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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
Internationally-renowned chamber choir Tenebrae return with a new collection of British part songs and choral works. As well as being a celebration of compositions by British composers, the disc also marks Shakespeare’s anniversary year with a selection of works based on his texts, including the much loved works by Vaughan Williams and a lesser-known set by Herbert Murrill. Perhaps the least recognisable composer name on this disc, Murrill (1909-1952) is one of a select group of composers who – through war or ill-health – died at a tragically young age and whose works were subsequently neglected during the second half of the century.
As part of Signum's 15th anniversary year we are delighted to release this celebratory collection of The Best of 'The King's Singers' – a 2-CD collection drawn from their now extensive catalogue on Signum.The first CD includes titles from Christmas (the groups debut album with Signum, released in 2004), along with music from Landscape and Time, Treason and Dischord, Gesualdo’s Tenebrae Responsories, Sacred Bridges, Siglio d’Oro, Romance du soir, From the heart, High Flight and the 2012 release Royal Rhymes and Rounds.The second CD presents songs from four albums: Six, their most recent light album Swimming over London and the Grammy® Award winning Simple Gifts.
The Chinese poet, Du Fu (712-770), received no recognition in his lifetime but is now regarded as one of China’s finest poets. His poems appear in Roth’s work, Songs in Time of War, a stunning compilation of songs from Du Fu’s experiences in civil war China, beautifully arranged for tenor, violin, harp and guitar.
Inspired by a visit to Vancouver’s Chinese garden (in authentic Ming Dynasty style), Roth sketched musical ideas for the four songs, Chinese Gardens. The original version has since been revised for Mark Padmore and Morgan Szymanski who perform for the first time on this recording.
Swimming Over London is a new studio?album of jazz?inspired hits and recent commissions performed by The King’s Singers, and is a follow up to their Grammy Award?winning crossover album Simple Gifts.
This album covers a huge range of pop and jazz?inspired influences – from old favourites (Nat King Cole’s Straighten up and fly right, Arlen & Gershwin’s It’s a New World and Hogey Carmichael’s Lazy Bones) to modern hits (Michael Bublé’s Home, Jason Mraz’s I’m Yours and Imogen Heaps Hide and Seek). Commissions especially for the album come from Bob Chilcott, Mia Makaroff, Ysaye M. Barnwell and Roger Treece.
A special King’s Singers arrangement of Mika’s By the time is also featured, inspired by their performance with him for the 2009 Mencap Little Noise sessions at the Union Chapel.
“They are always breathtakingly impressive in their vocal virtuosity, blend and pinpoint intonation.”
American Record Guide
“They are still unmatched for their sheer musicality and ability to entertain.”
“...a musical group of the very highest order.”
David Hurley countertenor
Timothy Wayne-Wright countertenor
Paul Phoenix tenor
Philip Lawson baritone
Christopher Gabbitas baritone
Stephen Connolly bass
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.
One of the UK’s leading choral directors for over 50 years, Stephen Wilkinson MBE has led both professional and amateur choirs across Europe, and is particularly renowned for his work with the BBC Northern Singers and the William Byrd Singers of Manchester. Only retiring from conducting in 2009 at the age of 90, Stephen Wilkinson’s songs span the breadth of his long career as a conductor and musician, and are best described by his daughter Clare – an acclaimed mezzo-soprano herself who also performs on this recording – as being “a unique voice, yet deeply rooted in the English song tradition of Finzi, Gurney and Quilter.” Performed by British singers Mhairi Lawson, Clare Wilkinson, James Gilchrist and Matthew Brook, they draw on texts by a wealth of sources including Auden, Yates, Coleridge, Shakespeare and many more. Highly persuasive English lyricism… a worthwhile labour of love - The Guardian There are fine things here…. strikingly original…. rooted in textual detail - Gramophone Drawing on texts from the likes of Auden, Yates, Coleridge and Shakespeare, this is a must for devotees - Northern Echo The English song tradition continues to bear fruit [and] Wilkinson takes his place in the canon - MusicWeb International
British soprano Sarah Fox makes her solo recording debut with songs by Broadway songwriting legend Cole Porter. Accompanied by pianist and arranger James Burton, highlights include ‘In the Still of the Night’ from Rosalie; ‘I’ve got you Under My Skin’ from Born to Dance, and ‘I get a Kick out of You’ from Anything Goes. ★★★★ Sarah Fox and James Burton [give] lovely relaxed performances - Planet Hugill [Sarah Fox] lends a classic feel to all the favourite, including I've Got You Under My Skin, I Get a Kick Out Of You and Anything Goes - The Lady A wholly delightful disc - MusicWeb International
Signum Records is delighted to announce the completion of Chapelle du Roi's recordings of the complete works of Thomas Tallis. This major project has taken seven years to complete. It was the brain child of Alistair Dixon and brought to fruition jointly by Chapelle du Roi and the engineering and production company Floating Earth.
Signum Records is proud to announce the release of the latest recording by The King's Singers: Gesualdo's Tenebrae Responsories for Maundy Thursday. The Italian Prince, Carlos Gesualdo, is probably most famous for the obsessive double murder of his first wife along with her lover, but his music is not always accredited with the same sense of celebrity. Gesualdo is known in traditional history books as an amateur composer. His music is characterised by wild gesticulation and abrupt starts and stops, particular to a composer who just didn’t know what he was doing. However, the 20th century has now uncovered our composer’s place in history as part of a larger movement of Neapolitan artists, and as perhaps the most forward-thinking, expressive and sensual composer of his time. The King’s Singers were fascinated by the naked honesty that is heard within this 400 year old music. It is so startling that it keeps its freshness of surprise even on many repeated hearings. The music portrays a desperate and wretched, but also passionate and loving person who is set on composing "further out" than anyone else. Gesualdo moved in the highest circles of Italy and was extremely wealthy. His decadent lifestyle allowed him to do and write exactly as he pleased, and at the tender age of 19 it brought him into close contact with one of the most attractive and admired women in Naples. Maria d’Avalos was twice widowed by the age of 25. Her marriage to Gesualdo was initially promising. However, Maria’s rich social life soon dominated the relationship and a profound and constant jealousy took possession of the young and highly sensitive composer. After four years of turmoil he hired professional murderers to assist him in killing wife and lover while they were in bed together. The violence and rage of the act is well-documented. After the murder of Maria, Gesualdo suffered from severe and increasing feelings of guilt. Penitence never left him and he was moved to compose church music of a most black and self-reproachful nature. The programme on this CD represents part of the liturgy for the Matins Offices on the final three days of Holy Week, the Triduum Sacrum. Each of the Matins services is divided into three nocturns, each containing psalmody, three lessons and three responsaries. The attention given to word-painting is exemplary - The Times A no holds barred, immaculately sung performance from the King's Singers. Unmissable - Classic FM Magazine
A must-have for choral-aficionados everywhere that sees perhaps the world’s finest a cappella ensemble The King’s Singers join forces with The Concordia Choir – one of the USA’s best collegiate groups – to perform works by choral composers Eric Whitacre, Bob Chilcott and Morten Lauridsen.
One of the world’s most celebrated ensembles, The King’s Singers have a packed schedule of concerts, recordings, media and education work that spans the globe. Championing the work of young and established composers, they remain consummate entertainers; a class-act with a delightfully British wit. From Gesualdo and György Ligeti to Michael Bublé, The King’s Singers are instantly recognisable for their spot-on intonation, their impeccable vocal blend, the flawless articulation of the text and incisive timing.
The Concordia Choir of Moorhead, Minnesota is one of America’s finest a cappella choirs. Since 1920, the 72-voice choir has performed in nearly every major hall including Carnegie Hall and Kennedy Center and has taken numerous international tours. The Choir is broadcast throughout the United States on public radio stations and on television via its Emmy-award winning Concordia Christmas Concert.
Includes the world premiere recordings of Alone by Eric Whitacre, and High Flight, anyone lived in a pretty how town and Days by Bob Chilcott
Pianist Malcolm Martineau brings together some of the UK’s finest singers for the third release in his series charting the complete songs of French composer Gabriel Fauré. This series follows Martineau’s well-received 5-CD series of The Complete Songs of Francis Poulenc.
Classical Opera explore a wealth of arias by Handel and his contemporaries William Boyce, John Christopher Smith and Thomas Arne, all of which were composed for the celebrated 18th-century tenor John Beard (1716-1791). For this recording Allan Clayton steps ably into this role, performing alongside the Orchestra of Classical Opera under Ian Page. The disc also features a duet with Mary Bevan, from Handel’s L’Allegro, il Penseroso ed il Moderato.★★★★ Rousing renditions - The Times A must for early music devotees - Gramophone A delight... I cannot recommend it too highly - Classic FM The outstanding young tenor [John Beard] fulfils his early promise - The Sunday Times
London Early Opera perform a unique programme of Handel’s Italian-inspired works, devised by conductor Bridget Cunningham and featuring a unique family collaboration from from world-renowned soprano sisters Sophie Bevan and Mary Bevan alongside their uncle, bass Benjamin Bevan. Editor's Pick: This is as polished an account as any on account of Sophie Bevan's unerring sense of decorum for what each movement requires - Gramophone The quality of the musicianship is high - BBC Music Magazine A dazzling disc from the Bevan siblings - The Observer An enjoyable showcase for Mary, Sophie and Benjamin Bevan - The Sunday Times A pleasant compilation, showcasing the considerable vocal talents of three of the Bevan family - Early Music Review
Ian Venables’ reputation as ‘one of the finest song composers of his generation’ (BBC Music Magazine) finds voice in this disc of premiere recordings of two of his substantial song cycles. International baritone, Roderick Williams is joined by the Carducci String Quartet and pianist Graham J Lloyd in The Song of the Severn, a celebration of Venables’ home county of Worcestershire and The Pine Boughs Past Music, a poignant tribute to the poetic talents of Ivor Gurney. Other songs include those with solo piano and arrangements by Graham J Lloyd, for string quartet. Each work highlights Venables’ gift of being able to take poetry to a higher level of appreciation and at the same time create works of lasting beauty. Sharply memorable music of bewitching lyricism, idiomatic grace and rapt instinct - GramophoneThe Carducci String Quartet [are] exemplary in their interpretations - BBC Music Magazine
The Gabrieli’s first Handel recording in over a decade is particularly special, recreating in painstaking detail the very first performance of L’Allegro, il Penseroso ed il Moderato, given in 1740, with additional instrumental repertoire including a Handel organ concerto and two concerti grossi. With a reputation as peerless Handelians, Paul McCreesh and the Gabrieli Consort & players bring meticulous research to every performance and recording project, and are joined on this disc by a stunning selection of soloists.★★★★★ This is quite simply life-enhancing music making, a glorious achievement in every respect - Early Music Today ★★★★★ McCreesh finds all the expressive opportunities in a blissful production, at times breathtakingly beautiful - Choir & Organ ★★★★★ The choral elements are scrupulously handled by the Gabrieli Consort - BBC Music Magazine McCreesh's superb Gabrieli Consort and Players present all this...with flair, a pristine sense of style and infectious energy - The Times Handel's ravishing score [is] realised to perfection by Paul McCreesh and Gabrieli... A glorious recording - The Observer