• 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?.

  • Centred around Vaughan Williams' Songs of Travel, this collection of English song brings together three now influential figures in the world of British music – Vaughan Williams, his contemporary (in age rather than compositional approach) Roger Quilter, and the younger Gerald Finzi (whose work Let us Garlands Bring was composed to mark Vaughan Williams' 70th birthday). The texts used are drawn from a variety of source: from traditional 'Dorset' songs, through settings of Shakespere, to the central song-cycle of poetry by Robert Louis Stevenson.
     
    Baritone David John Pike has a widely varied repertoire covering early music, oratorio, symphonic, opera and commissioned works. In his native Canada, in the UK and across Europe, he has worked with leading ensembles including Glyndebourne Festival Opera, Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields, London Philharmonic and the Schweizerkammerchor under the direction of Christophers, Dutoit, Jurowski, Marriner, Mehta, Rattle and Zinman. He now has a growing reputation as an operatic and concert soloist.
     
  • Former King's Singer Bob Chilcott conducts a stellar array of his choral music, in a collaborative performance with the Wroclaw Philharmonic Choir. Described by the Observer as “a contemporary hero of British Choral Music”, Bob Chilcott works tirelessly as a composer and choral conductor - August 2012 saw the first performance of The Angry Planet in the BBC Proms at the Royal Albert Hall, and he has recently completed commissions for The Bach Choir, BBC Singers and National Youth Choir of Great Britain.
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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.

  • 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
  • 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”.
  • 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
  • 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 consonantseverythingJohn 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."
  • Tolstoy's Anna Karenina is a masterwork of 19th Century literature; a parable on the struggle for personal freedom against the conventions of a hostile society, played out in a tragic love-story. With a libretto by the distinguished director Colin Graham after the novel by Leo Tolstoy, David Carlson's opera vividly captures the drama and message of the original work. This double-disc set is a world premiere recording of the opera, with commanding performances from members of the Opera Theatre of Saint Louis and the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra conducted by Stewart Robertson. There is a lot to admire in this dramatic, expressive scoreOpera Now Magazine
  • Whether from his years touring Europe as a virtuoso pianist or from his later émigré life in Paris and Weimar, Franz Liszt reflects in his song texts his ‘polyglot’ attraction to 19th-Century culture, shown in these setting of French, German, Italian, English, Russian and Hungarian words.

     

     

  • Star tenor Andrew Kennedy is accompanied by Southbank Sinfonia in this collection of arias by three unique Classical-era composers. This disc showcases some of the best in young British musical talent, with rising star tenor Andrew Kennedy and Southbank Sinfonia, conducted by Simon Over. Their programme explores three phases of the Classical era, with early arias from Gluck, later classical works by Mozart, and the beginnings of Romanticism with Berlioz. Performance ★★★★ Recording ★★★★ The promise shown by Andrew Kennedy has been confirmed by his rapidly developing international career. His voice has grown in strength, well beyond the stereotypical 'English tenor' bleat - BBC Music Magazine Kennedy’s bright, firm tenor is equal to the demands of Gluck’s haute-contre parts. [Moreover], Simon Over and the Southbank Sinfonia are crystal-clear accompanists and the overture to Tito is splendid - The Times The Southbank Sinfonia plays vivaciously under Simon Over - The Daily Telegraph [Kennedy's voice] is always clear in definition and often, as in Pylades' aria and Tito's three solos, gracefully poised - Gramophone
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