• Tenebrae join the Aurora Orchestra with mezzo soprano Dame Sarah Connolly and narrator Simon Callow for ‘A Walk with Ivor Gurney’, an album of choral music celebrating the works of Ivor Gurney whose promising career as a composer was interrupted by World War I. Alongside four pieces of Gurney’s own music are works by his contemporaries, Ralph Vaughan Williams and Herbert Howells. The recording features a new piece by Judith Bingham commissioned by Tenebrae in 2013 for the choir with Dame Sarah Connolly.

    ★★★★★ The Mail Online

    Performance ★★★★ Recording ★★★★ Beautifully sung by Nigel Short's Tenebrae - BBC Music Magazine Orchestra and wordless choir combining to ravishing effect - The Arts Desk

    Nigel Short’s peerless Tenebrae singers, backed by the Aurora Orchestra, offer nothing but sorrowful beauty and multiple reasons to give thanks - The Times

    A nourishing, thoughtfully compiled release  - Gramophone The orchestra marvellously supportive and Tenebrae exemplary - Classical Source [Dame Sarah Connolly] brings a great warmth here, vocally but also in terms of her response to the poetryBBC Radio 3 Record Review Throughout this disc the singing of Tenebrae confirms their stature as one of the UK’s premier chamber choirs […] Tenebrae have done the memory of Ivor Gurney proud - MusicWeb International
  • The Choir of St John’s College, Cambridge’s advent service is a staple of the British choral world, and is broadcast on BBC Radio 3 almost every year. The service features much-loved favourites from the festive season alongside a variety of new works commissioned especially for the event. This disc of live recordings features performances by the choir from their four most recent services from 2014-17. ★★★★ This superbly programmed collection will take your Advent listening in unexpected, but entirely apposite, directions - BBC Music Magazine The choir has retained its renowned clarity, flamboyance and readiness to take risks - Gramophone The choir has retained its renowned clarity, flamboyance and readiness to take risks - The Guardian This disc gives a very good flavour of the excellent Advent music one can hear at St John’s - MusicWeb International
  • One of the UK’s most lauded composers, Roxanna Panufnik celebrates her 50th birthday with a new release of her previously unrecorded choral music, performed by leading British choir Ex Cathedra under Jeffrey Skidmore. Known for her interest in world music, the programme includes performances from Indian arts organisation Milapfest on Unending Love, as well as the a recording of Child of Heaven: Dawn Chorus III – a new commission from Ex Cathedra that sets a Hymn to Dawn from the Rig Veda.

    Roxanna has written a wide range of pieces including opera, ballet, music theatre, choral works, chamber compositions and music for film and television which are regularly performed all over the world. This disc follows the 2017 release of 99 Words (SIGCD519), combining works by Panufnik and Sir John Tavener.

    ★★★★ Beguiling and soothing, it’s Panufnik at her most individual - Classical Source ★★★★ Very exciting - All Music A pleasurable disc - Gramophone

    The work is elegantly-shaped and full of warmth, rather like this disc as a whole - BBC Music Magazine

    This album is a fine and nicely varied birthday gift from Ex Cathedra to Roxanna Panufnik - Music Web International

  • Founded in 1973 by Trevor Pinnock, The English Concert has been a leading light in the performance of Baroque and Classical music for for over 40 years. Under their present Artistic Director Harry Bicket and with distinguished guest artists they continue to perform with the passion, sophistication and technical mastery established at their creation.

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

    Performance: ★★★★ Recording: ★★★★★ Here's that increasing rarity: A Baroque disc with no conceptual axe to grind, no over-arching theme - save for giving the members of The English Concert a concerto moment in the sun - and seemingly out to do little more than delight (which it does so in spades) - BBC Music Magazine [Harry] directs from the harpsichord, bringing both vitality and cohesion to the performancesAndrew Benson-Wilson A nice way to spend 70 minutes of your timeGramophone
  • CLICK HERE FOR PURCHASE ON PRESTO CLASSICAL

    The Great War was the first major conflict to generate an outpouring of creative work from those who either fought on the battlefields, or were somehow deeply affected by it, including writers, painters and musicians. Almost unwittingly, they became commentators for their age, and changed society’s conception of what war meant. Charles Villiers Stanford alone taught numerous composers affected by the war, including Charles Wood, George Dyson, Gustav Holst and Ivor Gurney, all of whom are featured on this recording. It also includes contemporaneous works by Rachmaninov, Ravel and Reger – composers from other combatant nations – and the rarely heard Short Requiem by Henry Walford Davies, written in 1915 “In sacred memory of all those who have fallen in the war”.

    Pegasus is one of London’s most accomplished chamber choirs, critically acclaimed and award-winning for its outstanding performances of music from the Renaissance to the present day. Part of London’s musical life for 20 years, the choir is known for its imaginative and adventurous programming.

    Beautifully blended tone - Gramophone All superbly sung, and sweetly recorded - The Arts Desk virtuoso performance - Planet Hugill
  • A special release showcasing James Rhodes’s most popular performances on 180g vinyl for the very first time.

    There's certainly nothing crude about the recorded sound - The Times

  • Continuing their complete Mozart opera recording cycle, The Mozartists’ latest release shines a light on two early opera works by Mozart. Grabmusik was reported to be the product of a test set by the prince of Salzburg, who: “... not crediting that such masterly compositions were really those of a child, shut him up for a week, during which he was not permitted to see any one, and was left only with music paper, and the words of an oratorio ... During this short time he composed a very capital oratorio, which was most highly approved of upon being performed.” Performed for Holy Week the title can be translated as ‘Cantata on Christ’s Grave’ (literally ‘Grave Music’), and the anonymous text takes the form of a dialogue between a tormented soul, who is desperately lamenting the tragedy of Christ’s death, and an angel. Bastien und Bastienne is the only one of Mozart’s operas to have been written for performance in a private house rather than a theatre. Commissioned at some point in mid-1768 by the renowned and controversial German physician Franz Anton Mesmer, it tells the tale of two young shepherds, Bastien and Bastienne, being reconciled in love by the fortune teller and magician Colas after Bastien has briefly been lured away by the attractions of a noble lady from the city. This new recording uses Mozart’s original 1768 setting of the libretto by F. W. Weiskern & J. H. F. Müller, the provenance of which was only established in the 1980s. The orchestra is the star of the show - BBC Music Magazine Ian Page and his crack team are clearly having a lot of fun, which comes across in this excellent recording. It's a treat to experience - Gramophone Page’s Classical Opera project goes from strength to strength - The Sunday Times If you are looking for a superb performance of one of Mozart’s young productions then this is very much the best place to invest - Music Web International A little jewel not to be missed! - Crescendo (France) Heavenly! - Stretto (Holland) Ian Page's subtle and dynamic gesture makes all the difference, and places his musical output among that of the best Mozartian interpreters of today - Classique News (France)
  • Following her debut release of Baroque works by Vivaldi and Handel earlier this year, Grace Davidson returns to disc on Signum with an intimate disc of Dowland’s first book of lute songs, accompanied by David Miller. Blending melancholy with wit in his writing for both lute and voice, John Dowland’s songs have continued to enchant audiences and singers for nearly 400 years. The ‘First Booke’ includes some of Dowland’s less well-known works, and was recorded in the sensitive acoustic of Ascot Priory in Berkshire, UK.

    Performance ★★★★ Recording ★★★★★ Dowland's [works] find elegant interpreters here in Grace Davidson and David Miller - BBC Music Magazine These are beautiful, musical performances - Gramophone
  • In the centenary year of the Armistice of 1918, thoughts turn to the great human cost of the First World War and many subsequent armed conflicts. Released in support of the charity Combat Stress, this commemorative recording explores the themes associated with human conflict. The programme brings together texts and music pointing to the frailty that leads to the violence of war, but also to triumphs of the human spirit that so often arise from situations of the deepest desolation.

    The Choir of Chichester Cathedral are led by Charles Harrison in this collection of works by composers affected by the Great War, including Stanford, Bainton, Ireland, Howells, Parry and Elgar.

    Such understated yet beautifully moulded singing - Gramophone No other collection matches this - MusicWeb International Lest We Forget brings together eloquent pieces of music and text that reach remarkable depths of musical and artistic expression that still resonate in the modern day - Chichester Observer Both singing and playing are first class within the clear acoustic of Chichester Cathedral - Cross Rhythms Farrington's imaginative re-working of the orchestral score for organ should win it many devotees, especially in this fine performance - Planet Hugill
  • Julian Bliss joins the Carducci String Quartet in performances of two seminal works – Weber’s Clarinet Quintet in B flat Major, Op. 34 and Mozart’s Clarinet Quintet in A Major, K.581.

    Performance ★★★★ Recording ★★★★ Bliss tackles the score with a piercingly pure, vibrato less tone - BBC Music Magazine Aesthetically sensitive and technically excellent... this is a performance that carries with it a weight of authority from all musicians - Classical Ear

    This is the second collaboration on disc between Bliss and the Carducci String Quartet, following the 2016 release of David Bruce’s Gumboots and Brahms’s Clarinet Quintet (SIGCD448):

    Here’s a double delight. First, an engaging new work which deserves a place in the chamber repertory; second, a passionate account of Brahms’s Clarinet Quintet which can hold its head high against starrier competition…Bliss is in his element…for forthright Brahms and a toe-tapping new work, this is strongly recommendedGramophone

  • Bass-baritone Stephan Loges is accompanied by Iain Burnside in a collection that explores concepts of lost youth, the transience of life and the comforting presence of nature. The programme features performances of Schumann’s 12 Gedichte Op. 35 and Brahms’s 5 Lieder Op. 94, as well as in 5 rarely recorded works by Finnish composer Yrjö Kilpinen.

    Born in Dresden, Stephan Loges was an early winner of the Wigmore Hall International Song Competition. He has given recitals throughout the world, including regular appearances at Wigmore Hall London and the Oxford Lieder Festival, as well as Carnegie Hall New York and many more.

  • Hymns are a living link with the past, yet they still find freshness and relevance in the twenty- first century. Saint Thomas Aquinas comments that ‘hymns are the praise of God with song; a song is the exultation of the mind dwelling on eternal things, bursting forth in the voice’ and this explains neatly the vital place that hymnody has enjoyed throughout the ages, and continues to do so today. Praise my soul celebrates this glorious tradition of hymnody and showcases some of the hymns heard in Jesus College Chapel in their own regular pattern of choral services. Some of these, including Drop, drop, slow tears and Glory to thee, my God, this night have been sung regularly for hundreds of years. Others such as All my hope on God is founded or Christ Triumphant have become classics over the last half-century.

    The Choir of Jesus College Cambridge return to disc on Signum with their seventh release, and their first under choral director Richard Pinel.

    A magnificent disc of fine hymn tunes and outstanding music making - MusicWeb International
  • Resilience

    £12.00

    The Calidore Quartet present their first disc on Signum Records – a collection of quartets by Janáček, Prokofiev, Golijov and Mendelssohn.

    The pieces were the products of four compelling personal narratives: an escape from the NAZI eastern offensive in WWII, a life caught in the crosshairs of a surge of violence in the Middle East, the sudden death of one’s closest friend and the struggle of being trapped in a loveless marriage. Felix Mendelssohn and Leoš Janáček turned to their art to find an outlet for their personal grief while Sergei Prokofiev and Osvaldo Golijov used their compositions to make sense of a world that was turned upside down by violent conflict.

    Because of and despite these origins the works are imbued with emotional potency, and the quartet hope that that these works can provide “a message of hope because they illuminate the human potential to create beauty even in the darkest of circumstances.”

    Superb young quartet presents a timely and thought-provoking programme - The Strad Precision needn't inhibit expression; these lively, intelligent performances of an attractive and thought-provoking programme offer compelling proof - Gramophone Superb, rhythmically alert playing, the players’ collective virtuosity always at the service of the music - The Arts Desk The Calidore Quartet successfully capture the emotional charge of this powerful work, bringing resilience to a suitably stirring close - BBC Music Magazine If the recording is comparable to what this admirable group displayed last week, the loud ovations after the concert were completely justified - Seen and Heard International Never do these players lose sight of the fact that the music, for all its violence and passion, should be a thing of beauty - MusicWeb International
  • Christopher Glynn continues his series of late Schubert song cycles in English, joined by celebrated soloists Sir John Tomlinson, Sophie Bevan, Julian Bliss and Alec Frank-Gemmill.

    Titled by the works first publisher following Schubert’s death, Swansong (Schwanengesang) D 957 sets sets the words of poets Ludwig Rellstab, Heinrich Heine and Johann Gabriel Seidl in songs that cover a variety of different emotional states. The lighthearted Love Message (Liebesbotschaft), with its rippling accompaniment, addresses a murmuring brook with the hope of true love. The bone-chilling Doppelgänger with its stark, slowly tolling chords, finds the protagonist crazed with a nocturnal vision of himself agonizing at the empty doorstep of his lost love. Renowned for his clear diction and powerful voice, Sir John Tomlinson brings his insight and nuance to these profound works.

    Reminiscent of the scoring for The Shepherd on the Rock and composed in the same year, On the River (Auf dem Strom) combines soprano and horn in a setting of a poem by Ludwig Rellstab. Originally given to Beethoven who did not live long enough to set it, Schubert took up the words in a work that is a subtle homage to the composer.

    The 1828 work The Shepherd on the Rock (Der Hirt auf dem Felsen) sets words by Wilhelm Müller and German playwright Helmina von Chézy, and was composed in gratitude to the soprano Anna Milder-Hauptmann. Here performed by Sophie Bevan and Julian Bliss, it tells the story of a shepherd lamenting the distance between him and his beloved before a reflection on loneliness and grief. The final section celebrates the arrival of spring in a hopeful conclusion.

    The creamy clarity of both Alec Frank-Gemmill’s horn and Julian Bliss’s clarinet sound is a perfect foil for Sophie Bevan’s exquisite, rounded legato - BBC Music Magazine

    Christopher Glynn’s playing is excellent throughout - Gramophone

  • The Chineke! Orchestra return to disc on Signum in a new live orchestral recording from the Royal Festival Hall, London.

    Drawn from exceptional musicians from across the continent, the orchestra is part of the Chineke! Foundation – a non-profit organisation that provides career opportunities to young Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) classical musicians in the UK and Europe. Their motto is ‘Championing Change and Celebrating Diversity in Classical Music’.

    The Chineke! Orchestra is the brainchild of Chi-chi Nwanoku OBE, FRAM, who says: ‘My aim is to create a space where BME musicians can walk on stage and know that they belong, in every sense of the word. If even one BME child feels that their colour is getting in the way of their musical ambitions, then I hope to inspire them, give them a platform, and show them that music, of whatever kind, is for all people.’

    In this live concert recording under conductor Roderick Cox they perform Sibelius’s 2nd Symphony and Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto No.3, featuring multi-award-winning pianist Gerard Aimontche.

    The playing of both works... is most pleasing, the colours vivid, the excitement palatable, while Aimontche's sweeping reading of Rachmaninov's Piano Concerto No 3 astutely combines the intimate and epic, his tone never forced - The Sunday Times An excellent follow-up to their first recording for Signum Classics - BBC Radio 3 Record Review
  • Composer, musician and broadcaster John Brunning is perhaps best known for his choral work Pie Jesu. The piece was initially recorded by the vocal group ‘All Angels’, and there has since been around a dozen recordings including an acapella arrangement by The King’s Singers.

    In his introduction to the disc, John Brunning writes: There are probably more euphemisms employed when speaking of death than any other subject. Take a walk around a graveyard and you will see any number of headstones bearing inscriptions such as ‘passed away’, ‘fell asleep’, ‘called to rest’, and so on. Yet death is the one inescapable certainty that each of us must ultimately confront. I have sought to address this issue in as positive a way as possible with my cycle, ‘Swansongs’.

    Elin Manahan Thomas is one of the most versatile sopranos of her generation. Since releasing her début album Eternal Light in 2007 with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, she has performed at many of the world’s most prestigious venues, festivals and events, including the Royal Wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle in May 2018. On this recording she is accompanied by pianist Daniel Grimwood, a performer of international renown who combines an exceptional talent with rare versatility and refinement.