• After the success of their debut disc, ‘Voyages’, Mary Bevan and Joseph Middleton present their second recital disc exploring Lieder in German and Italian by Schubert, Haydn and Wolf. The programme is woven around songs inspired by the ‘muses’ of the day, both mythological and divine. It begins with Schubert’s dramatic and reverential settings of sacred German poetry, set alongside his lush emotional portrayals of female characters in the Italian settings. The central section of the disc is then devoted to Haydn’s epic ‘scena’ depicting the famously cruel abandonment of Arianna by her lover Teseo, ‘Arianna a Naxos’. Haydn’s beautiful prayer ‘Geistliches Lied’ takes us back into the world of German poetry and the religious fervour that arose from the collective belief in Christianity which pervaded most art forms of the age. The disc then moves into works by Hugo Wolf, whose stunning settings of devotional texts take the listener right to the heart of the characters; a few of these songs were in fact inspired by paintings. The early moments of Jesus Christ’s life are vividly portrayed here, particularly in songs such as ‘Die ihr Schwebet’, ‘Auf ein Altes Bild’ and ‘Schlafendes Jesuskind’, while the haunting ‘Gesang Weylas’ invites the listener into the world of the mysterious goddes Weyla who wistfully dreams of the shores of her distant homeland. From Ganymed to Christ, Dido to the Virgin Mary, Arianna to St Peter, this recital disc richly illustrates the lives and events surrounding the ‘divine muses’ who inspired these composers.
  • Coupling powerful interpretations with path-breaking scholarship, Contrapunctus presents music by the best known composers as well as unfamiliar masterpieces. The group’s repertoire is drawn from England, the Low Countries, Spain, Portugal and Germany, particularly in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The scholarly facet of the group’s work – including the discovery of long-lost music and reconstructions of original performing contexts – allows audiences to experience the first performances of many works in modern times. Owen Rees is both an acclaimed choral director and an internationally recognised scholar of Renaissance music, particularly from Spain, Portugal, and England. His scholarship consistently informs his performances in exciting and revelatory ways. He has brought to the concert hall and recording studio substantial repertories of magnificent Renaissance and Baroque music, including many previously unknown or little- known works, and he has played a leading role in revealing the glories of Portuguese Renaissance polyphony to an international audience. His interpretations have been acclaimed as ‘revelatory and even visionary’ (BBC Music Magazine) and as ‘rare examples of scholarship and musicianship combining to result in performances that are both impressive and immediately attractive to the listener’ (Gramophone). During the 16th century, the music of Josquin Desprez became hugely sought after. Large quantities of his music were published in cathedral music books and instrumental anthologies (a huge step in this period of history). This inspired three of the greatest Spanish composers of this age - Morales, Guerrero and Victoria. In this new Signum recording, Contrapunctus and Owen Rees explore the repertoire which was produced as a result of this inspiration.
  • The Goossens Messiah, recorded for the first and only time by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and Chorus under Sir Thomas Beecham, has stood as a landmark of the classical catalogue for sixty years. Goossens’ richly orchestrated version is set to reach a new audience thanks to Maestro Griffith and DCINY, New York City’s leading promoter of classical music. They gathered at Abbey Road Studios in London in July 2019, to record the work with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and a chorus comprising of sixty members of The Jonathan Griffith Singers, drawn from around the world and sixty members of the National Youth Choir of Great Britain. The new recording has captured the score’s vibrant tone colours in thrilling high-definition sound. An acclaimed conductor, educator and lecturer, Dr. Jonathan Griffith has led performances across North America, Europe, and Asia. Griffith is Co-Founder and Artistic Director of Distinguished Concerts International New York (DCINY), which has brought together, under Griffith’s artistic leadership, thousands of musicians and choral singers in concert at prestigious venues across the United States, including Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, and Disney Hall. The founder and Music Director of the Distinguished Concerts Orchestra, Griffith also oversees DCINY’s mentoring program for conductors.   Founded in 1983 as a single choir of 100 of the best singers in the nation, the National Youth Choir is now the flagship ensemble of an Arts Council England National Portfolio youth music organisation and registered charity, the National Youth Choir of Great Britain (NYCGB), which runs five membership choirs, a nationwide outreach programme for schools and Music Hubs, and provides professional training for the next generation of choral singers, composers and leaders.
  • The programme performed here by baritone Christopher Maltman and pianist Joseph Middleton was born whilst Maltman was studying at the Royal Academy of Music. The compositions have been selected to form a coherent but flexible narrative that produces a touching memoire to all those affected by war. One composer chosen for the record, George Butterworth, was a casualty of the First World War: in September 1915 he went to the trenches and was killed, aged 31, in the Battle of the Somme on 5th August 1916. The use of his composition, A Shropshire Lad, is touching in this instance. It gives the listener a more sensitive perspective of the loss in World War One, almost allowing the listener to see the faces of those who passed away, most of whom were young ‘lads’ from various parts of the country.
  • Magnificat

    £12.00
    Magnificat & Nunc Dimittis was recorded to explore the breadth of imagination with which composers have approached the texts, which have been sung in Christian worship for over 1000 years. Stanford’s starting point was the Germanic symphonic tradition; Howells took his inspiration from the architecture and acoustics of the Cathedral in Gloucester; Tippett was inspired by the unique Spanish trumpet stop at St John’s. The Evening Cantincles chosen for this record relate to a particular period of music making in the life of St John’s conductor, Andrew Nethsingha; his time at the Royal College of Music; at Truro and Gloucester Cathedrals, and lastly his time at St John’s. Founded in the 1670s, The Choir of St John’s College, Cambridge, is one of the finest collegiate choirs in the world – known and loved by millions for its rich, warm and distinctive sound, expressive interpretations and ability to sing in a variety of styles.
  • "Singing together binds us together. From the Protestant Reformation in Europe during the 1500s to the U.S. Civil Rights Movement, there have been countless moments in history when songs have united nations, cultures and causes. This is still the case in today’s world. Finding Harmony is evidence that music has always been our common language. A unique collection of pieces that span the globe – including music that’s too often forgotten – each song is the key to a powerful true story about who we are and how we’ve got here. Together, Finding Harmony proves how deeply we can be moved by all kinds of stories when songs connect us to them, and to each other."
  • Acclaimed for their life-affirming virtuosity and irresistible charm, The King’s Singers are in global demand. Their work – synonymous with the best in vocal ensemble performance – appeals to a vast international audience. The Library is the name of a series of EP releases that celebrates our ‘close-harmony’ library, both historically and as it grows each year. Close-harmony is the phrase we have always used to describe its lighter repertoire, and we see The Library as our chance to make sure this rich vein of great song-writing and arranging gets the place of prominence it deserves. The Library recording series will involve regular releases which will come out alongside other touring and recording projects, giving us an output for revisiting some of these old favourites and commissioning brand new close harmony from recent releases. Every volume in The Library series will capture a variety of songs, celebrating the wonderful diversity of music in our world today.
  • Based at Windsor Castle, the members of The Queen’s Six make up half of the Lay Clerks of St George’s Chapel, whose homes lie within the Castle walls. This rare privilege demands the highest musical standards, as they sing regularly for the Royal family at both private and state occasions. In 2018 this included the weddings of Princess Eugenie and Mr Jack Brooksbank, and Prince Harry and Ms Meghan Markle, both held in St George’s Chapel. Most significantly however, it is the familiarity of living and singing together in Chapel every day that lends this group its distinctive closeness and blend, as well as an irresistible informality and charm. Individually, members of The Queen’s Six have appeared in many of the most prestigious vocal ensembles on the circuit, including The Tallis Scholars, Tenebrae, and The Sixteen. Their repertoire extends far beyond the reach of the choir stalls: from austere early chant, florid Renaissance polyphony, lewd madrigalsand haunting folk songs to upbeat Jazz and Pop arrangements.
  • The creation of the Song Cycle as a new art form in the early 19th Century was paved with musical experiments and innovations. On this disc we illustrate the progress made by the great Lied composers of the day toward the cyclical perfection finally achieved by Beethoven and Schubert, and since emulated by Schumann, Loewe, Wolf, Fauré, Britten, Shostakovich and so many others. A Song Cycle is distinguishable from a collection of songs or a Liederspiel by some type of interior cohesion: a unifying theme, text from a single source, a narrative. It could be a musical connection: recurring devices and motifs, key relationships between songs, or perhaps a fixed performance order. Usually, a combination of these criteria is necessary to bestow on any song collection the title of Song Cycle.
  • Sale!

    Handel’s Queens

    £18.00 £14.40
    Handel’s Queens features some of the most exquisite pieces of music written by G.F. Handel and his contemporaries for the two finest singers of the eighteenth century, Faustina Bordoni and Francesca Cuzzoni. Often wrongfully framed as rivals, these dazzling new recordings with Mary Bevan and Lucy Crowe reveal the distinctive yet versatile talent of the Italian vocalists.  Conductor Bridget Cunningham continues her research and created Handel’s Queens and directs London Early Opera from the harpsichord. Handel’s Queens - as part of this important series serves as a further example of Cunningham’s dedication to imaginative programming and outstanding period performance on this double CD placing her at the forefront of baroque research and recording.
  • Discover 50 of the most relaxing pieces of classical music, featuring recordings by The King's Singers, Fretwork, Alessio Bax and Tamsin Waley-Cohen. A new Signum compilation, this digital exclusive is available to buy and stream on iTunes, Apple Music and Spotify.
  • Sale!
    When Michael Nyman started reinventing the English baroque back in the 1980s, one critic described the result as “pump-action Purcell.” This recording combines these two singular musical styles through the stunning voice of countertenor Iestyn Davies and viol consort Fretwork, serving as the bridge across three centuries. The programme combines bold harmonies, wondrous inventions, and melodies that will haunt your dreams – whether from the 17th century or the 21st. Recorded following a concert tour of the programme, the disc includes the premiere recording of a new commission from Michael Nyman, Music after a While – based upon Purcell’s song, or more particularly upon its strikingly original bass-line, with its insidious rising chromatics. ★ A beautiful account - Planet Hugill Editor's Choice: The Nyman performances are exemplary – crisp and cleanly articulated from Fretwork and dispatched by Davies with a vacant, unrippled purity that is so essential to the music - Gramophone All executed with perfection - The Observer
  • Owen Rees leads early-music consort Contrapunctus alongside The Choir of The Queen’s College, Oxford in performances of John Taverner’s masterwork, the Missa Gloria tibi trinitas. A virtuosic work, it has pride of place in the Forrest-Heyther partbooks (in the Bodleian Library in Oxford), which it has been variously argued originated at Cardinal College or at the Chapel Royal. It might well have been heard on Trinity Sunday in the chapel of Cardinal Thomas Wolsey’s palace at Hampton Court. The work is accompanied by other sacred choral works by Taverner, including his Ave Maria composed for Wolsey’s Cardinal College, Oxford, and one of his most widely copied works, Gaude plurimum – a dramatic work where Taverner exploits the power of his full forces to evoke Christ’s harrowing of hell and the breaking of ‘the bloody powers of the prince of eternal death.’ Contrapunctus is an early-music vocal ensemble dedicated to passionate interpretations informed by authoritative insight and understanding. 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. Performance ★★★★ Recording ★★★★★ Rees brings together both of his crack ensembles [and] the 40-strong collective recreates [Taverner's] lavish sound - BBC Music Magazine ★★★★★ Rees has a natural affinity for this music, whether underlining differences of mood, allowing phrases to bloom or deftly judging cadential arrivals, his touch is instinctive - Classical Source ★★★★★ [A] thrilling new recording - Planet Hugill 9/10 Between them the music of John Taverner comes alive and whether your interest is in Tudor polyphony of acappella choral singing this release will bring much pleasure - Cross Rhythms This glorious programme of polyphony by John Taverner offers much opportunity for contrast as delicate, sinuous passages of vocal chamber music open up into densely populated choral vistas - Choir & Organ The full ensemble brings an undeniable grandeur - Gramophone A must for early music devotees - The Northern Echo A very fine album - MusicWeb International Beautifully recorded by Signum, this is a novel and beautiful Tudor choral release - AllMusic
  • 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.

    ★★★★ Loges and Burnside are a responsive duo... an intuitive set of songs with real light and shade throughout - BBC Music Magazine A sensitive, touching account of [Schumann's Op 35 cycle], with Iain Burnside offering fine piano playing - Gramophone Iain Burnside is as usual a flexible accompanist and Stephan Loges, who has already an impressive catalogue of recordings behind him, adds a further gem to his [collection] - MusicWeb International
  • 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
  • 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