• Tenebrae join the Aurora Orchestra with mezzo soprano Dame Sarah Connolly and narrator Simon Callow for ‘A Walk with Ivor Gurney’, an album of choral music celebrating the works of Ivor Gurney whose promising career as a composer was interrupted by World War I. Alongside four pieces of Gurney’s own music are works by his contemporaries, Ralph Vaughan Williams and Herbert Howells. The recording features a new piece by Judith Bingham commissioned by Tenebrae in 2013 for the choir with Dame Sarah Connolly.

    ★★★★★ The Mail Online

    Performance ★★★★ Recording ★★★★ Beautifully sung by Nigel Short's Tenebrae - BBC Music Magazine Orchestra and wordless choir combining to ravishing effect - The Arts Desk

    Nigel Short’s peerless Tenebrae singers, backed by the Aurora Orchestra, offer nothing but sorrowful beauty and multiple reasons to give thanks - The Times

    A nourishing, thoughtfully compiled release  - Gramophone The orchestra marvellously supportive and Tenebrae exemplary - Classical Source [Dame Sarah Connolly] brings a great warmth here, vocally but also in terms of her response to the poetryBBC Radio 3 Record Review Throughout this disc the singing of Tenebrae confirms their stature as one of the UK’s premier chamber choirs […] Tenebrae have done the memory of Ivor Gurney proud - MusicWeb International
  • The choral works of Duruflé, like his organ works, are small in number but beautifully crafted. Frequently written and rewritten until he was completely satisfied, he was a composer who rethought and reconfigured his music right up to the moment he had to let go of it. Often described as a man out of step with his times, his pieces look back to Gregorian chant and plainsong at a time when the musical life of his home city of Paris was steeped in radical new compositional ideas – a testament perhaps to Duruflé’s enduring love of France’s choral heritage. In a new recording produced by Grammy® winning producer Blanton Alspaugh, the Houston Chamber Choir are led by artistic director Robert Simpson on their first release with Signum Records. ★★★★ No listener could fail to be impressed by both the quality of the compositions and performances - Cross Rhythms ★★★★ Beautifully crafted - Classical Source The Houston Chamber Choir, led  by their artistic director Robert Simpson, present an immaculate account of these works - The Northern Echo Beautiful, artistic singing and thoughtful, sensitive music-making at every turn - Dale Warland A superb recording to be treasured - Simon Carrington
  • A special release showcasing James Rhodes’s most popular performances on 180g vinyl for the very first time.

    There's certainly nothing crude about the recorded sound - The Times

  • When Michael Nyman started reinventing the English baroque back in the 1980s, one critic described the result as “pump-action Purcell.” This recording combines these two singular musical styles through the stunning voice of countertenor Iestyn Davies and viol consort Fretwork, serving as the bridge across three centuries. The programme combines bold harmonies, wondrous inventions, and melodies that will haunt your dreams – whether from the 17th century or the 21st. Recorded following a concert tour of the programme, the disc includes the premiere recording of a new commission from Michael Nyman, Music after a While – based upon Purcell’s song, or more particularly upon its strikingly original bass-line, with its insidious rising chromatics. ★ A beautiful account - Planet Hugill All executed with perfection - The 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
  • Love Abide

    £12.00
    Roxanna Panufnik's ongoing mission to build musical bridges between different faiths was inspired by the birth of her first child in 2002, when she started to reflect on the world she was bringing her baby into. Religious conflict and wars caused by it are constantly in the news - but we rarely hear enough about the affirmative aspects of our many faiths, such as the phenomenal beauty of the varied cultures surrounding them. By exploring these cultures, Panufnik has been able to unearth a bounty of stunning chant and verse and has been brought closer to her own personal spiritual beliefs. Each work on this CD focuses on a particular mood or sentiment around the theme of love, expressed in a musical language that echoes the origin of the words. Drawing on texts from different faiths, from the 15th century Zen Master Ikkyū Sōyun to the well-loved 13th chapter of 1 Corinthians; from the Christian mass setting to the 14th Century Sufi poet and mystic Rumi, to the ancient Hebrew Psalm 136 (135). And marrying traditional Anglican text with a Catholic one – creating a truly Ecumenical Magnificat. Within the music you hear fragments of Spanish Sephardic chant, Christian plainsong, Sufi rhythms and a Japanese lullaby to soothe the soul. Love Abide encapsulates the very contemporary ethos of multicultural spiritual devotion in a world populated by a rich diversity of faiths – all feeling, as deeply and as aesthetically, the compelling potency of music with love. ★★★★★ A rich offering on the theme of interfaith connectivity - BBC Music Magazine A soothing soundworld - The Northern Echo
  • Love Songs

    £12.00
    The King's Singers mark Valentine's Day with a collection featuring some of the world's finest love songs – from classics of the Great American songbook including the Gershwins' 'Love is Here To Stay' and Kern's 'I Won't Dance' through to recent hits such as John Legend's 'All of Me' and Randy Newman's 'When She Loved Me'. Performance ★★★★ Recording ★★★★ Richard Rodney Bennett's exquisite arrangement of Gershwin's 'Love is Here to Stay' stands out... beautifully performed and with an appealing blend of popular hits and more unusual fare, this disc makes for an uplifting listen - BBC Music Magazine
  • Julian Bliss joins the Carducci String Quartet in performances of two seminal works – Weber’s Clarinet Quintet in B flat Major, Op. 34 and Mozart’s Clarinet Quintet in A Major, K.581.

    Performance ★★★★ Recording ★★★★ Bliss tackles the score with a piercingly pure, vibrato less tone - BBC Music Magazine Aesthetically sensitive and technically excellent... this is a performance that carries with it a weight of authority from all musicians - Classical Ear
  • One of the pinnacles of nineteenth-century pianism, Modest Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition broke new frontiers in its writing for the piano through its use of ringing bell-like sonorities, dramatic juxtaposition of registers and dynamics, its approach to resonance, percussive octaves and rapid hand-alternations, and sheer grandeur of sound. Introducing new ideas about virtuosity that owe much to orchestral thinking in the ways the full range of the piano’s tone-colours are explored, this work requires immense stamina through combining great finger dexterity with unbridled power. Mussorgsky’s masterpiece is coupled here with works by Ravel and Messiaen – composers who were indebted to the innovations of their Russian predecessor. Miroirs comprises a set of five pieces evoking contrasting moods and pianistic characters. Far from being Impressionist – a movement with which Ravel had little real affiliation –the ‘Mirrors’ of the title suggests more Symbolist associations in that the individual pieces explore ambiguities between supposed reality and ‘reflected’ simulation. Ravel was particularly fascinated by a line from Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar: ‘the eye sees not itself, but by reflection, by some other things.’ An unusually non-descriptive work for Messiaen, without religious references or bird- song, Cantéyodjayâ is about musical process and is constructed as a mosaic-like collage in which a jaunty rhythmic refrain is contrasted with a multiplicity of contrasting ideas, many of which are re-workings from his gargantuan Turangalîla-Symphonie. This recording confirms Donohoe's reputation as one of the foremost pianists of today, and comes highly recommended - The Northern Echo
  • Bass-baritone Stephan Loges is accompanied by Iain Burnside in a collection that explores concepts of lost youth, the transience of life and the comforting presence of nature. The programme features performances of Schumann’s 12 Gedichte Op. 35 and Brahms’s 5 Lieder Op. 94, as well as in 5 rarely recorded works by Finnish composer Yrjö Kilpinen.

    Born in Dresden, Stephan Loges was an early winner of the Wigmore Hall International Song Competition. He has given recitals throughout the world, including regular appearances at Wigmore Hall London and the Oxford Lieder Festival, as well as Carnegie Hall New York and many more.

    ★★★★ Loges and Burnside are a responsive duo... an intuitive set of songs with real light and shade throughout - BBC Music Magazine A sensitive, touching account of [Schumann's Op 35 cycle], with Iain Burnside offering fine piano playing - Gramophone Iain Burnside is as usual a flexible accompanist and Stephan Loges, who has already an impressive catalogue of recordings behind him, adds a further gem to his [collection] - MusicWeb International
  • The Choral Scholars of University College Dublin and Artistic Director Desmond Earley follow up their debut release with a programme of new choral music inspired by the evocative imagery of the natural world in traditional Irish and Scottish folksong and poetry. The disc includes a number of world-premiere recordings of new works and arrangements commissioned by the choir. The Choral Scholars of University College Dublin, under the artistic direction of Desmond Earley, is Ireland’s leading collegiate choral ensemble. With a large repertoire ranging from art to popular music, and stretching from the medieval to the contemporary in style, this choir gives many concerts throughout the academic year, both in Ireland and abroad. This whole project exudes quality - Gramophone Excellently sung - BBC Music Magazine
  • Hymns are a living link with the past, yet they still find freshness and relevance in the twenty- first century. Saint Thomas Aquinas comments that ‘hymns are the praise of God with song; a song is the exultation of the mind dwelling on eternal things, bursting forth in the voice’ and this explains neatly the vital place that hymnody has enjoyed throughout the ages, and continues to do so today. Praise my soul celebrates this glorious tradition of hymnody and showcases some of the hymns heard in Jesus College Chapel in their own regular pattern of choral services. Some of these, including Drop, drop, slow tears and Glory to thee, my God, this night have been sung regularly for hundreds of years. Others such as All my hope on God is founded or Christ Triumphant have become classics over the last half-century.

    The Choir of Jesus College Cambridge return to disc on Signum with their seventh release, and their first under choral director Richard Pinel.

    A magnificent disc of fine hymn tunes and outstanding music making - MusicWeb International
  • Resilience

    £12.00

    The Calidore Quartet present their first disc on Signum Records – a collection of quartets by Janáček, Prokofiev, Golijov and Mendelssohn.

    The pieces were the products of four compelling personal narratives: an escape from the NAZI eastern offensive in WWII, a life caught in the crosshairs of a surge of violence in the Middle East, the sudden death of one’s closest friend and the struggle of being trapped in a loveless marriage. Felix Mendelssohn and Leoš Janáček turned to their art to find an outlet for their personal grief while Sergei Prokofiev and Osvaldo Golijov used their compositions to make sense of a world that was turned upside down by violent conflict.

    Because of and despite these origins the works are imbued with emotional potency, and the quartet hope that that these works can provide “a message of hope because they illuminate the human potential to create beauty even in the darkest of circumstances.”

    Superb young quartet presents a timely and thought-provoking programme - The Strad Precision needn't inhibit expression; these lively, intelligent performances of an attractive and thought-provoking programme offer compelling proof - Gramophone Superb, rhythmically alert playing, the players’ collective virtuosity always at the service of the music - The Arts Desk The Calidore Quartet successfully capture the emotional charge of this powerful work, bringing resilience to a suitably stirring close - BBC Music Magazine If the recording is comparable to what this admirable group displayed last week, the loud ovations after the concert were completely justified - Seen and Heard International Never do these players lose sight of the fact that the music, for all its violence and passion, should be a thing of beauty - MusicWeb International
  • Christopher Glynn continues his series of late Schubert song cycles in English, joined by celebrated soloists Sir John Tomlinson, Sophie Bevan, Julian Bliss and Alec Frank-Gemmill.

    Titled by the works first publisher following Schubert’s death, Swansong (Schwanengesang) D 957 sets sets the words of poets Ludwig Rellstab, Heinrich Heine and Johann Gabriel Seidl in songs that cover a variety of different emotional states. The lighthearted Love Message (Liebesbotschaft), with its rippling accompaniment, addresses a murmuring brook with the hope of true love. The bone-chilling Doppelgänger with its stark, slowly tolling chords, finds the protagonist crazed with a nocturnal vision of himself agonizing at the empty doorstep of his lost love. Renowned for his clear diction and powerful voice, Sir John Tomlinson brings his insight and nuance to these profound works.

    Reminiscent of the scoring for The Shepherd on the Rock and composed in the same year, On the River (Auf dem Strom) combines soprano and horn in a setting of a poem by Ludwig Rellstab. Originally given to Beethoven who did not live long enough to set it, Schubert took up the words in a work that is a subtle homage to the composer.

    The 1828 work The Shepherd on the Rock (Der Hirt auf dem Felsen) sets words by Wilhelm Müller and German playwright Helmina von Chézy, and was composed in gratitude to the soprano Anna Milder-Hauptmann. Here performed by Sophie Bevan and Julian Bliss, it tells the story of a shepherd lamenting the distance between him and his beloved before a reflection on loneliness and grief. The final section celebrates the arrival of spring in a hopeful conclusion.

    The creamy clarity of both Alec Frank-Gemmill’s horn and Julian Bliss’s clarinet sound is a perfect foil for Sophie Bevan’s exquisite, rounded legato - BBC Music Magazine

    Christopher Glynn’s playing is excellent throughout - Gramophone

  • This CD marks the second release of the Carducci’s Shostakovich 15 project, which includes performances of the complete cycles of the Shostakovich Quartets in cities including Washington DC, London, Oxford, Cardiff, Bogota and concerts throughout the UK to mark the 40th anniversary of the composer’s death. Described by The Strad as presenting “a masterclass in unanimity of musical purpose, in which severity could melt seamlessly into charm, and drama into geniality”, the Carducci Quartet is recognised as one of today’s most successful string quartets. This disc contrasts Shostakovich’s first two string quartets with the seventh – composed in memory of his late wife Nina. In composing his quartets prior to No. 7, Shostakovich had scrupulously followed a predetermined sequence of keys: according to this, the work should have been in E flat major. However Shostakovich, significantly, chose to break this pattern by writing his new quartet in F sharp minor, the key associated with such anguished music as Peter’s remorse in Bach’s St John Passion, and – particularly close to Shostakovich’s heart – Mahler’s unfinished Tenth Symphony.
    These are athletic, upfront performances, clear in texture, forthright in tone and bold in articulation - Gramophone Sterling renditions that come highly recommended - The Northern Echo
  • 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 The full ensemble brings an undeniable grandeur - Gramophone A must for early music devotees - The Northern Echo Beautifully recorded by Signum, this is a novel and beautiful Tudor choral release - AllMusic
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