• Britten’s extraordinary skill and fluency for setting his native language has sometimes obscured his flair for his settings of foreign poetry; some of his very finest are in German, Latin, Italian and Russian. Susan Gritton and Mark Padmore perform these songs with vigour, marvellously accompanied by Iain Burnside and do great justice to songs which many would regard as being the most distinctive and very finest examples of Britten’s art. ★★★★★ A powerfully eloquent performance - The Guardian ★★★★★ Flawless music-making of the first order - BBC Music Magazine ★★★★★ The superior qualityof the music-making here matches that of the music itself. A great album - Classic FM Magazine [An] ingenious programme - The Daily Telegraph Pianist Iain Burnside traverses this vast, impressive terrain with stylish ease - The Sunday Times Mark Padmore's singing of the Michelangelo Sonnets has all the grace of the young Pears without his mannerisms... Iain Burnside is a tower of strength throughout - The Sunday Telegraph
  • Julie Andrews frolicked across the Alps singing it in The Sound of Music and generations of children have learnt their musical scales by remembering it. Now Do-Re-Mi has been traced back more than 2000 years to one of the greatest poets of ancient Rome. According to a book to be published next month, the origins of the song lie far from the female deer and ray of golden sun in the Rodgers and Hammerstein version sung by Andrews to the von Trapp children. Instead it was penned as a mnemonic by a medieval Italian monk who drew on a melody which accompanied Horace's Ode to Phyllis, written in the 1st century BC. The research has been carried out by Stuart Lyons, who won a classics scholarship to King's College, Cambridge. "The monk who invented Do-Re-Mi told a lie about it because he didn't want to go to the stake (for heresy)," Lyons said. "The melody truly belonged to the Ode," said Lyons. "It is the most exciting thing that has ever happened to me in academic discovery. It is incredible to solve a mystery that is 1,000 years old. " A fascinating and highly recommended CD of the Ode’s first performance in modern times, performed by King’s Singer Christopher Gabbitas and lutenist David Miller - Musical Opinion Pleasantly performed by Christopher Gabbitas- of the King's Singers - and the excellent lutenist David Miller, the results are pleasant and intriguing listening - MusicWeb International  
  • Despite the tradition of passing folk songs from generation to the next, aurally, the Irish folk song had lost its importance somewhat in 19th century Ireland, but by the turn of the twentieth-century the revival of Ireland’s native music was coming to a head. Belfast-born Herbert Hughes set about collecting and distributing Irish airs. From there he began arranging the melodies for voice and piano, but at a lecture in Dublin pointed out the relationship between the original song, as sung by ‘the peasant, giving voice to an ancient tradition’ and the same song as put into print with a piano accompaniment. This original disc brings together both the old and the new, transforming the traditional folk song into an ‘art-song.’ The 25 folk songs tell of stories both happy and sad and make this disc as much a literary landscape, as a musical one with words by Thomas Moore & James Joyce. Beautifully performed by Ailish Tynan & Iain Burnside. ★★★★★ Soprano Ailish Tynan's feeling for the musical idiom and, above all, the poetry of her countrymen, matched by Burnside's delightfully poetic pianism, prove irresistible. Highly recommended - Classic FM  
  • Francis George Scott is a key figure in Scotland's musical history. Often referred to as Scotland's Hugo Wolf, his poetic settings draw on material from such writers as Robert Burns and Hugh McDiarmid to convey an extraordinary range of emotions and themes.

    This new recording featuring masterful performances by Lisa Milne, Roderick Williams and Iain Burnside helps to shed light on an often overlooked composer, whose work stems from both the spirit of his national identity and the tradition of the great European song composers.

    Including the works:
    Milkwort and Bog-cotton
    Country Life
    The Eemis Stane
    Moonstruck
    Amang the Treets
    Ay Waukin, O
    The Man in the Moon
    The Wee Man
    The Watergaw
    Te Deil o Bogie
  • Much loved mezzo-soprano, Susan Bickley, and fast-rising stars Ailish Tynan and Andrew Kennedy perform songs written by one of Britain's leading composers, Judith Weir

    With works ranging from minature to epic, these songs showcase the originality and talent of one of music's great storytellers. Superbly accompanied by Iain Burnside, these strong performances masterfully bring together Weir's diverse range of literary and musical influences from many international sources, including China, Africa and Serbia as well as her native Scotland.

  • Following Sarah Connolly's series of title roles at English National Opera, Glyndebourne and New York's Metropolitan Opera in 2005, this live recital was recorded at St. John's, Smith Square, London, having been premiered at Carnegie Hall earlier in the year. Accompanied by Eugene Asti, Sarah Connolly sings songs by Haydn, Brahms, Hahn, Korngold and Weill. Her distinctive, intelligent, warm, bright-sounding mezzo-soprano will be enjoyed by her growing 'army' of fans in this rich, romantic repertoire. Hugely impressive disc, testifying to the versatility and range of a singer who has already drawn comparisons with Janet Baker - The Guardian One of our most refined mezzos - The Observer Exquisitely articulated and accompanied - BBC Music Magazine A national treasure - The Evening Standard Connolly's lovely singing reaches to the sensuous core - The Daily Telegraph
  • Masses by Frye and Plummer from the Brussels 5557 manuscript. The manuscript Brussels 5557 was probably compiled for the marriage of Charles the Bold, Duke of Burgundy, and Margaret of York in July 1468. A number of illuminations, including one at the start of Missa Flos Regalis, develop a theme of chastity and fidelity which accords with the nuptial spirit. However, the music itself belongs to the 1450s or even earlier. These masses are the late-bottled vintage of a style which, in a poem of circa 1440, Martin le Franc refers to as 'la contenance angloise'. They are harmonically rich and fruity, but built to last. The two masses on this recording are complemented by motets by a third English composer, John Bedyngham.
  • This is the third disc recorded by The Clerks' Group for their Signum Records trilogy. The series explores repertoire in the medieval period and culminates with a selection of works by Guillaume Dufay, found in one of the great anthologies of 15th century music: the manuscript Bologna, Civico Museo Bibliografico Musicale, MS Q15 (or "Q15" as it is known by its friends). The Q15 manuscript contains examples of almost every conceivable musical genre of the period by a vast array of composers. The Clerks' Group has chosen to perform works by a single composer, but still the variety of forms and styles on offer is bewildering. Guillaume Dufay was a composer who witnessed and contributed to most of the revolutionary changes to occur in music composition in the 15th century. The album includes some of the earlier works so often neglected from Dufay's repertoire, and goes on to explore compositions that demonstrate this revolutionary genius. Some compositional techniques celebrated by The Clerks' Group's performance include the playful exchange of Dufay's song-like melodies between the vocal lines; and the use of mensural canon, where the same melody is sung by all voices but at slightly different speeds. These are just a few examples of the radical nature of Dufay's music as demonstrated on this recording. The Clerks' Group brings immense diversity to the music and its performance. Their refreshing approach displays sincere empathy and passion for this astonishing repertory. Unexpectedly dazzling...The Clerks' Group sing beautifully - The Sunday Times
  • Mille Fleurs’ debut recording for Signum Records is devoted to one of the treasured manuscripts of early music, the Codex Las Huelgas. This impressively large manuscript contains 170 parchment folios of works from the 13th and early 14th centuries. It was discovered by two monks early in the last century in the royal convent of Las Huelgas outside Burgos, Spain. It is unusual in several ways, encompassing a wide range of musical forms and styles, and being highly organised according to genre, liturgical function and number of voices. The codex reflects the devotional practices of a medieval Cistercian monastery, but it wasn't designed as a luxury object, rather, a pragmatic tool to be used as a source of reference or perhaps even for actual performance. This is an especially intriguing manuscript for music historians, performers and listeners alike. The pieces contained in the Las Huelgas manuscript reflect a wide range of Latin-texted music between 1200 and the first half of the 14th century. French influence is strong, illustrating the repertory as both international and local, imported, and adapted in a continual process of absorption and reinvention. Mille Fleurs bring a wealth of experience and research to these performances. Some pieces are performed as written; in others the notation provides a starting-point for musical elaboration. These charismatic singers do not believe female early music vocalists should sound like modern choirboys, but instead celebrate their different vocal timbres with each voice’s natural personality shining through. Just as the manuscript is pragmatic and adaptable as regards the notation of its musical repertory, so the performance approaches adopted and realised on this recording offer variety and flexibility, always respecting the nature of the piece. One thing is clear: throughout the Middle Ages the walls of the monastery of Las Huelgas resounded to the most highly refined and eloquently beautiful musical settings then in circulation in northern Spain. The performances are the epitome of sophisticated smoothness.... The recording impresses by its freshness and vigour, and by the excitement the singers clearly find in this fascinating repertoire - Gramophone The performances have a freedom which is refreshing as well as plausible. Highly recommended - Early Music Review Mille Fleurs interpret this varied collection with verve and vigour - Lyric FM
  • Signum Records are pleased to present a debut recording by the Brabant Ensemble, an Oxford-based ensemble with a strong reputation for sympathetic performance of early sacred music, focussing on the repertoire of the 16th century. Like many of even the most prolific and celebrated composers of the sixteenth century, Jacobus Clemens non Papa (‘not the Pope’) has offered the history books little factual material with which to work. In contrast to the paucity of biographical material, however, many sources of Clemens' music survive. Indeed, he is one of the most widely published musicians of the entire century with fifteen Masses, over two hundred motets, many Dutch psalms and French chansons to his name. This disc features the Mass Ecce quam bonum, which is based on Clemen’s own motet setting of Psalm 133, ‘Behold, how good and joyful a thing it is: brethren, to dwell together in unity!’ Apart from that on which the Mass setting is modelled, all of the motets on this disc are in five parts, although their textures are varied. Pascha nostrum sets the text of the Easter Anthem. The Song of Song’s motet Veni electa mea is highly characteristic of mid-sixteenth century spirituality, with the eroticism of the Song of Songs harnessed to provide a metaphor for the Church as bride of Christ. Accesserunt ad Jesum introduces Jesus’s admonition to the Pharisees concerning the estate of marriage. In Job tonso capite, a highly emotive narration of Job accepting his many trials, Clemen’s delivers an immediate approach to word-painting. The final piece on this disc, Carole, Magnus eras is a secular work: a state motet addressed to the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V and his son, Philip II of Spain. Since the text celebrates the achievements of the Emperor but promises even greater things under his son, it was probably composed at the time of Philip’s investiture as Regent of the Low Countries in 1549. The bell-like soprano sound is particularly attractive - Daily Telegraph Irresistible...it will change your life - Early Music Review An outstanding recording - International Record Review
  • A fascinating musical journey through the Italian arias of Mozart, from one of his earliest works Lucio Silla (composed when he was just 16) through to his final Italian opera La Clemenza di Tito. The English tenor Jeremy Ovenden has established himself as being among the best Mozart tenors of his generation (notably in the role of Don Ottavio) and has become a familiar figure on the stages of the world's opera houses and concert halls and at major festivals. He is joined for this, his first solo recording, by the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment and conductor Jonathan Cohen. ★★★★  Ovenden proves complete master of his chosen repertory … for its artistic use, and for the close partnership Ovenden achieves with the OAE under Jonathan Cohen, l have only admiration - BBC Music Magazine The fine tenor … sings with an engaging commitment to these joyous creations. A delightful selection - The Observer A most imaginative idea … his rhythm, diction and easy flexibility of voice are exemplary - The Sunday Times
  • International award-winning octet Voces8 has established itself as the foremost young British a cappella vocal group. Performing a repertoire ranging from Renaissance polyphony to unique jazz and pop arrangements, the group has been praised for stunning performance, exquisite singing and creating a sound that spans the entire range of vocal colour. A Choral Tapestry explores the rich vocal timbres of sacred vocal music spanning five centuries. Interweaving genres create an ethereal sonic tapestry that centres around the haunting beauty of William Byrd's Mass for Four Voices. The programme includes anthems and motets from the English Chapel Royal, the Sistine Chapel in Rome and St. Thomas' Church, Leipzig. VOCES8 are as good as any vocal ensemble I have heard for many a year and the material on this CD is well chosen and superbly sung - Cross Rhythms Following their Bach Motets, choral octet Voces8 branch further afield with A Choral Tapestry, programming devotional material from across the spectrumThe Independent
  • 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 grammy-award winning artist Hila Plitmann is known worldwide for her astonishing musicianship, light and beautiful voice, and the ability to perform challenging new works. On this disc she brings together a very personal programme that draws on her familial roots in Jewish culture and song; from traditional folk music (Five Yiddish Songs), to contemporary compositions (Bridges of Love, Tehilim and I Never Saw Another Butterfly). The disc also features the Five Hebrew Love Songs, with poetry by Plitmann set to music by the composer Eric Whitacre. Performance ★★★★ Recording ★★★★ Plitmann's selection is carefully chosen for maximum variety ofexpression and instrumentation [and] Julian Bliss proves a sensitive partner to the charismatic Plitmann BBC Music Magazine Julian Bliss threatens to steal the show on clarinet, but there’s beauty in the voice and enough variety in the works to keep the ears attentiveLa Scena Musicale
  • 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
  • In this live recording from the Royal Festival Hall the OAE shines its musical torch into the realms of some later repertoire, shedding new light on the music of Mahler. Conducted by Principal Artist Vladimir Jurowski, this CD includes Mahler’s Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen (Songs of a Wayfarer), written in the wake of an unhappy affair with a soprano, and the extraordinarily exciting and powerful Totenfeier, Mahler’s first foray into orchestral music, and later reworked into the opening movement of his second symphony.
    The OAE's period instruments emphasise its rawness, just as they point up the anguished detail of the accompaniments to the Lieder eines Fahrenden Gesellen, in which mezzo Sarah Connolly allows the words and Mahler's treatment of them to speak for themselves, without unnecessary gilding - The Guardian Vladimir Jurowski’s brisk and thrusting account with the period instrument players of the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment makes a strong case for the composer’s original thoughts - The Irish Times