• As 2014 heralds the composer’s 80th year, Harrison Birtwistle remains one of the most popular voices in contemporary composition in the UK and beyond. This new collection of premiere recordings draws together recent commissions with older works to mark the occasion, with characteristically flawless performances from the BBC Singers under Nicholas Kok. They are joined on this disc by the Nash Ensemble and baritone Roderick Williams.

    Best Classical CDs of 2014 The Guardian ★★★★★ Recorded after a memorable Proms UK premiere last year, The Moth Requiem is one of Birtwistle's most austerely beautiful works ... The Ring Dance of the Nazarene, featuring a standout contribution from Williams, is similarly striking, as are performances and recording - Classical Music Magazine Birtwistle’s characteristic melodic angularity and rhythmic complexity are duly represented in six pieces written between 1965 and 2012, including two strikingly evocative recent triumphs — the buoyantly mystic Ring Dance of the Nazarene and the shadowy, haunting Moth Requiem — with all of it sung supremely well - The New York Times Birtwistle is scaling new heights just now, and the elegiacMoth Requiem transports us to a sonic world of beguiling mystery. These singers have his music in their bones, presenting it with precision and sensitivity, be it the stark, monumental Carmen Paschale, a glistening gem of a Lullaby or the dynamic Ring Dance of the Nazarene- BBC Music Magazine
  • 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  
  • 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.
  • One of the UK’s leading choral directors for over 50 years, Stephen Wilkinson MBE has led both professional and amateur choirs across Europe, and is particularly renowned for his work with the BBC Northern Singers and the William Byrd Singers of Manchester. Only retiring from conducting in 2009 at the age of 90, Stephen Wilkinson’s songs span the breadth of his long career as a conductor and musician, and are best described by his daughter Clare – an acclaimed mezzo-soprano herself who also performs on this recording – as being “a unique voice, yet deeply rooted in the English song tradition of Finzi, Gurney and Quilter.” Performed by British singers Mhairi Lawson, Clare Wilkinson, James Gilchrist and Matthew Brook, they draw on texts by a wealth of sources including Auden, Yates, Coleridge, Shakespeare and many more. Highly persuasive English lyricism… a worthwhile labour of love - The Guardian There are fine things here…. strikingly original…. rooted in textual detail - Gramophone Drawing on texts from the likes of Auden, Yates, Coleridge and Shakespeare, this is a must for devoteesNorthern Echo The English song tradition continues to bear fruit [and] Wilkinson takes his place in the canon - MusicWeb International  
  • Signum Records is delighted to announce the completion of Chapelle du Roi's recordings of the complete works of Thomas Tallis. This major project has taken seven years to complete. It was the brain child of Alistair Dixon and brought to fruition jointly by Chapelle du Roi and the engineering and production company Floating Earth.
  • Chapelle du Roi devote this latest volume to music which was composed by Tallis for use during the reformed services announced in The booke of the common prayer which came into effect on Whitsunday (9th June) 1549. Tallis’s music, together with the associated intonations and Collects (for Easter Day at Mattins and for Christmas Eve), is presented for this recording in the normal liturgical sequence for the day; Mattins, Holy Communion, and Evensong. The recording concludes with Tallis’ nine psalm-tune harmonisations which he contributed to Archbishop Matthew Parker’s Psalter, published in 1567. Chapelle du Roi give an inspired and historically informed performance of the sacred renaissance repertoire for which they are celebrated. Sung with plaintive simplicity, exquisite balance and clear diction, virtues that characterise the whole estimable disc - Classic FM Magazine [The singers] cohere in a warm collective that is wonderful to listen to - International Record Review Chapelle du Roi's skill is manifest ... the whole experience of listening to them was like hearing was like hearing a rather special evensong in a college chapel - Gramophone The singing of the Chapelle is as beautifully flawless as ever ... the crowning glory of the disc is the exquisite account of Tallis nine tunes of Archbishop Parker's Psalter - EMF Scotland  
  • Signum Records are delighted to release the seventh volume of their celebrated nine-disc series, presenting the Complete Works of Thomas Tallis (1505 - 1585). Queen Elizabeth’s reign (1558-1603) was a golden age for the arts. England enjoyed a growing cultural exchange with continental Europe. England’s rich, but essentially conservative pre-Reformation heritage was infused with increasing continental influence and innovations. Elizabeth I was the fourth monarch to sit on the throne in Thomas Tallis’s lifetime. From the outset of her reign Elizabeth allowed considerable freedom of practice and belief. She was firmly in favour of a vernacular liturgy for the general population, although in her own chapels she preferred a more lavish ceremony to music. Tallis had witnessed the wholesale destruction of much of England’s church music tradition, however the ever adaptable composer met the challenges of a new liturgy, its new styles and genres, with the imaginative force of a man half his age. The years of Reformation, and Elizabeth’s protestant settlement, freed the Latin-texted tradition of liturgical propriety, allowing composers to reinvigorate the language and harness it to new, expressive and personal ends. This recording presents Tallis’s Elizabethan Latin motets (which number fifteen). The mighty occasional piece, the forty-voice motet Spem in alium, concludes the disc. The Tallis complete works is one of the most exciting projects currently underway on any early music label. Thoroughly recommended - Early Music Scotland Alistair Dixon paces and balances the voices of his vocal group Chapelle du Roi beautifully - The Evening Standard  
  • Signum Records are proud to present the eighth and penultimate volume of Chapelle du Roi’s recording of the Complete Works of Thomas Tallis. This volume brings together Tallis’s two masterly settings of the Lamentations of Jeremiah and English adaptations of several of his best-known Latin motets. Thomas Tallis was one of many continental and English composers who composed settings of texts from the Lamentations of Jeremiah, the opening five verses of which formed part of the office of Matins (or Tenebrae) during Holy Week. Tallis’s two settings could have been performed ritually but in all likelihood they are Elizabethan works intended for use at the private devotions of staunch Catholic sympathisers. The statutory introduction of the First Book of Common Prayer on Whitsunday, 9th June 1549 precipitated an urgent need for a repertory of service music in the vernacular. One straightforward solution to the predicament was to adapt existing Latin motets to English texts, a genre of composition that has come to be known as a contrafactum. Contrafacta survive of liturgical music by pre-Reformation English composers as well as by several composers whose working life spanned the period of Reformation. During the Elizabethan and Jacobean periods contrafacta and their models assumed several forms of dual existence, and were performed not only within a liturgical setting but also in a domestic context for recreation or private devotion. Usually there is no textual relationship between the model and the contrafactum. Indeed the finale of this disc, Sing & Glorify heaven’s high majesty, an adaptation of Tallis’s celebrated eight-choir (40-part) motet Spem in alium was adapted to celebrate Prince Henry’s investiture as Prince of Wales in 1610. Chapelle du Roi succeed in conveying a sense of spaciousness and grandeur - The Daily Telegraph
  • Voyages

    £12.00
    Soprano Mary Bevan and pianist Jopseph Middleton perform a programme exploring the genius of Baudelaire and Goethe, and how texts by them unlocked very speci c musical landscapes in settings by Debussy, Duparc, Chausson, de Bréville, Séverac, Fauré and Schubert. Praised by Opera for her “dramatic wit and vocal control” in stand out performances on opera and concert platforms, Mary Bevan is a winner of the Royal Philharmonic Society’s Young Artist award and UK Critics’ Circle Award for Exceptional Young Talent
    Pianist Joseph Middleton specialises in the art of song accompaniment and chamber music and has been highly acclaimed within this eld. Described in the BBC Music Magazine as “one of the brightest stars in the world of song and Lieder”, he has also been labeled “the cream of the new generation” by The Times and “a perfect accompanist” by Opera Now. ★★★★ A beautiful programme… they include plenty of intriguing and little-known songs that more than deserve these excellent interpretations - Primephonic Bevan’s purity of tone and discreet yet telling way with words can be by turns unnerving and alluring in the Baudelaire settings… Middleton, as one might expect, is marvellously insightful, playing throughout with weight as well as grace and subtlety - Gramophone
  • Classical Opera explore a wealth of arias by Handel and his contemporaries William Boyce, John Christopher Smith and Thomas Arne, all of which were composed for the celebrated 18th-century tenor John Beard (1716-1791). For this recording Allan Clayton steps ably into this role, performing alongside the Orchestra of Classical Opera under Ian Page. The disc also features a duet with Mary Bevan, from Handel’s L’Allegro, il Penseroso ed il Moderato.
    ★★★★ Rousing renditions - The Times A must for early music devoteesGramophone A delight... I cannot recommend it too highly - Classic FM The outstanding young tenor [John Beard] fulfils his early promise - The Sunday Times
  • 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.
     
  • 11-year-old Alice lives in the not terribly exciting town of Grimthorpe. On a boring Wednesday in the summer holidays Alice’s family, wandering around town, gets caught in a downpour. They rush into the nearest shelter, which turns out to be a pet shop – much to Alice’s parents’ delight. Alice is lost in a daydream of exotic holidays... Suddenly she is jolted out of her reverie by one of the animals – a white rabbit – who starts talking to her... Opera Holland Park’s production of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, a family opera by composer Will Todd and librettist Maggie Gottlieb, comes to CD for the first time after two critically praised runs in 2013 and 2014.
    The cast sing with impeccable diction, the players never drowning out the voicesArts Desk The cast, headed by Fflur Wun as Alice, and orchestra, conducted by Matthew Waldren, put on a good show - Gramophone Will Todd's Lewis Carroll-inspired opera has proved a huge success both on stage and on disc - BBC Music Magazine The recorded sound is excellent...a release of many pleasures - Opera Magazine
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