• Gesualdo

    £12.00
    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
  • Gaudete

    £5.00
    Arranged by Classic FM's Hall of Fame 2004 'top-ten-composer' Karl Jenkins, sung by crack professional choir - Tenebrae - Gaudete is released on SignumClassics both with drums and percussion and as a pure, unadulterated, a cappella version Founded as recently as 2001, Tenebrae has been embraced by the public and critics alike as one of the most innovative and gifted groups in Britain. Tenebrae’s motto is “passion and precision”, but they also believe in accessibility, performing various different types of music as long as it’s good music, sung well. Gaudete (“rejoice”) is an anonymous composition that was first published in 1582 in a collection of carols and other religious songs called Piae Cantiones. This collection, made by a Scandinavian called Peter Nyland, included a huge number of other Christmas melodies that have since become ‘standards’, but it only gives music for the chorus of Gaudete; the verses, which tell of the wonder of God’s arrival on earth in human form, have been taken from a Czech medieval song about the Virgin Mary, Ezechielis Porta.
  • Described by The Times as a group that has “stayed in character over four decades, yet returned itself to the times” and by Gramophone as “enchanting the ear from first to last note” The King’s Singers are truly remarkable They continue to be one of the most sought-after and critcally acclaimed vocal ensembles in the world, performing a rich and varied repertoire from Gesualso to György lIgeti and Michael Bublé. With a discography of over 100 recordings The King’s Singers have garnered both awards and significant critical acclaim. Their recent studio album Simple Gifts was awarded a Grammy in 2009. The coming year will see the release in the UK of The King’s Singers new album Swimming Over London, a disc that crosses genre borders in a way similar to Simple Gifts, using smooth jazz as the inspiration for new pieces and arrangements with the King’s Singers signature style and standards. The King's Singers have, as their many fans will testify, astonishing technical facility, and bring artistry to much of the music in their wide-ranging repertoire - BBC Music Magazine They've been going for over 40 years but they still sound as fresh as when they started. Some lovely arrangements, including Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah and [John Brunning's] Pie Jesu - Classic FM Magazine
  • For You

    £18.00
    For You is a new opera that brings together the music of composer and BBC Radio 3 presenter Michael Berkeley and Booker-prize winning author Ian McEwan. This gripping tale of love, lust and obsession centers on the composer and prodigious womanizer Charles Frieth (Alan Opie), and the tragic consequences that his selfish actions cause him and those around. Although essentially dark, there are moments of irony, wit, and humour throughout the opera. Soaring vocal lines, intricate ensemble pieces, and imaginative instrumental writing make this an electrifying work. Masterly performed by Music Theatre Wales, directed by Michael Rafferty.
    The music, conducted here by Michael Rafferty, is energetic, deftly coloured and carefully balanced, allowing the excellent voices, including Alan Opie’s Frieth, to make their due markThe Sunday Times It bristles with wit and lyricism, while giving other composers and librettists a lesson in how to drape operativ tradition in modern clothesThe Financial Times Berkeley’s score is lively, abrasive and strongly crafted … the performance (recorded live) is focused, with excellent orchestral playing and a strong central performance by Alan Opie -  The Daily Telegraph
  • In recent years, Patrick Hawes has emerged as one of the country’s most popular and inspirational composers. Born in Lincolnhire, he studied music as an organ scholar at Durham University, and soon went on to make an impact in the world of choral music. ★★★★★ Patrick Hawes has carved out a niche as a contemporary composer who writes melodic, atmospheric and, frankly, beautiful music - Gramophone Hawes’s admirers will find much here to confirm their warm response to his music’s quiet strength and individuality... The excellent performances feature the tawny loveliness of Julian Lloyd Webber’s cello-playing, plus two fine solo singers - Classic FM Magazine
  • Emilia

    £12.00
    Emilia is one of the most promising new talents of her generation, and in her short career has already performed before illustrious figures such as Princess Anne and Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Aged 11 when this disc was recorded, Emilia is one of Signum Record’s youngest artists. Emilia made her debut singing Rule Britannia at The Sail for Gold Ball 2004 when she was just nine. Since then she has completed a full-time chorister post at Salisbury Cathedral, leaving in July 2008 with a music scholarship. During this period she has sung in Venice (San Marco), performing in many of the Great Cathedrals of Tuscany and a tour of Vienna and Salzburg. The young soprano sings a selection of traditional folk tunes including The Last Rose of Summer and Steal Away, alongside Handel’s Laschia ch’io Pianga and IF by Michael Nyman, who proclaimed Emilia’s technique and sound as being “absolutely gorgeous”.
  • Dreamscape

    £12.00
    A unique programme of works by father and daughter. Sir Andrzej Panufnik was a leading Polish composer of the 20th Century, and his daughter Roxanna has made a name for herself in her own right as a contemporary composer in the 21st. This disc, programmed by Roxanna to combine works by both her and her father, explores the parallels between their two musical languages and forms a touching tribute to Andrzej from his daughter.
    This is intensely personal music-making, beautifully performedThe Observer
  • 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
  • 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.
  • 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
  • As part of the celebration Britten's Centenery in 2013, this new recording presents Britten's five Canticles, performed by tenor Ben Johnson with James Baillieu accompanying. Ben Johnson describes his attraction to these works in his self-penned notes for the disc: "Each is deep with meaning or subversion, a trademark of Britten’s music to a modern audience. In their very performance they glide through such variety of style that it makes them wonderfully difficult to categorise. They are song, opera, cantata and chamber music, and so they correspond with the most delicate of intimacy and to the most effective of grand gesture … In his biography of Britten, Humphrey Carpenter points out the close links between the Canticles and Britten’s operas. This answers in part their difference from the ‘usual’ song repertoire: their religious flavour (a stronger taste in some than others) mixed with the circumstances of their composition make for a unique strand in Britten’s output." A superb collection containing some of the most intensely beautiful of all Britten's vocal writing - The Guardian Released as part of the celebration of Britten’s centenary, this CD comes highly recommended - The Northern Echo
  • VOCES8 and Les Inventions shine a light on a hidden musical treasure in these world-premiere recordings of Charles Avison’s 1757 adaptation of Benedetto Marcello’s Estro-poetico armonico. A fresh and original collection, Marcello’s Psalm settings were composed in Venice and quickly found fame across Europe after their publication between 1724 and 1726. ★★★★★ The results are wholly delightful and absorbing, and the intimate forces of VOCES8 and Les Inventions are completely at home in this repertoire - Choir & Organ ★★★★ With their vivid word-setting and lively declamation, the English texts give a slightly homespun quality to the enterprise. Well sung, there's a striking triple canon with Latin text to finish - The Observer ★★★★ Marcello's masterpiece receives...world premiere recording here by VOCES8, accompanied by the organ, recorder and strings of French early-music ensemble Les Inventions - The Independent Very polished - BBC Radio 3 CD Review A nice variety of vocal colours and a lovely blend make for a convincing representation of Marcello's largely unknown masterpiece Estro poetico-armonico. More please - Early Music Review
  • 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
  • The first in a two part set of Beethoven's Lieder und Gesänge. Beethoven himself was not a keen song writer, yet despite this almost half of his total works call for a voice. This disc includes some of the best of those compositions. Ann Murray has appeared with some of the world's greatest orchestras and conductors, her discography reflects both her broad concert and operatic repertoire and also her great operatic roles. Roderick Williams is active in the opera house, on the concert platform and in recital, encompassing a repertoire from baroque to world premieres. He has performed with all BBC orchestras and other acclaimed ensembles internationally. Iain Burnside enjoys a unique reputation as pianist and broadcaster and is most recognised for his collaborations with leading international singers. This will be Iain's sixth disc with Signum Classics. ★★★★ Williams’s subtle baritone adapts to each challenge. Joining him, the rich toned mezzo, Ann Murray, is also fine, particularly in the four subtly different versions of Goethe’s Sehnsucht - The Times ★★★★ Iain Burnside provides vivid accompaniments - BBC Music Magazine  
  • The second in a two part set of Beethoven's Lieder und Gesänge, with the luminous collaboration between the tenor, John Mark Ainsley and his accompanist Iain Burnside. Beethoven himself was not a keen song writer, yet despite this almost half of his total works call for a voice. This disc includes some of the best of those compositions. John Mark Ainsley is accomplished as both a concert and operatic vocalist, performing at some of the most well renowned venues in the world. As well as having great experience and success as a live artist he also benefits from an extensive discography which covers repertoire from Bach to Stravinsky. Iain Burnside enjoys a unique reputation as pianist and broadcaster and is most recognised for his collaborations with leading international singers. This will be Iain's seventh disc with Signum Classics. There is something monumental about John Mark Ainsley’s Beethoven. Iain Burnside’s fluid playing is delightful, while Ainsley’s artistry is fascinating - The Independent John Mark Ainsley’s instinctive musicianship at its best, perhaps, in ‘An Die Ferne Geliebte’, ‘To A Distant Beloved’, or as the poetic translation in the booklet would have it,’ To My Dear Girl, So Far Away’ - BBC Radio 3 Record Review John Mark Ainsley’s delivery is faultless, his masterly control of the line revealing profound emotion in these often under-estimated gems; Burnside’s piano parts are beautifully judged, too. This joins the Goerne as one of the finest lieder recordings I have heard in years. Put them at the top of your list - Klassisk Musikkmagasin
  • Voces8 return to disc with this new recording of J.S.Bach's Motets, BWV 225-230. Joined by the Senesino Players, this young group prove their versatility and skill in performing some of Bach's most challenging and engaging compositions. The singing is crisp and accurate … The period performance movement has demonstrated how to bring life and energy back to Bach's choral textures, but none of the big names have produced anything that is quite as much fun as this - MusicWeb International One can only marvel at the group's remarkable collective skill and cohesion - Fanfare Magazine