The Best of The King’s Singers
What people are saying
"This is a class act and a good entry point. Signum has plenty more where this comes from … Come in from the cold and warm yourself by the King’s Singers’ crackling logs" Musicweb International
The King’s Singers
Release date:24th Sep 2012
Signum is the latest home of The King’s Singers and the label has been busy with them, setting down disc after disc. This set offers a tempting sample under the headings of Classical and Light.
Disc 1 presents the ensemble’s ‘Classical’ face. I had some misgivings about pop balances. I was wrong. While we are sometimes given classical movements rather than whole works the approach neatly treads the perilous path between purism and exultant appeal. The tracks from Kreek, Tavener and Byrd all feel the pull of early church music. I was extremely taken with this first disc, which ends on a yet higher note with Libby Larson’s Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?
Disc 2 is entitled Light. It’s a more popular line-up this time. A close-up pop balance caresses the ears with King’s own brand of caramel smooth honey. You can almost see the singers leaning towards you and snapping their fingers on occasion; in fact they do just that in Straighten Up. There’s a high ‘ooooh’ quotient in the sound of these singers and their signature is driven further home by the sweet and high presence of two counter-tenors. Clever instrumental emulations can be found here – a good example is the Billy Joel classic She’s Always a Woman to Me. There are some traditional items among the pop tracks, though each is given a studio make-over as in The Gift to Be Simple. Irving Berlin’s Blue Skies gets the full classily aristocratic treatment. The voices are hyper-English without 1950s cut-glass.
The words are not reproduced in the booklet which lists the tracks – poorly contrasted text and background – alongside details of other King’s albums from Signum and a quick overview of the ensemble’s history. Signum have every right to preen themselves on having the King’s Singers to themselves.
In the same general region I wonder when will someone move to reissue Swingle II’s delectable 1977 RCA LP (RL 25112) of music by Debussy, Ravel, Poulenc, Elgar, Britten, Vaughan Williams and Stanford.
This is a class act and a good entry point. Signum has plenty more where this comes from.
Come in from the cold and warm yourself by the King’s Singers’ crackling logs.
Musicweb International, Rob Barnett
This double CD is released as part of the Singers’ current label Signum’s 15th anniversary celebrations. Thus the title ‘The Best Of The King’s Singers’ is slightly misleading and should have a sub-title reading something along the lines of ‘ The Signum Years’. The first CD includes titles from ‘Christmas’ (the group’s 2004 debut album with Signum), along with music from ‘Landscape And Time’, ‘Treason And Dischord’, Gesualdo’s ‘Tenebrae Responsories’, ‘Sacred Bridges’, ‘Siglio d’Oro’, ‘Romance Du Soir’, ‘From The Heart’, ‘High Flight ‘ and the 2012 release ‘Royal Rhymes And Rounds’. The second CD presents songs from ‘Six’, their most recent light album ‘Swimming Over London’ and the Grammy Award winning ‘Simple Gifts’. The King’s Singers are nothing if not prolific and they continue to set the standard for tight harmony acappella singing with a very distinctive vocal blend. The current line up is David Hurley and Timothy Wayne-Wright (counter-tenors), Paul Phoenix (tenor), the Christophers Bruerton and Gabbitas (baritones) and Jonathan Howard (bass). Not all of the 40 tracks are explicitly Christian; the ‘Classical’ disc has more examples than the ‘Light’ side but between the two there is more than enough to warrant a review. Personal favourites include a definitive version of John Tavener’s setting of William Blake’s "The Lamb" and Eric Whitacre’s numinous "Lux Aurumque" from the ‘Classical’ collection and the traditional "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot" and "Steal Away" from the ‘Light’ programme. Also of note are Leonard Cohen’s "Hallelujah" (and although I still have little idea as to what it is about, the singing is superb) and one of my all-time favourites in Neil Young’s "After The Goldrush" which here sounds better than the original – not too difficult when we remember Young’s limitations as a vocalist. In brief, there is nothing here that is not enjoyable and much that it is outstanding. Unless you have most of the discs from which this collection has been culled this is well worth having.
Cross Rhythms, Steven Whitehead
- Onnis on inimene, from Taaveti laulud – Cyrillus Kreek – 2.11
- Gloria, from Mass for Four Voices – William Byrd – 5.53
- In Monte Oliveti, from 1st Nocturn – Carlo Gesualdo – 4.42
- Bogoroditsye Dyevo – Arvo P?rt – 1.03
- Civitas sancti tui – William Byrd – 5.06
- The Lamb – John Tavener – 3.23
- Mon Dieu, j’ai en toi esperance (Psalm 7) – Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck – 4.38
- My heart is a holy place – Patricia Van Ness – 4.02
- Versa est in luctum – Juan Gutierrez de Padilla – 3.24
- In ieiunio et fletu – Diogo Dias Melgas – 2.50
- Shir hama’a lot Ashrei koi yere (Psalm 128) – Salamone Rossi Hebreo – 3.53
- Esti Dal – Zoltan Kodaly – 3.16
- Rakastava – Jean Sibelius – 7.45
- Calme des Nuits, Op 68, No.1 – Camille Saint-Sa?ns – 3.12
- Music,When Soft Voices Die – Edward Bairstow – 2.14
- Lightly she whipped o’er the dales – John Mundy – 3.13
- The Silver Swan – Orlando Gibbons – 1.46
- Days, from Even such is time – Bob Chilcott – 1.59
- Lux Aurumque – Eric Whitacre – 3.41
- Shall I Compare Thee to a Summer’s Day? – Libby Larsen – 3.00
- Lullabye (Goodnight, my angel) – Billy Joel, arr Philip Lawson – 4.04
- You are the new day – John David, arr Peter Knight – 2.40
- She’s always a woman to me – Billy Joel, arr Philip Lawson – 3.22
- Greensleeves – Trad English, arr Bob Chilcott – 3.03
- Valparaiso – Sting, arr Philip Lawson – 3.49
- Hide and seek – Imogen Heap, arr Christopher Gabbitas – 5.12
- Home – Michael Bubl?, Amy Foster-Gillies, Alan Chang arr Alexander L’Estrange – 3.53
- Straighten up and fly right – Nat King Cole, Irving Mills arr Alexander L’Estrange – 4.08
- The gift to be simple – Trad American, arr Bob Chilcott – 2.09
- Blue Skies – Irving Berlin, arr. Richard Rodney Bennett – 3.26
- Recipe for Love – Harry Connick, Jr, arr Berty Rice – 3.07
- Hallelujah – Leonard Cohen, arr Philip Lawson – 5.03
- Swing low, sweet chariot – Trad American, arr Peter Knight – 3.02
- I’m yours – Jason Mraz, arr Philip Lawson – 3.39
- Silent Love – Mia Makaroff – 3.26
- Blackbird – John Lennon, Paul McCartney, arr Daryl Runswick – 2.49
- After the Goldrush – Neil Young, arr Peter Knight – 3.06
- Out of the woods – Sinead Lohan, Nickel Creek, arr Philip Lawson – 4.12
- Swimming over London – Bob Chilcott & Charles Bennett – 3.12
- Steal away – Spiritual, arr Bob Chilcott – 2.56