• In Chains of Gold Vol. 1

    £8.00£14.00
    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
      All downloads include booklets.
  • In Chains of Gold Vol. 2

    £8.00£14.00
    Leading performers of 17th-century music the Magdalena Consort, Fretwork and His Majestys Sagbutts and Cornetts combine forces under the artistic direction of William Hunt for their second release exploring the English Pre-Restoration Verse Anthem – Psalms and Royal Anthems, particularly those of William Byrd. More than any composer before him, William Byrd catered prolifically to a wide variety of musicians. Connoisseurs of Latin motets at home and abroad, troupes of boy actors with their viols and their unbroken voices, solo keyboard players, the choirs of the established English church, and the underground ensembles of Catholic households where mass was celebrated in secret— performers of all these kinds could look to Byrd for quantities, in some cases vast, of music of the highest excellence.   All downloads include booklets.
  • 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’.
  • 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 is delighted to announce the debut disc of Lucy Carolan on Signum Records, the six partitas for harpsichord by J.S.Bach BWV 825-830 (1726 to 1731). These works offer a variety in intellectual depth and technical difficulty - all of which is heard to great effect at the hands of Lucy Carolan on the two instruments used; Von Nagel (Paris) 1988, after Michael Mietke and Michael Johnson 1996, after Goermans-Taskin. ★★★★★ [Carolan] consistently brings out the infinite expressive subtleties of the music - BBC Music Magazine Sets new standards for the new millennium - Early Music Review An excellent recording of Bach's partitas... deserves a place in the pantheon of the best available versions of these works - MusicWeb International  
  • J. S. Bach's G Minor sonata BWV 1030b is perhaps better known in its later version for flute and harpsichord where it was re-cast in b minor (BWV 1030). For the earlier g minor version only the harpsichord part remains and it is a matter of conjecture which instrument Bach really intended. Of all his  flute works Bach's b minor sonata is the most ambitious, and played on the oboe the epic nature of the piece is even more evident. Whilst being blessed with many wonderful obligato parts in the cantatas, the g minor sonata is the only large scale solo work for oboe players left by Bach. If BWV 1030 can exist in both oboe and flute versions, why can't other pieces by Bach be similarly versatile? The remainder of the disc includes the often arranged trio sonata for organ, BWV 529 in C major, the flute sonatas BWV 1020, 1031 and 1033 and the harpsichord Prelude and Fugue in c minor BWV 871 from the Well-Tempered Clavier, Book II. The authorship of the flute sonata BWV 1033 is called into question because of the style and quality of the basso continuo part. A theory, proposed by musicologist Robert Marshall, is that Bach wrote the flute part as an unaccompanied piece, and that either a son or a student of J. S. Bach added the accompaniment at a later stage. We therefore present the work here as an unaccompanied sonata, echoing the genre that Bach developed with his unaccompanied violin and 'cello sonatas. Gail Hennessy and Nicholas Parle first played together in London in 1986. They discovered a strong musical rapport and their decision to record these Bach sonatas using oboe and harpsichord stems from their performances over the years of the "big" g minor sonata (BWV 1030b), a challenging work that, like much great music, reveals more and more with each playing. Gail Hennessy plays with a beautifully rounded tone … Nicholas Parle comes into his own with the C minor prelude and fugue - Early Music News A very good player [Gail] is indeed; fine phrasing matched by perfect tuning. Parle is an excellent partner - Early Music Review The technical quality of the performances is excellent; the performers have played together for fifteen years, and thus have good rapport and knowledge of each other's styles - Ludwig Van Web  
  • It is not difficult to discern many of the elements that render Bach’s three sonatas for viola da gamba and harpsichord so remarkable by the standards of their age: a mixing of virtually every conceivable genre, form, style, medium and gesture of the late German Baroque; a forging of connections that had not hitherto been made; a penetrating insight into the multi-dimensional potentialities of each motive, theme and polyphonic complex. Composing for the viol in this way was by, the early eighteenth century, archaic, yet what has made J.S.Bach a summit for many is his apparent ability to transcend historical contingency, somehow to stop the clock of outward progress and to rearrange and recreate the world as he knew it.
  • Peter Seymour and the Yorkshire Baroque Soloists present a new edition of Bach’s first version of the Matthäus-Passion, probably first performed on Good Friday 1727 and one of the greatest works of J.S. Bach’s prodigious output. Recorded at the National Centre for Early Music in York, the Yorkshire Baroque Soloists are joined by the renowned soloists Charles Daniels and Peter Harvey. Significant readings that inspire further thinking about the greatest of all Passions - Choir and Organ Seymour’s pacing often has a comfortable feeling of ‘rightness’ and integrity - Gramophone
  • 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
  • Jean-Philippe Rameau’s modest output of works for keyboard (around 50 in total) are a crowning influence in French 18th-century instrumental music – summed up by one commentator as being “a paradigm of his mastery, for surveying it is to review many facets of his greatness”. Famed for his additional contributions to French opera and for his advances in musical theory of the day, his keyboard works are beguiling in their mix of subtle beauty and virtuosity. The characterful works invoke both pictorial and poetic themes – a style that performer Jill Crossland describes as an “ability to characterise, to construct a miniature world in a few instants.” One's reminded of Bach's Well-Tempered Clavier, but with the formality tempered by a blitheness of spirit and a modern elegance that prefigures the Romantics - The Independent Crossland here claims Rameau for the piano and her programme is elegantly plotted - BBC Music Magazine
  • Songs and Instrumental Music by Josquin des Pres, his pupils and contemporaries. Critics Choice: A disc I have already enjoyed many times and plan to keep near me - Gramophone I recommend it strongly - Early Music Review Many imaginative touches, and interpretative subtlety in abundance - Early Music
  • This is a musical trip from the mid-sixteenth century to around 1700, involving music in Late Renaissance style, carrying Spanish Catholicism across the Atlantic to supplant an indigenous culture. Once the invasion had taken root with the conquest of Tenochtitlán and its transformation to Mexico City, the country became the target of fervent friars and preachers. Franciscans were first in 1523, then Dominicans, all fired with Christian zeal to convert the native population. From the outset they used music to great effect. The accounts that survive show how successful they were in teaching singing and playing, training choirs to perform liturgical music. By the mid-century it was claimed that standards had reached that of Charles V’s chapel. Churches and cathedrals were established throughout the rapidly expanding New Spain. Conquest and Christianity imposed an almost exact replica of Old Spain. Liturgical books, prints of plainchant and polyphony were shipped in throughout the century. In this recording the singers present music by eight composers. Four of them never went to the New World; their music did. Three of them were born in Spain and were trained in music there; they held appointments in Spain and later emigrated to the new colonial cities. One more became the first composer-choirmaster to be born there of Spanish parents, thus criollo.   All downloads include booklets.
  • Jupiter

    £12.00
    Orchestral transcriptions and chamber music by Jean-Baptiste Forqueray (1699-1782), taken from Pièces de viole (Paris 1747)and inspired in part by the Roman God, Jupiter. It is certainly rewarding to hear Forqueray's deserving music opened up in such lively and infectious performances - Gramophone All the playing is first rate with exemplary intonation, phrasing, ornamentation and all round good taste - Early Music Review This is revelatory recording marrying scholarship with vivd, risk-taking imagination - highly recommended - Early Music News
  • Orlande de Lassus, Europe’s most famous musician during his lifetime, created nothing finer than the Lagrime di San Pietro, a collection of twenty spiritual madrigals and one motet for seven voices; A cycle of intense reflections on the sorrows of St Peter following his denial of Christ, it was assembled shortly before the composer’s death in 1594 and dedicated to Pope Clement VIII. Into this collection Lassus pours every dramatic nuance and piece of harmonic invention he could possibly muster, hurling the listener through the stages of Peter’s rage, remorse and resignation, and concluding with a motet that presents Christ’s response to the world. Gallicantus's robust and committed account will hearten those who fear for the future of this repertory on disc. The countertenors on the top lines are a vigorous alternative to women's voices - Gramophone Magazine Recording of the Month: This recording is something that absolutely must be experienced. You will not regret it at all - MusicWeb International
  • The Armonico Consort return to disc on Signum (following their highly-regarded Naked Byrd CD series) with a new disc celebrating the glorious combination of soprano and trumpet in baroque music – featuring the soaring talents of Elin Manahan Thomas and Crispian Steele-Perkins. Widely-praised for their imaginative and inventive programming, this disc features works by JS Bach (Jauchzet Gott in allen Landen), GP Telemann (Trumpet Concerto in D major), Alessandro Scarlatti (Su le sponde del Tebro) and a special compilation of works by Handel devised by Crispian Steele-Perkins. The tone is immediately set by Crispian Steele-Perkins' trilling trumpet on Bach's Jauchzet Gott in alien Landen, which also features quite thrilling counterpoints between him and soprano Elin Manahan ThomasThe Independent
    The whole thing seems suffused with light reflected from Manahan Thomas’ voice, and Steele-Perkins’ effortlessly projected trumpetBBC Radio 3 Record Review
  • Coupling powerful interpretations with path-breaking scholarship, the choir Contrapunctus presents music by the best-known composers as well as unfamiliar masterpieces. Directed by Owen Rees, a specialist in music of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the group presents imaginative programmes revealing previously undiscovered musical treasures and throwing new light on familiar works. This recording explores the musical ‘cries of the oppressed’ from opposite ends of Europe, which include some of the most powerful works composed in England and Portugal during this period by Byrd, Tallis, Monte and Cardoso. The highlight perhaps is the first recording of a newly reconstructed vocal work by Thomas Tallis, Libera nos. This has long been thought to be an instrumental work, and has been recorded as such, but there’s persuasive historical evidence for us to be confident that this is in fact a choral setting of the antiphon Libera nos, and it is performed here with the relevant text restored to the five vocal parts. A rich seam of material by such as Tallis, Byrd and Cardoso - The Independent Exemplary... Pristine performances by Owen Rees’s Contrapunctus choir - The Times Experience and vocal excellence merge in the singing of Contrapunctus to produce performances extraordinary even by the British vocal group’s own high standards - Sinfini