted today. Volumes 4 and 5 both focus on music written for the office hours – the daily services found mainly in the monasteries that eventually suffered at the hands of Henry VIII’s dissolution. Here we have a selection of hymns and Responds from the Henrician and Marian periods, each matched with their accompanying plainchant taken from contemporary sources.
  • This disc is the second in a series of nine covering the complete works of Thomas Tallis (c.1505-1585). As the 1540s developed, the Reformation began to take hold and the style of music required from composers such as Tallis altered radically. The large-scale melismatic votive antiphons (for example those on disc 1) were no longer required; the emphasis moved away from Marian devotion to a more syllabic and compact style and, eventually, to settings of English rather than Latin texts. Disc two traces this development from the Jesus antiphon Sancte Deus, to the mass for four voices, the three early English anthems including If ye love me, the Te Deum for meanes and the Elizabethan Magnificat and Nunc dimittis. A stimulating second volume in this distinguished series - Penguin Guide to Compact Discs A beautiful homogeneous quality and are pure and uncomplicated - Footloose Magazine
  • This disc is the first in a series of nine covering the complete works of Thomas Tallis (c.1505-1585). Not for nothing is Tallis known as the "father of church music" – with his colleagues at the Chapel Royal he created most of the church music genres that we take for granted today. Volume one in the series of nine contains much of the music that Tallis wrote during the reign of Henry VIII. The two early votive antiphons Ave Dei and Ave Rosa open the disc and it concludes with one of Tallis's masterpieces Salve Intemerata. Unusually for an English composer of the time, Tallis wrote a "parody" mass based on material from Salve Intemerata. Also included are two beautiful miniatures not previously recorded – Alleluia: Ora pro nobis and Euge celi porta. This was the first disc to be recorded by Chapelle du Roi and was Signum Records' debut disc in February 1997. The singing is of great distinction - Goldberg Magazine The quality of this disc will surely put these talented performers on the musical map - BBC Music Magazine
  • 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.
  • Celebrating Elizabethan and Jacobean Theatre brought to life by the actors and musicians of Shakespeare's Globe Theatre London, with words and music recreating the unique Globe experience. Actors Liam Brennan, Tom Burke, John McEnery and Mark Rylance are featured in their performances as Romeo, Orsino, John of Gaunt and King Richard II.

    Also featuring material from Twelfth Night, Measure for Measure and Much Ado About Nothing with introductions in the original pronounciation of Shakespeare's time, all music played on period instruments plus the special treat of excerpts of live performances on the Globe stage.

    There could hardly be a better aural souvenir of a visit to the Globe, but the set also stands up on its own as a superbly-performed compilation of Elizabethan and Jacobean musicBBC Music Magazine
  • 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
  • The King's Singers' collaboration with Signum Records continues with this outstanding collection of madrigals from 23 composers including Thomas Morley, John Bennet, Michael Cavendish and Thomas Weelkes. A collection of 25 madrigals from 23 different composers - from the famous to the obscure - make up this Elizabethan curiosity, published in 1601 by Thomas Morley. A musical dedication to Queen Elizabeth I, The Triumphs of Oriana displays the talents of English songwriters, long overshadowed by their European counterparts, conjuring up an image of an idealised and mythical England of old. ★★★★ The King's Singers deliver these songs with insistent voices, the imitative pairs beautifully balanced across the stereo, the intonation faultless and the diction unmistakable - The Times This disc is a triumph of majestic vocal ensemble - Classic FM Magazine Long live the King's Singers - Goldberg Magazine  
  • Musuica Antiqua's debut disc for Signum Records. The Triumphs of Maximilian contains songs and instrumental music associated with the German court of Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian the first. The early 16th  century produced European music of great power and innovation. Tthe best players and composers were increasingly mobile, and were aggressively 'head-hunted' from court to court. Nowhere was the resulting mix of styles and influences more clearly illustrated than at the German court of Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian the First. Old and new, polyphony and homophony, national and international, all blend together to produce a repertoire of great variety and richness. In music, as in the visual arts, Maximilian was a patron of unusual discrimination: the volumes of woodcuts by Dürer and Burgmair, commissioned to ensure that the Emperor's fame outlived his reign, pay tribute to his artistic judgement, whilst the music of Isaac and Senfl, both in his employ, is in itself a great monument to him. No praise is too high; they do everything with a pleasingly light touch and always with a real sensitivity to the music - Gramophone I would recommend this disc strongly - Early Music Review Virtuoso performances tempered by the sensitive vocal interpretations of John Potter - Early Music Magazine
  • Louis (c.1626-1661), François le Grand (1668-1733) and Armand-Louis (1727-1789) were the three most celebrated members of the distinguished Couperin family of musicians who flourished from the late 16th century until the middle of the 19th, holding a position of esteem parallel to that of the Bachs in Germany. The Sultan and the Phoenix presents both masterpieces and rare gems from the Couperins and their contemporaries, all delivered with a rare insight by the ensemble charivari agréable. The programme presents an overview of the ensemble use of the viol in its various manifestations and stages of evolution in France. The Couperin dynasty offers a convenient chronological framework within which the viol could be heard in various guises: from a consort setting to a ‘pièces de clavecin en concerts’ configuration; from a six-string bass viol to a five-string hybrid ‘quinton’. Underpinning this programme is the historical practice of adaptation, transcription and arrangement with which French baroque music is replete. Historical tradition is followed by the arrangement of some pieces by the players. Some involved direct transcription, such as the L. Couperin Pavan for a viol consort or the F. Couperin harpsichord piece for theorbo (in the style of de Visée, see above). Other pieces are left untouched, such as L. Couperin’s Fantaisies and Corrette’s Phénix, as well as the large-scale chamber works of Dornel and Couperin. Charivari Agréable’s reputation as one of the most original ensembles in the period-instrument scene was recently articulated by the BBC Music Magazine, which noted that the ensemble “has carved something of a niche for itself in imaginative and well thought-out programming”, reasoning that its work is the fruit of both scholarly research and charismatic musicianship, a combination which puts it at the forefront of period-instrument ensembles.
  • Until quite recently it was thought that the viola da gamba died with the death of one its most loved exponents, Charles Frederick Abel, in 1787; and that it was literally buried with the composer in St Pancras Old Church, near Kings Cross Station in north London. Then it was believed to have been forgotten, until Arnold Dolmetsch pioneered a revival at the end of the nineteenth century. Not so. In fact, now we know that there has always been someone playing the viol, all through the nineteenth century, and that what Dolmetsch revived was the idea of the viol consort and an interest in the music written for the instrument. So the viol family, developed from a common ancestor of the guitar, the vihuela around the end of the fifteenth century in Spain, has a continuous history from then until the present day, in a similar way to the violin family, which was born around the same time. The programme here seeks to reflect that extended history and bring music written specifically for viols, from whatever century, alongside that which has been arranged for them.
  • "Her Majesty lay upon her back, with one hand in the bed and the other without. The bishop kneeled down by her, and examined her first of her faith: and she so punctually answered all his several questions by lifting up her eyes and holding up her hand, as it was a comfort to all beholders. Then the good man told her plainly, what she was and what she was to come to, and though she had been long a great Queen here upon earth, yet shortly she was to yield an account of her stewardship to the King of Kings. Between one and two of the clock on Thursday morning, he brought me word the Queen was dead." Thus wrote the queen’s cousin Sir Robert Carey, recording in his memoirs the events of March 23rd-24th 1603, and the end of an era in England’s history. Earlier, as Elizabeth I lay dying she called for her musicians to play around her bed so that “she may die gaily as she had lived, and that the horrors of death might be lessened; she heard the music tranquilly until her last breath”. As the 400th anniversary of her death approaches, The Queen’s Goodnight commemorates the music of the court of Queen Elizabeth I. The queen’s professional musical establishment was in some ways more modest than that of her father, Henry VIII, but she brought together the finest talent in the land and created collections of consort, lute and keyboard music that is still renowned today. Charivari Agréable demonstrate representative facets of this wonderful 16th century repertory. The pieces are selected with a passionate attention to detail and Charivari Agréable have included music that depicts the life of the queen: music from the court, an exhilarating depiction of a hunt, celebrations from the queen’s coronation and the moving laments on her death. Fertile imagination, excellent musicianship and persuasive playing make it a real delight - Early Music News
  • Charivari Agréable present an imaginative new disc themed around their home town of Oxford. They are joined by a formidable line-up of singers including Rodrigo del Pozo, Simon Beston and Nicholas Perfect, to present a programme of 17th Century domestic devotional anthems and psalms by some of the greatest British composers of all time. The singers are ideal for the repertoire, unaffected voices with the mutual rapport of lay-clerks - as two of them have been - BBC Music Magazine As ever, the instrumental playing from Charivari Agréable is beautifully crafted, neither excessively polished nor overtly boisterous - International Record Review Offered the experience of a programme of unfamiliar music where the sense is of a lively combination of musicological exploration and historically-informed creativity - Goldberg Magazine
  • Julie Andrews frolicked across the Alps singing it in The Sound of Music and generations of children have learnt their musical scales by remembering it. Now Do-Re-Mi has been traced back more than 2000 years to one of the greatest poets of ancient Rome. According to a book to be published next month, the origins of the song lie far from the female deer and ray of golden sun in the Rodgers and Hammerstein version sung by Andrews to the von Trapp children. Instead it was penned as a mnemonic by a medieval Italian monk who drew on a melody which accompanied Horace's Ode to Phyllis, written in the 1st century BC. The research has been carried out by Stuart Lyons, who won a classics scholarship to King's College, Cambridge. "The monk who invented Do-Re-Mi told a lie about it because he didn't want to go to the stake (for heresy)," Lyons said. "The melody truly belonged to the Ode," said Lyons. "It is the most exciting thing that has ever happened to me in academic discovery. It is incredible to solve a mystery that is 1,000 years old. " A fascinating and highly recommended CD of the Ode’s first performance in modern times, performed by King’s Singer Christopher Gabbitas and lutenist David Miller - Musical Opinion Pleasantly performed by Christopher Gabbitas- of the King's Singers - and the excellent lutenist David Miller, the results are pleasant and intriguing listening - MusicWeb International  
  • Signum Records presents the second volume of Lucy Carolan's recordings of Bach's keyboard music consisting of works from Volumes two, three and four of his "Clavierübung". Volume two contains the popular Italian Concerto and French Overture and concentrates on the number "two" - two pieces, two keys, two modes, two nations (Italy and France) and a two-manual harpsichord. The Italian Concerto is unique: a wholly original solo keyboard work written as if "transcribed" from a string original to which Bach adds strikingly new ideas expressly suited for harpsichord. Bach had acquired his knowledge of Italian repertoire early on by transcribing Vivaldi violin concertos for solo harpsichord around 1712-13. The contrasting French Overture contains lighter dances from the court of Louis XIV such as the gavotte, the passepied and bourrée - all are dance forms which had been familiar to Bach from his childhood. The disc also includes duets from volume three and the Chromatic Fantasia and Fugue which, although unpublished during Bach's lifetime, became an inspiration to subsequent generations of composers. Dynamic playing by harpsichordist Lucy Carolan imbues these works with great spirit and verve - Shropshire Star Solid musicianship and first class technique - ClassicsToday.com  
  • Music from the Fitzwilliam Virginal Book, transcribed for mixed consort.
    Disc of the Month: An inspired concept... outstanding in every respect - BBC Music Magazine
       
  • Described by the London music publisher as ‘Very Improvei ng and Delightful to all lovers of that instrument’ The First Part of the Division Flute was originally issued for the Baroque treble recorder in 1705.

    Murphy’s love of the recorder inspired her to record some of the best known recorder music, as well as some of the most neglected, from a collection that has never been fully recorded before. A fantastic disc of musicians at the forefront of early music today.

  • Mille Fleurs’ debut recording for Signum Records is devoted to one of the treasured manuscripts of early music, the Codex Las Huelgas. This impressively large manuscript contains 170 parchment folios of works from the 13th and early 14th centuries. It was discovered by two monks early in the last century in the royal convent of Las Huelgas outside Burgos, Spain. It is unusual in several ways, encompassing a wide range of musical forms and styles, and being highly organised according to genre, liturgical function and number of voices. The codex reflects the devotional practices of a medieval Cistercian monastery, but it wasn't designed as a luxury object, rather, a pragmatic tool to be used as a source of reference or perhaps even for actual performance. This is an especially intriguing manuscript for music historians, performers and listeners alike. The pieces contained in the Las Huelgas manuscript reflect a wide range of Latin-texted music between 1200 and the first half of the 14th century. French influence is strong, illustrating the repertory as both international and local, imported, and adapted in a continual process of absorption and reinvention. Mille Fleurs bring a wealth of experience and research to these performances. Some pieces are performed as written; in others the notation provides a starting-point for musical elaboration. These charismatic singers do not believe female early music vocalists should sound like modern choirboys, but instead celebrate their different vocal timbres with each voice’s natural personality shining through. Just as the manuscript is pragmatic and adaptable as regards the notation of its musical repertory, so the performance approaches adopted and realised on this recording offer variety and flexibility, always respecting the nature of the piece. One thing is clear: throughout the Middle Ages the walls of the monastery of Las Huelgas resounded to the most highly refined and eloquently beautiful musical settings then in circulation in northern Spain. The performances are the epitome of sophisticated smoothness.... The recording impresses by its freshness and vigour, and by the excitement the singers clearly find in this fascinating repertoire - Gramophone The performances have a freedom which is refreshing as well as plausible. Highly recommended - Early Music Review Mille Fleurs interpret this varied collection with verve and vigour - Lyric FM
  • Telemann

    £12.00
    Virtuosic chamber music by Telemann, the superstar composer of his time, and his godsons, Kress and CPE Bach, for the beguilingly sensuous combination of baroque flute, two viols and keyboard. This recording features a selection of Sonatas, Concerti and Trio works, prepared and performed by Charivari Agréable using period instrumentation. Performance ★★★★ Recording ★★★★★ There is a pleasing energy in this playing which is also supple, fluent and idiomatic - BBC Music Magazine ★★★★ The sensuality of sound and luscious phrasing pull the listener into the recording - Goldberg Magazine As ever, Charivari Agréable demonstrate their determined ingenuity in finding and adapting music based around their core line-up of viol and continuo - Gramophone An excellent collection which offers both delightful listening and thought-provoking programming - MusicWeb International
  • Signum Records presents a world first – a CD single, from a new edition of the magnificent 40-part Thomas Tallis motet Spem in Alium and the English version Sing and Glorify. Spem in alium is surely not just the greatest of all Thomas Tallis’ musical achievements, but one of the great musical compositions of all time. Writing for 40 independent voices, Thomas Tallis created a noble and imaginative masterpiece. The earliest surviving manuscript of this great work, the Egerton manuscript, is laid out with an English rendition, Sing and glorify heaven’s high majesty. The English words are not a translation of the Latin, but a new poem written as a syllable-for-syllable replacement. A fine recording as well, beautifully captured in the wide open spaces of All Hallows Church - BBC Radio 3 Record Review Their interpretation at times almost touches the visionary - Gramophone Not only does Alistair Dixon shape the music beautifully, but he has a first-rate team of singers who respond to the music’s every nuance - Goldberg
  • 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
  • Signum Records is delighted to announce that the choir of Magdalen College Oxford will release their first disc with Signum in early 2003. Entitled The Songs of Angels the disc will consist of repertoire written by the distinguished 15th and 16th century Magdalen Informator Choristarum.  These young choral scholars are an impressive group of musicians - BBC Radio 3 Record Review A superb release, as much for its historical interest as for the unarguable excellence of the music-making - Gramophone
  • 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
  • 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
  • Sacred songs from Protestant Germany of the late 16th and early 17thcentury In Lutheran music the viol became particularly associated with the affect oflamento. This finds its roots in the string accompaniments to Italian operatic laments—a genre which had become much in vogue after Monteverdi’s second opera Arianna. On this disc of music from Protestant Germany Charivari Agréable is joined by the distinguished tenor, Rodrigo del Pozo. A fascinating, emotionally satisfying and rewarding release - BBC Music Magazine Decidedly out of the ordinary - Gramophone
  • 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
  • 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.
  • Purcell’s ever-green chamber opera Dido & Aeneas, its story drawn from Virgil’s epic, the Aeneid, is performed by the Armonico Consort with an astounding selection of soloists. Armonico Consort is one of the largest and most innovative organisations of its kind in the UK, existing to inspire audiences with its unique programmes. ★★★★ Lithe, colourful, tastefully phrased and dynamically astute playing...[the cast] sing compellingly and inhabit their roles with the same sensitivity that distinguishes the whole performanceThe Daily Telegraph
    A clean, uncluttered account featuring crystalline voices, good diction, safe tempos and well-defined phrasing...vocal ensembles are luminous and the instrumental playing is bright and streamlined. Best of all is Rachael Lloyd's dignified Dido, rich-voiced, poetic and flawlessly deliveredThe Guardian The Armonico Consort and its musical director, Christopher Monks, capture this abundance of inspiration in a performance full of life and variety...Rachael Lloyd's dignified Dido and Elin Manahan Thomas's bright Belinda are well contrastedFinancial Times This small-scale version of Purcell's evergreen masterpiece has much to commend itEarly Music Today
  • This recording is compiled from Armonico Consort’s ‘Naked Byrd’ programme, featuring music by Tavener, Purcell, Barber and Byrd, composers who wore their hearts on their sleeves, and whose art saw their emotions laid bare, in an atmospheric concert where magical musical moments are intertwined with sublime passages of plainchant and violin improvisation. ‘Naked Byrd Two’ follows on from their December 2009 release (‘Naked Byrd’). Armonico Consort is, at its heart, a highly talented vocal ensemble that stages a wide variety of concerts. The quality of the performances they stage is reflected in the praise they have recently received: An achingly beautiful selection - Classic FM Superb!The Times A beautiful soundBBC Radio 3 Record Review [A] splendid second volume in the Armonico Consort’s Naked Byrd seriesThe Independent
    [A] disc of unending delight - Gramophone
  • The debut disc of world-renowned early-music ensemble Charivari Agréable on Signum Records. Music for Philip of Spain and His Four Wives is complementary to SIGCD004 and presents secular music associated with Philip II from the four European countries of his wives - Portugal, England, Austria and France. Bravo!Gramophone Highly recommendedEarly Music Review Exquisite performances ... a highly intelligent programmeEarly Music Today
  • Phillip II of Spain died at first light on Sunday 13th September, 1598. Released in his 400th anniversary year this disc commemorates the death of this most catholic king with music associated with him during his lifetime, and with the sumptuous six part Requiem mass of Jean Richafort that may well have been used at his obsequiries The programme begins with a motet written by Gombert for the birth of Philip; other motets include one of Infantas' finest works Domine Ostende, and within the context of the mass is included the celebrated Versa est in luctum by Lobo.
  • The paintings of Thomas Gainsborough (1727-88) constitute one of the most poignant and evocative icons of Georgian England; he painted supremely accomplished portraits of a wide social spectrum, and landscapes which capture the verdancy of England prior to the Stygian advance of the Industrial Revolution. Gainsborough’s own creativity sought expression in music as much as in painting, which was unusual in an age when musical ability was mainly considered the preserve of the ladies. For this musical tribute to Gainsborough, we have gathered together pieces by several of his friends; Abel, J.C. Bach, Giardini, Linley & Straube. Played with impeccable good taste - Gramophone
  • Signum Records is delighted to present Chapelle du Roi’s eleventh release with the label. This recording offers a selection of music spanning the life and reign of Charles V, undoubtedly the most powerful man in 16th-century Europe, from his early teenage years to his death in 1558. Charles was a devout Catholic, and maintained a chapel employing some of the most notable composers of the period, including Nicolas Gombert and Thomas Crecquillon, who Charles referred to as ‘the truest Opheus of the age’. Closely identified with the Order of the Golden Fleece, which gave rise to the L’homme armé tradition, Charles V was said to have a musical ear. A great deal of music survives that is associated directly with him and his patronage – a selection of which is presented on this recording. The music composed for rulers frequently mixed the heavenly with the secular, and a great many pieces were written to celebrate political conquests and occasions within the court. For example, Cristóbal Morales possibly wrote his Missa L'homme armé as an offering for Charles’s wedding to Isabella of Portugal. Near the end of Charles’s reign, the young composer Orlandus Lassus was just starting his career, and seeking preferment. He offered his secular motet, Heroum Soboles to Charles in the hope that he would join the prestigious Capilla Flamenca. He was unsuccessful, however Charles’s minister, Bishop Granvelle of Arras helped Lassus to secure his position at the court of Duke Albrecht of Bavaria – a musical establishment that was no less magnificent. The last years of Charles life were troubled by his failure to convert the Protestants back into the Roman Catholic Church, and to lead a universal Catholic empire. His death resounded throughout the Empire, and Don Fernando de las Infantas marked his passing with a setting of Parce Mihi Domine, the best-known of the texts from Matins pro defunctis.
  • 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  
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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 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