Royal Rhymes & Rounds


On a new disc to celebrate the 2012 Diamond Jubilee, The King’s Singers present a selection of works from the past 500 years written in honour of the great Monarchs of Britain.

Starting with works for (and in some cases by) Henry VIII, the programme covers the Elizabethan ‘Triumphs of Oriana’ by composers such as Gibbons, Mundy and Dowland; a very Victorian selection of dedicatory works by Elgar, Parry and Parratt; choral arrangements from the opera ‘Glorianna’ by Benjamin Britten; and a new piece by Paul Drayton that comically pens ‘A Rough Guide to the Royal Succession’. Drayton is perhaps best known to fans of The King’s Singers as the composer of their much-loved encore work Masterpiece.






What people are saying

"Premier English a cappella group provides its own celebrations in Jubilee Year" New Zealand Herald

The King’s Singers

Release date:4th Jun 2012
Order code:SIGCD307
Barcode: 635212030721

August 2012
Music for and by kings and queens: that’s the focus of this new King’s collection. King Henry VIII is the first regent featured, his own Pastime with good companie kicking off the recital. The anonymous Hey, trolly lolly lo! is positively lubricious, a saucy rugby song avant la lettre. Is it a little primly delivered by the King’s Singers? Possibly. But the sound this ensemble makes is beautifully balanced, and you could take dictation from their impeccable enunciation. These are considerable benefits.
Queen Elizabeth I’s reign yields more serious content, in the shape of John Bennet’s Dowland tribute Weep, O mine eyes, whose melancholy and desire for oblivion are sweetly rendered in the King’s Singers’ performance. Of the three pieces adulating Queen Victoria, Elgar’s 1899 part-song To her beneath whose steadfast star is the most interesting. It forms part of a collection featuring 13 composers, and Elgar conducted it himself at the queen’s 80th birthday breakfast.
A fresh-toned, lively account of the ‘Choral Dances’ from Britten’s 1953 opera Gloriana marks the reign of the current monarch. A new commission, Paul Drayron’s "A Rough Guide to the Royal Succession (It’s just one damn King after another.. .)" concludes the programme. It’s droll, but at 12-plus minutes perhaps better experienced live than on record.
Overall, this disc from the King’s Singers is a notably intelligent, enjoyable Jubilee offering.

BBC Music Magazine, Terry Blain

Royal Rhymes and Rounds is the King’s Singers’ contribution to the Jubilee, assuring us the British monarchy and the musical art have connections that go a little deeper than the recent Variety Show outside Buckingham Palace.

Eight madrigals saluting Good Queen Bess are at the heart of the collection. The six men trip neatly though John Mundy’s Lightly she whipped o’er the daies. In Thomas Weelkes’ As Vesta was from Latmos Hill descending, the nymphs and shepherds run down in twos and threes as daintily as they did on the Auckland Town Hall stage.

Those who quest for curiosities will appreciate having two versions of Orlando Gibbons’ The Silver Swan.

In both, the closing phrase, "more geese than swans now live, more fools than wise" seems as eloquently relevant for our times as four centuries ago.

Henry VIII sets the collection off when the King’s Singers deliver the monarch’s own rousing Pastime with Good Company.

Henry’s womanising is slyly tagged in the anonymous Hey, trolly lolly lo! in which countertenors get to play a maid determined to milk her cow rather than lose her maidenhead.

A bracket of Victoriana, written for the 80th birthday of the Queen, offers juicier harmonies but, in the case of Elgar’s lovely "To her beneath whose steadfast star," a richer palette of mixed voices would have been better.

The Choral Dances from Britten’s Gloriana spring to life with the impeccable vivacity that has become the group’s signature, although a more recent commission is problematic.

Paul Drayton’s A Rough Guide to the Royal Succession seems overlong and nudging at almost 13 minutes, complete with buzzing flies in court of Aethelred the Unredey, a touch of Tea for Two when Queen Anne gets out her teapot and a spot of jolly ragtime to celebrate the current Queen.

The King’s Singers: Royal Rhymes & Rounds (Signum, both through Ode Records)

Stars: 4/5

Verdict: Premier English a cappella group provides its own celebrations in Jubilee Year

New Zealand Herald, William Dart

Given that they’ve been around almost as long as Elizabeth II, a Jubilee CD from the King’s Singers is inevitable. Pristinely sung, if starchily interpreted, the selection comprises a predictable trawl through Tudor and Elizabethan partsongs, and a less predictable choice of Victoriana, including the unintentionally hilarious Waiter Parratt. The six Choral Dances from Britten’s Gloriana are suavely delivered, but KS fans will probably buy this recording for Paul Drayton’s A Rough Guide to the Royal Succession, a 12-minute pastiche that romps through 1,000 years of kings and queens. 

The Times, Richard Morrison

Well Rutter’s not the only one who has seized on Gloriana for the diamond Jubilee. The King’s Singers feature the choral dances on their recital of Royal Rhymes and Rounds, but you won’t mistake them for the Cambridge singers, no chance, not with this pair of countertenors as Britten’s country girls. The last three choral dances from Benjamin Britten’s Gloriana and a pretty athletic performance from the King’s Singers – loads of vocal character and the kind of individual virtuosity we know to expect. Remember their Gesualdo in Building a Library a few weeks ago? I like this one as well, music grouped around four Monarchs; Henry the Eighth including a couple of his own ditties, Elizabethan madrigals, Victoriana from Parry and Elgar and the Britten for Queen Elizabeth II, after which there’s Paul Drayton’s A Rough Guide to the Royal Succession, subtitled ‘It’s just one damn King after another…’, commissioned by the King’s Singers for the Diamond Jubilee. It’s neat rhymes and writing and if it turns out to be the kind of occasional piece you don’t really need to hear all that often, it’s the last thing on the disc. ‘Royal Rhymes and Rounds’ is the title from Signum Classics.

BBC Radio 3 CD Review, Andrew McGregor

  1. Pastime with good companie (The King’s Ballad) – King Henry VIII –
  2. Ah, Robin, gentle Robin – William Cornysh –
  3. Blow thy horn, hunter – William Cornysh –
  4. It is to me a right great joy – King Henry VIII –
  5. Hey, trolly lolly lo! – Anonymous –
  6. Long live fair Oriana – Ellis Gibbons –
  7. The Silver Swan (Round) – Orlando Gibbons –
  8. The Silver Swan – Orlando Gibbons –
  9. Fair Oriana, beauty’s Queen – John Hilton –
  10. Lightly she whipped o’er the dales – John Mundy –
  11. Flow, O my tears – John Dowland –
  12. Weep, O mine eyes – John Bennet –
  13. As Vesta was from Latmos hill descending – Thomas Weelkes –
  14. The Triumph of Victoria – Sir Walter Parratt –
  15. Who can dwell with greatness? – Sir Hubert Parry –
  16. To her beneath whose steadfast star – Sir Edward Elgar –
  17. Choral Dances from ‘Gloriana’: Time – Benjamin Britten –
  18. Choral Dances from ‘Gloriana’: Concord – Benjamin Britten –
  19. Choral Dances from ‘Gloriana’: Time and Concord – Benjamin Britten –
  20. Choral Dances from ‘Gloriana’: Country Girls – Benjamin Britten –
  21. Choral Dances from ‘Gloriana’: Rustics and Fishermen – Benjamin Britten –
  22. Choral Dances from ‘Gloriana’: Final Dance of Homage – Benjamin Britten –
  23. A Rough Guide to the Royal Succession (It’s just one damn King after another…) – Paul Drayton –