• Hideko Udagawa returns to disc on Signum with a new album of Russian Romantic music from Aram Khachaturian and Sergei Lyapunov. The two composers represented here symbolize two entirely different eras in Russian music – Lyapunov from the end of the Romanov Empire and Khachaturian from the height of the Soviet Union – yet their works are perhaps more an expression of continuities, of perennial concerns for Russian composers, such as the need to integrate folkloric elements with the demands of sophisticated musical structures for concert performance, and adherence to the great Russian traditions of violin-playing that go back to the middle of the 19th century. The concerto's rather grand manner suits Udagawa's noble style and steely tone wonderfully well ... The unaccompanied Sonata-Monologue is riveting - The Guardian Hideko Udagawa fulfils her part with a voluminously blazing sound which fits the works marvellously. It doesn't get much better than this!Wiener Zeitung The neglect of this winning and dramatic piece by Armenia’s most distinguished composer is inexplicable, but perhaps the reading here of the Concerto-Rhapsody will redress the balance, such is the persuasiveness of the playing. The coupling, Liapunov’s violin concerto, while a lesser piece, is also realised with great attention to detail - Classical CD Review
  • ( Original 1853 version of Trio Op. 8) 

    Sinfonia in B is Joseph Swensen’s orchestration of the little-known original version of Brahms’ B major piano trio. In Swensen’s own words: “Completed in 1854, it is the largest and arguably the most important of Brahms’ published early works, yet it remains nearly unknown to most musicians and music-lovers alike … The original Opus 8 is, for me, intriguing for many reasons. Not only is it a work of extraordinary quality and emotional depth, written by a composer just 21 years of age, but it is a quintessential example of Brahms’ ultra-romantic and forward looking early style.”

    This disc also explores the young Brahms’ connection with Robert and Clara Schumann, with orchestrations and performances (as a violin soloist) by Swensen of miniature works by both composers – as well as extracts from the ‘F-A-E’ sonata (a joint composition by Brahms, Robert Schumann and Joseph Joachim based on the motto ‘Frei aber einsam’ / ‘free but lonely’ – Joachim’s personal motto).

    Joseph Swensen has deliberately chosen a musical palette full of odd quirks and colours to reflect the fantastical nature of the work and it’s played with terrific verve and polish by the Malmö Opera OrchestraMetro
  • Rising star-soprano Elena Xanthoudakis is joined by the Royal Northern Sinfonia under Richard Bonynge in these exhilarating performances of some true Jewels of the Bel Canto aria tradition by Bellini, Verdi, Rossini and Donizetti.
  • J.S. Bach’s ‘Passions’ have been said to employ the word with more than one meaning – as well as telling the story of Christ’s sacrifice, they are simultaneously a celebration of human feeling in the joy and suffering of man’s pilgrimage on earth. The expert early music chamber orchestra Yorkshire Baroque Soloists bring all of these feelings to life in a dramatic and resonant performance of Bach’s Passio Secundum Johannem (St John Passion). Joined for this recording by the excellent Charles Daniels, Stephen Varcoe and Stephan Loges, the Yorkshire Baroque Soloists have been a leading light in the world of Early Music performance since their formation in 1973. As dramatically coherent and satisfying as I’ve heard for a while… this is a St John which carries open-hearted conviction and character before it - Gramophone Charles Daniel’s level-headed Evangelist anchors the narrative thrust with suave sagacity - BBC Music Magazine A coherent, articulate and engaging performance that balances well the work’s twin identities as narrative and contemplation - MusicWeb International
  • "The B minor". That phrase alone resonates with gravity in the hearts and minds of those who love as no other the music of J.S. Bach. This disc sees the Rodolfus Choir at their best, as renowned Bach interpreters, having played his works across the UK to great acclaim. Following a live broadcast on BBC Radio 3 and performance at Holy Trinity Guildford at the end of 2009, this disc, recorded in the chapel of Charterhouse School continues their evergrowing catalogue of extraordinary recordings. Performance ★★★★ Recording ★★★★ The soloists are a fine team. In 'Domine Deus', Sophie Bevan and Ben Johnson match perfectly in imitation... Highly recommended- BBC Music Magazine There is uncanny vocal empathy between Sophie Bevan and Clint van der Linde, which, in 'Et in unum Dominum', results in the most extraordinary complementing of vocal lines... both stimulating and refreshing - International Record Review If some forty young singers can produce a recorded account of the B Minor Mass of this quality then the future for British choral music is bright indeed - MusicWeb International
  • World renowned Welsh composer, John Metcalf presents his new work,In Time of Daffodils. A song cycle, originally set for voice & piano, Metcalf has extended his own work into an orchestral masterpiece, setting the words of much loved poets to the six concluding songs of the cycle. Metcalf drew on material from 12 years of creative work to produce the three works which appear on his latest release. Metcalf emphasises the connections in the way the movements were conceived; originating as a whole or in part as works with piano. Metcalf embraced the pan-diatonic or ‘white note’ style when composingParadise Haunts and Three Mobiles encompassing a sense of minimalism in each, yet the movements are both distinctive; Three Mobiles has a larger rhythmic complexity than the more sublime former. The BBC National Orchestra perform beautifully with Thomas Bowes and Gerard McChrystal interweaving with leading lines on violin and saxophone. The final movement, In Time of Daffodils is a collection of beautiful songs performed by Jeremy Huw Williams, (baritone). The songs are based on texts from 7 poems by poets including William Wordsworth and Amy Lowell, based around the central theme – and emblem of Wales – the daffodil. The Welsh Orchestra was outstanding from the downbeat - Washington Post I have to concede it's difficult not to be charmed ... The strength of Metcalf's score lies in its horse-sure sense of shaping over an extended, one-movement span and his creative handling of the orchestra ... The strength of Metcalf's score lies in its horse-sure sense of shaping over an extended, one-movement span and his creative handling of the orchestra - Grampohone The music, as in the other works of Metcalf, is often warmly melodic and lyrical as well as strongly expressive - MusicWeb International
  • Signum Records are delighted to welcome the CBSO, under the direction of Mark Elder, to the Signum label. For Shostakovich the six years which span this recording (1931 – 1937) were a period of almost incredibly change and upheaval. It was at this time that the young man faced his first serious political difficulties which culminated in the terrors of 1936. In 1930, the composer met the celebrated vaudeville and pioneer jazz-performer Leonid Utiosov, an astonishing talent who introduced Shostakovich to the world of the theatre. Hypothetically Murdered was written in 1931 to open the Music Hall’s new season. After its initial run, the show was not revived and at some point, probably during the siege of Leningrad, the full-score, parts and libretto disappeared, leaving only a folder with around 40 pages of detailed piano sketches with instrumental indications. The Orchestral Suite Op. 31a, given its world premiere recording on this disc, consists of all the complete surviving orchestral numbers from the folder of sketches, reorchestrated from the composers scribbled notes, and in the style of his surviving theatre music from the period. Nearly six years after Hypotheically Murdered, Shostakovich finished his Four Romances on Poems by Pushkin Op. 46. By this time the composer, and his messages, have profoundly changed. These Romances are music of mature seriousness, and dark with sorrow set against the literary work of the greatest and most humane of all Russian writers. After finishing the Romances, Shostakovich went on to create the Fifth Symphony, using motifs and fragments from the first poem – Rebirth. Thus he was able to hide the words of Pushkin’s passionate poem, a declaration to the power of art to survive barbarism and oppression, beneath the musical argument of his symphonic finale. The fascinating and rarely performed Five Fragments, written in a single sitting in July 1935, are one of Shostakovich’s last experimental works. They prepare the ground for the composition of the massive Fourth Symphony, just as the Romances do for the Fifth. The popular Suite for Jazz Orchestra No. 1 was written early in 1934. This delightful highly ironic music is a continuation of the spirit of laughter and adventure that had earlier led Shostakovich to work with the great Utiosov on Hypothetically Murdered. As with most ‘Soviet Jazz’ of the period there is not much jazz here, more of a feeling of operetta and cabaret music and also of Jewish songs. Despite such jollity there is always an undertone of depth and darkness, of real sadness and foreboding underlying the sentimentality and parody.
  • The Gabrieli Consort continue their series of award-winning collaborations with the National Forum of Music, Wrocław, Poland with a new version of Haydn’s great oratorio The Seasons. Using a new performing edition by Paul McCreesh this recording is the first to feature the large orchestral forces that Haydn called for, including a string section of 60, 8 horns and a choir of 70. As well as the combined forces of the Gabrieli Consort & Players, Wrocław Baroque Orchestra and National Forum of Music Choir, the recording features solo performances from British singers Carolyn Sampson, Jeremy Ovenden and Andrew Foster-Williams. All booklet texts are printed in both English and Polish translations.
  • Rebecca Miller leads the Royal Northern Sinfonia in performances of three Haydn Symphonies. This new release follows Miller’s acclaimed recording of the works of CPE Bach with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment. There is much to praise here - Early Music Review The grandeur of the work seems to suit Miller's imaginative approach, with some especially effective phrasing... These admirable performances make a worthwhile addition to the catalogue of the often-neglected middle-period symphonies - Gramophone The grandeur of the work seems to suit Miller's imaginative approach, with some especially effective phrasingGramophone
  • The London Chamber Orchestra, the UK’s oldest chamber orchestra, has nurtured the new and paid homage to the traditional since 1921. Since 1988 Principal Conductor and Music Director Christopher Warren-Green has brought together the inspirational musicians and repertoire for which LCO is renowned. The remarkable acoustic and intimate ambience of St. John’s, Smith Square, its London home, enable the LCO - the only chamber orchestra resident in London - to give vibrant performances and establish a close rapport with its audiences. The recordings on the LCO Live label, in partnership with Signum Classics, are the result of this happy marriage of orchestra and venue. Future releases include Beethoven’s Egmont Overture, Mozart’s Symphony No. 1 and Mendelssohn’s Symphony No. 4.

    The concerts of Warren-Green and the London Chamber Orchestra at St John’s, Smith Square aren’t often noticed in the press, but their large regular audience knows that they are some of the most exciting in London - The Times

    Tan’s engaging way with Mozart’s Concerto No. 12 intersects nicely with the orchestra’s freshly minted accompaniment. Rosemary Furniss’s direction of Haydn’s ‘La Reine’ Symphony captures the music’s grandeur as well as its grace. And the subversive originality and rhythmic drive of Beethoven’s wackiest symphony come roaring happily across - Classic FM Magazine

  • The Gliere Harp Concerto has always been a favorite among harp enthusiasts; written in the 1930s, the work’s stylistic features are reminiscent of the Viennese classical style united with Russian romantic nationalism. This disc highlights the extraordinary talent of the Official Harpist to H.R.H. the Prince of Wales, Claire Jones. She is joined by renowned flautist William Bennet OBE, and the English Chamber Orchestra to complete the release with Mozart’s Concerto for flute, harp and Orchestra and Debussy’s Danses pour Harpe Chromatique. Claire has performed for members of the Royal Family on more then 70 occasions and has recently performed a brand new Royal Commission by Patrick Hawes at Highgrove House with the Philharmonia Orchestra. ★ I hope Claire Jone’s excellent performance, with the English Chamber Orchestra under Paul Watkins, will bring its many merits to the attention of a wider audience - The Daily Mail ★★★★ [Jones] performs diligently and allows [her] instrument to gleam and twinkle sonically in front of the self-effacing ECO - Classic FM Magazine Jones plays with a warmth, charm and relaxed ease ideal for winter evening listening. Mozart apparently loathed both the flute and harp, but after hearing this performance you would never know itBBC Music Magazine A disc [that] splendidly celebrating the artistry of Claire Jones - Gramophone
  • Signum Records are delighted to present the second recording on SignumClassics of the CBSO, under the direction of Mark Elder. In his youth Shostakovich devoted much time and energy to composing for the theatre and the cinema, writing for an astonishing variety of movies, political plays, satires, the music-hall and the ballet. The music for Nikolai Akimov’s outrageous and scandalous production of Hamlet was composed in the winter of 1931 – 1932. Akimov had decided that tragedy was irrelevant to the modern Soviet audience, and therefore presented the play as a satirical farce in which the play was turned up-side-down, by reversing all the usual assumptions about the plot and how it should be acted. The alterations to Shakespeare’s work are reflected in the titles of several of Shostakovich’s numbers. He was asked to provide music for scenes that Shakespeare only refers to but which Akimov insisted on representing on stage, for example the feast where "funeral baked meats did coldly furnish forth the marriage tables". The overall character of Shostakovich’s music is often abrasive and satirical, and flippant just where we would expect the music to be more serious. There are also some funny moments, with particular sharp parodies of various well-known musico-theatrical clichés. In 1954 Kozintsev had also attempted to direct a staged version of Hamlet. For this occasion he decided to reuse music that Shostakovich had already written for him to use in a staged production of King Lear in 1941. All that Kozintsev asked Shostakovich to add for the 1954 Hamlet were a Gigue and a Finale, both of which are included on this recording as an appendix to the music for Akimov’s 1932 production. The music that Shostakovich wrote for Kozintsev’s 1941 King Lear production inhabits a strange and transitional world, halfway between the bright and brilliant sarcasm of the music for Akimov’s Hamlet of ten years earlier and the more soberly functional manner of his post-war theatrical music. Gone is most of the cheekiness, the fondness for the experimental and the grotesque. There is much in this often oppressively dark music that is characteristic of what was by now Shostakovich’s public symphonic manner. Perhaps the most powerful and unusual part of the score is the bizarre cycle of Fool’s songs, with which the Fool mocks the mistakes of his master, the King, in the course of the first three Acts. The music of these songs is as strange and quirky as the words they set. Taken as a whole, these ten songs make up a miniature cycle of sourly absurd, almost expressionistic outbursts for voice and orchestra.
  • Around the time The King’s Singers was starting up, one of the most productive periods of song- writing in history was coming to a close in America, starting with composers such as Gershwin, Kern, Berlin and Porter in the early 1920s, and continuing through to the early 1960s.

    In this new 2-CD studio recording – featuring brand new a cappella arrangements by jazz composer and arranger Alexander L’Estrange, and swing-orchestra performances with the South Jutland Symphony Orchestra – The King’s Singers bring their own unique performance style to this wonderful music. The King’s Singers bring their unique style to some of the most beloved hits from the golden era of songwritingThe Lady
  • Christina Rossetti’s 19th Century poem Goblin Market has long divided and bemused readers as to its meaning and intent. The story of two sisters and their encounters with the sinister Goblin men and their ‘forbidden’ fruit, has been variously interpreted as an allegory of proto-feminism, a critique on the rise of advertising in pre-capitalist England, and an exploration of feminine sexuality in relation to the Victorian world. This multitude of interpretations only adds to the poems mystique and imagery, captured here by the Pulitzer Prize winning composer Aaron Jay Kernis. Performed by London-based ensemble The New Professionals under Rebecca Miller, the work is a unique concoction of music, mime and masks that delves into the overripe and at times grotesque and shocking imagery of Christina Rossetti’s poem. Goblin Market explores both the Victorian repression coded into its text as well as its parallels with contemporary social issues. An inventive treatment of music theatre - The Guardian This should be heard … not a moment that's not ear-catching - International Record Review It is no exaggeration to say that Goblin Market is one of the great musical works of art for theatre of the 20th century - MusicWeb International Well-balanced sound as well as detailed annotations add to the attractions of this worthwhile release - Gramophone
  • Star British cellist Jamie Walton returns to disc on Signum with a programme Russian repertoire by composers Glazunov, Prokofiev and Tchaikovsky. Joined by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra under Okko Kamu, the disc includes the original version of Tchaikovsky’s Variations on a Rococo Theme. Jamie Walton's outstanding programme of Russian classics captures the music's soaring lyricism with impassioned eloquence and interpretative flair - The Strad Walton embraces Glazunov's tenderness with the warmth and suppleness of his tone...Walton interprets [the Prokofiev] with impressive, seamless sweeps and refined dynamic shading - The Daily Telegraph Seamless lyricism and glorious tone - Gramophone [Walton] delivers a particularly eloquent and virtuosic account of the work - BBC Music Magazine
  • Sale!
    In his new Saxophone Concerto, Gabriel Prokofiev explores a side of classical music usually seen as forbidden by modern contemporary composers: melody. This aspect was incorporated at the request of the soloist, Branford Marsalis, allowing Prokofiev to revisit characteristics of the classical tradition not usually heard in contemporary music, giving the saxophone an open canvas. Prokofiev’s Bass Drum Concerto shows the versatility of the instrument, despite only being used in a very basic fashion in classical music as a whole. Prokofiev experiments with how the bass drum is struck, where it is struck, and what it is struck with throughout the piece, producing a variety of sounds, colours and textures.