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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
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
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."
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.
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.
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
Cantabile (also known as ‘The London Quartet’) have been wowing audiences across the world since the 1980s with their shows that blend performance flair, comic timing and a deep passion for high-quality vocal music. This album is an eclectic tribute to the very British obsession that is cricket, bringing together works from the turn of the century (school songs from Harrow and Eton) to the present day (Jiggery Pokery from the 2009 Ivor Novello nominated album The Duckworth-Lewis Method) – as well as from the well-known (Roy Harper’s When an Old Cricketer Leaves the Crease) to the obscure (The Summer Game, from Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s little-known musical Cricket, commissioned for the Queen’s 60th Birthday). Featuring guest performances from the likes of Richard Stilgoe, Rory Bremner and Tim Rice, this album should prove a must-buy for cricket- and music-fans alike.
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
The initial impetus for Songs of Innocence came from Andrew Swait who was extremely keen to investigate repertoire rarely sung by a treble; indeed, several of the songs featured are world premiere recordings.
After rehearsals with Andrew Plant in the summer of 2007, Andrew Swait’s immense enthusiasm for Britten’s unpublished student works was soon evident and is as evident in this fresh recording a year on. A wonderful collaboration of English and American 20th century song.
A chorister of Cheltenham College and former chorister of the Abbey School Tewkesbury, Andrew Swait (b.1994) has already enjoyed an extremely successful solo career, performing as principal soloist on Light of the World (SIGCD068) in 2005 and appearing as a soloist with choirs around Britain and Europe.
Since her American debut in the early nineties, Silvia Tro Santafé has become one of the most sought after coloratura mezzos of her generation. On this disc we hear the proof of her operatic talents, performing some of the greatest and most passionate arias of any operatic mezzo soprano. Though Silvia Tro Santafé is no newcomer in the recording stakes this was my first encounter with her and this recital has definitely whetted the appetite for more - MusicWeb International
The King's Singershave combined one of the greatest vocal compositions of all time with modern recording technology and customary style to produce a truly stunning recording of Thomas Tallis' Spem in alium. This is a unique opportunity to hear every part in Spem sung and recorded to perfection, with the six King's Singers dividing the forty parts of Spem in alium between them, in this multi-track recording the disc is in full surround sound, and is a CD/SACD hybrid. This disc can be played on any standard CD or SACD player. In addition, there is a 4.0 surround-sound mix on the SACD layer. A bold and fascinating performance - Classic FM So impressive - Choir & Organ
Signum Records presents a world first – a CD single, from a new edition of the magnificent 40-part Thomas Tallis motet Spem in Alium and the English version Sing and Glorify. Spem in alium is surely not just the greatest of all Thomas Tallis’ musical achievements, but one of the great musical compositions of all time. Writing for 40 independent voices, Thomas Tallis created a noble and imaginative masterpiece. The earliest surviving manuscript of this great work, the Egerton manuscript, is laid out with an English rendition, Sing and glorify heaven’s high majesty. The English words are not a translation of the Latin, but a new poem written as a syllable-for-syllable replacement. A fine recording as well, beautifully captured in the wide open spaces of All Hallows Church - BBC Radio 3 Record Review Their interpretation at times almost touches the visionary - Gramophone Not only does Alistair Dixon shape the music beautifully, but he has a first-rate team of singers who respond to the music’s every nuance - Goldberg
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
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
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
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 attentive - La Scena Musicale