• This two disc set of Heinrich von Biber's Rosary or Mystery Sonatas presents the complete set of fifteen sonatas and the concluding passacaglia which appears in the sole surviving Munich manuscript. The sonatas each correspond to the fifteen mysteries or meditations on the life of Christ. The meditations are traditionally grouped into three groups of five; Joyful - his early life, Sorrowful - his passion; Glorious - his ressurection. In writing the sonatas Biber uses scordatura, tuning the strings to a different set of notes for each sonata. This  achieves technical feats impossible with normal tuning and results in different sonorities resulting from the varying amounts of pressure from the strings and achieving the different desired mood for each sonata. For the violinist, this involves a constant contradiction between sight and sound, for what he sees is not be what he hears! Thoughtful, reflective and poetic .... his performances are stylish, idiomatic and vivid - BBC Music Magazine A beautifully judged performance - Gramophone The performances are astounding, the variety of bow strokes, the ornamentation of repeats, the occasional colouring of the violins sound - it's simply wonderful .... This is my recommendation for the month - Early Music Review
  • 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.
  • This is the third disc recorded by The Clerks' Group for their Signum Records trilogy. The series explores repertoire in the medieval period and culminates with a selection of works by Guillaume Dufay, found in one of the great anthologies of 15th century music: the manuscript Bologna, Civico Museo Bibliografico Musicale, MS Q15 (or "Q15" as it is known by its friends). The Q15 manuscript contains examples of almost every conceivable musical genre of the period by a vast array of composers. The Clerks' Group has chosen to perform works by a single composer, but still the variety of forms and styles on offer is bewildering. Guillaume Dufay was a composer who witnessed and contributed to most of the revolutionary changes to occur in music composition in the 15th century. The album includes some of the earlier works so often neglected from Dufay's repertoire, and goes on to explore compositions that demonstrate this revolutionary genius. Some compositional techniques celebrated by The Clerks' Group's performance include the playful exchange of Dufay's song-like melodies between the vocal lines; and the use of mensural canon, where the same melody is sung by all voices but at slightly different speeds. These are just a few examples of the radical nature of Dufay's music as demonstrated on this recording. The Clerks' Group brings immense diversity to the music and its performance. Their refreshing approach displays sincere empathy and passion for this astonishing repertory. Unexpectedly dazzling...The Clerks' Group sing beautifully - The Sunday Times
  • Giuseppe Torelli was one of the most important composers of the Italian Baroque, being among the developers of the Baroque concerto and Concerto Grosso. This disc marks the tercentenary of his death with a selection of Torelli's concertos written for his employer, George Friedrich II, the Margrave of Brandenburg- Ansbach. Charivari Agreable's accomplished performances prove that Torelli's music doesn't deserve to remain neglected - Gramophone
  • Signum 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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  
  • 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.
  • 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
  • Continuing Signum’s new partnership with Paul McCreesh and the Gabrieli Consort following the triumphant success of Berlioz’s Grande Messe des Morts (SIGCD280), their latest release is a recording of the groups renowned a cappella programme of music for mourning and consolation. This is a beautifully poignant programme of British choral music, including works by composers as diverse as Morley and Dove, Sheppard and Walton and featuring Howells’ sublime Requiem. An excellent disc - Gramophone Gorgeously melancholic British funeral music for unaccompanied choir... beautifully sung by Paul McCreesh's Gabrieli Consort - The Times
    This album [serves] a vital reminder that there is more depth of feeling, emotional power and intellectual stimulation to the art of music-making than we can ever hope to truly understand. All we can do is applaudClassic FM Magazine
  • 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
  • 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  
  • 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  
  • 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
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