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Signum Records is delighted to announce that the choir of Magdalen College Oxford will release their first disc with Signum in early 2003. Entitled The Songs of Angels the disc will consist of repertoire written by the distinguished 15th and 16th century Magdalen Informator Choristarum. These young choral scholars are an impressive group of musicians - BBC Radio 3 Record Review A superb release, as much for its historical interest as for the unarguable excellence of the music-making - Gramophone
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.
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.
Erich Korngold is perhaps best known as the pioneering émigré composer whose grand orchestral scores defined the sound of film during the golden age of Hollywood. As well as this though, his output for voice in the form of Lieder and Song highlighted the strong bond that Korngold forever held with his homeland and the city of Vienna, a place inextricably linked to the High-Romantic style that Korngold so ably perfected. This collection of songs and lieder are beautifully performed by Sarah Connolly (mezzo-soprano) and William Dazeley (baritone), accompanied by renowned pianist and broadcaster Iain Burnside. In a feature for BBC Music Magazine in June 2013, Sarah Connolly picked this disc as her favourite recording, saying: "We recorded this in the lovely Potton Hall in East Anglia. I was in very fresh voice, and the producer John West was very encouraging and left me to my own devices. But when listened to the playback I couldn't believe how closely miked I sounded - you could hear the formation of consonants, everything. John said 'Don't worry, we've got it in hand, we'll make it sound right.' When listened to the final recording I couldn't believe how clean it sounded. I now use it as an example of how I'd like my voice to sound."
A lyrical collection of chamber works for tenor and guitar – Sometime I Sing unites Gramophone award-winning tenor Mark Padmore with Mexican guitarist Morgan Szymanski in settings of texts by Thomas Wyatt, Vikram Seth, John Donne and Edward Thomas by the composer Alec Roth. Roth is a UK-based composer who works across a wide range of musical genres, including stage works, vocal, choral, orchestral, instrumental, and Javanese gamelan – his former posts include Founder/Director of the Royal Festival Hall Gamelan Programme and Southbank Gamelan Players; Music Director of the Baylis Programme, English National Opera; and Associate Composer, Opera North. A superb disc of music by a prolific and successful composer who has eschewed the passing modernisms of our days. ... this is a disc which deserves widest distribution and take up on radio programmes - Musical Pointers With the elegant guitarist Morgan Szymanski, one of Britain's finest tenors explores song settings by Alec Roth. Poems by Vikram Seth are treated mysteriously: slow-moving harmonies, evocative lyrical lines. The 16th·century poet Thomas Wyatt is set more playfully, as befits his wry epigrams on love, lust and mortality. And a bonus: English folksongs, arranged as artfully as Britten did - The Times
Signum Records present a special CD release from the King’s Singers, celebrating over 35 years of popular repertoire that has left audiences delighted across the globe. Formed in 1968 by six Choral Scholars from King’s College, Cambridge, the King’s Singers quickly became a prominent musical force in the UK. The rest of the world soon followed so that today the group’s engagements are spread throughout the four corners of the globe. The ensemble are renowned for their commitment to blend balance and intonation in their performances, but above all it is their simple enjoyment of what they do that has captured the imagination of the public, and kept the King’s Singers at the top of their game for over three and a half decades. This album presents six pieces performed by the six vocalists over the years. The titles were selected to span the life of the group so far: After the explosive rock decade of the 1960s in which the group was founded, you can almost hear the hair lengthen in Neil Young’s 1970 song After the Goldrush. This was originally sung by the group with Nana Mouskouri on her BBC TV show, and has remained popular ever since; Irving Berlin’s much-loved jazz classic Blue Skies is here sung in a cool and reflective arrangement by Richard Rodney Bennett; the Beatle’s Blackbird is one of the most requested encores happily sung to ecstatic audiences, and Daryl Runswick’s arrangement perfectly maintains the feel of the original song. The remaining three tracks are all newly recorded pieces from the 21st century. Down to the River to Pray, a spiritual, appeared in the Coen brothers movie “O Brother Where art Thou?”; Billy Joel’s Lullaby Goodnight My Angel is an example of the songwriter at his lyric best. Finally, The Wishing Tree was commissioned by the King’s Singers and the BBC for the 2002 Proms, celebrating the present Queen’s Golden Jubilee. Joby Talbot, formerly of The Divine Comedy, was asked to compose a work in which to reflect Queen Elizabeth II’s life, as well as incorporating a 16th century madrigal-element, in reference to the reign of the first Queen Elizabeth. Six new tracks from the lads with the voices of spun gold. The irresistible verve of this much-changed group's mid-1970s peak is less evident, but for sheer polish and style these singers are truly 'kings' - BBC Music Magazine Think gorgeous close harmony, think crossover-with-integrity, and enjoy - Classic FM Magazine
2012 marks the 15th anniversary of the first release from the leading independent classical label Signum Records. Beginning life as an early music specialist, Signum has grown since 1997 to a catalogue of over 300 releases across a wide range of genres, featuring a number of world-class artists including:
- A Cappella and Choral Music (The King's Singers, Tenebrae, VOCES8, The Swingle Singers, Rodolfus Choir)
- Orchestral and Chamber Music (Philharmonia Orchestra, London Sinfonietta, Gabrieli Consort & Players, OAE, LCO, Smith Quartet),
- Instrumental Soloist Recitals (Jamie Walton, Alessio Bax, Matthew Barley, Llyr Williams, James Rhodes)
- Art song and Lieder (Iain Burnside, Malcolm Martineau, John Mark Ainsley, Mark Padmore, Ailish Tynan, Felicity Lott, Sarah Connolly, Jonathan Lemalu)
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
Signum Classics are proud to release the King's Singers fifth disc on Signum; Sacred Bridges. For thousands of years, the biblical Psalter has been the liturgical “heart” of the three main book religions: Judaism, Christianity and Islam. The Psalms announce the word of God and, simultaneously, contain the full range of human experience. Jews, Christians and Muslims sing and listen to the same songs of lament and joy, confessions of sin, hymns of praise and adoration. In this project of the King’s Singers and Sarband, psalm settings by composers from three religions give an example of how psalms can be a source of spirituality, a political instrument, a link between tradition and modernity and, above all, a bridge connecting human beings. Immaculate blend, perfect tuning and crystal diction ... Superb performances across the cultural divide show that great art transcends political differences - The Times A fascinating, attractive, beautifully performed-album - Gramophone Perfectly judged and beautifully blended sound - Classic FM Magazine An intriguing disc, and far more than a curiosity - Early Music Review A real gift to ... music lovers that need a special musical holiday gift - Mid West Record Recap
On a new disc to celebrate the 2012 Diamond Jubilee, The King's Singers present a selection of works from the past 500 years written in honour of the great Monarchs of Britain. Starting with works for (and in some cases by) Henry VIII, the programme covers the Elizabethan 'Triumphs of Oriana' by composers such as Gibbons, Mundy and Dowland; a very Victorian selection of dedicatory works by Elgar, Parry and Parratt; choral arrangements from the opera 'Glorianna' by Benjamin Britten; and a new piece by Paul Drayton that comically pens 'A Rough Guide to the Royal Succession'. Drayton is perhaps best known to fans of The King's Singers as the composer of their much-loved encore work Masterpiece. A notably intelligent, enjoyable Jubilee offering - BBC Music Magazine Premier English a cappella group provides its own celebrations in Jubilee Year - New Zealand Herald
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.Susan Gritton's delivery of the three arias has an exquisite balance of grace and intensity befitting their spurned heroines - The Independent
If it were not for the operas of Gioachino Rossini, the operatic repetory of the mezzo soprano would lack some of its most interesting characters and music. Silvia Tro Santafé proves herself a true ‘Rossini Mezzo’ in this collection of scenes and arias, accompanied by the excellent Orquesta Sinfónica de Narvarra and Lluís Vich Vocalis. This voice is one fine instrument, at times as luxuriant as rippling grey silk, at others glinting like flexible metal, always thoroughly enjoyable as pure sound - Opera Magazine A most impressive recital - The Gramophone Tro Santafé's unique vocal qualities illuminate the music with fresh colors and interpretive accents … this is an excellent disc that more than stands up to the competition - MusicalCriticism.com
Sir Michael Tippett's great masterpieces - Boyhood's End and The Heart's Assurance - are coupled here with some of his editions of songs by Henry Purcell, and Benjamin Britten's companion piece to Boyhood's End - Canticle 1. Superbly performed by John Mark Ainsley and Iain Burnside, an added treat is the performance of Tippett and Bergman's edition of Pelham Humfrey's setting of John Donne's A Hymn to God the Father.
John Mark Ainsley is one of the world's leading tenors. He has worked with the Berlin Philharmonic, New York Philharmonic and the Vienna Philharmonic, and has appeared with the San Fransisco Opera, and as Der Daemon in the world premiere of Henze's L'Upupa.
Iain Burnside has performed with artists including Dame Margaret Price and Susan Chilcott. As a broadcaster he has recently won a Sony Radio Award.
Remember Your Lovers
Sir Michael Tippett
John Mark Ainsley Tenor
Iain Burnside Piano
Composing over 150 works for piano and voice over a period of 44 years, the songs of Francis Poulenc remain consistently popular to concert audiences the world over. Varying in their individual style and character in a way that defies generalization, Poulenc set music to a wide range of different French poetry – both ancient and modern, and from the serious to the surreal. The final disc in Signum’s series of The Complete Songs of Francis Poulenc features a cast of the finest singers of our generation, accompanied by Malcolm Martineau as well as additional instrumental soloists for Poulenc’s larger-ensemble settings of his songs.
Featured works in this final volume include Rapsodie Negre, Le Bestiaire, Quatre poe?mes de Max Jacob, Vocalise, Quatre poemes d’Apollinaire, Banalite?s and Le Bal Masque?.
Composing over 150 works for piano and voice over a period of 44 years, the songs of Francis Poulenc remain consistently popular to concert audiences the world over. Varying in their individual style and character in a way that defies generalization, Poulenc set music to a wide range of different French poetry – both ancient and modern, and from the serious to the surreal. This is the fourth release in our series that will build to encompass the complete songs of Francis Poulenc – performed by some of the greatest singers of the day and accompanied by the exceptional Malcolm Martineau.
Composing over 150 works for piano and voice over a period of 44 years, the songs of Francis Poulenc remain consistently popular to concert audiences the world over. Varying in their individual style and character in a way that defies generalization, Poulenc set music to a wide range of different French poetry – both ancient and modern, and from the serious to the surreal.
This second release in a new series charts the complete songs of Francis Poulenc, performed by some of the greatest singers of the day and accompanied by the exceptional Malcolm Martineau.
Praise for the first disc includes:
"Lisa Milne performs wonderfully throughout this Poulenc disc. She really sings the French as to the Manoir born … A nicely balanced and arranged recital for all of these voices, so a promising start to this new Poulenc series."
Hilary Finch and Andrew McGregor, CD Review, BBC Radio 3