Home | Reviews | Articles | Festivals | Competitions | Other | Contact Us

The King's Singers and The BBC Singers (new from Signum)

John McCabe, Poulenc, French Renaissance Chansons etc

: Chansons Francaises Op. 130

John McCabe
: Scenes in America Deserta

Janequin: La guerre
Lasso: Dessus le Marche d'Arras; Toutes les Nuitz
Passereau: Il est bel et bon
Bridge F: The Goslings
Hobbs: Phillis is my only joy
Rogers, J: Hears not my Phyllis
trad.arr. S. E. Lovatt: The Little Green Lane
Greensleeves arr. Bob Chilcott
Blow Away the Morning Dew arr. Gordon Langford
The Turtle Dove arr. Philip Lawson
Widdicombe Fair arr. Gordon Langford
Sullivan: The long day closes

The King's Singers - Countertenors David Hurley Robin Tyson Tenor Paul Phoenix Baritones Philip Lawson Christopher Gabbitas Bass Stephen Connolly

Recorded Royal Albert Hall, London 5th August 2008

Signum Vision SIGDVD005 & Signum Classics SIGCD150

A Christmas offering from the popular The King's Singers which will give pleasure to those who were at the concert or saw it on TV. It is available on CD and DVD; the nicely filmed DVD with its extras is recommended, but one must deplore the absence of texts in either booklet, or as subtitles on the DVD.

Diction is generally good, and one catches words and phrases; but more rarely the sense of a poem as a whole.That is fatal for the selection of Poulenc songs in French, the French Rennaisance Chansons and for the substantial commission from John McCabe.

Perhaps Signum may be persuaded (if copyright restrictions might be waived) to put onto their website the texts and translations which were provided at the Royal Albert Hall; that would help our readers.

Failing that, some of the texts are in the public domain and can be accessed by Searching on line; having them on the screen next to the singers enhances listening pleasure enormously...

A small point about platform presentation may be worth the notice of other recitalists. For those items in which they sing from the music, the music stands are placed horizontally so that they do not block the audience view, a real problem with many instrumentalists in concerts.

Judith Bingham - Remoter Worlds

Bingham: Gleams of a Remoter World; The Shepheardes Calender; Water Lilies; Irish Tenebrae; Unpredictable but Providential; Beneath these Alien Stars; Ghost Towns of the American West

The BBC Singers, David Hill (chief conductor)

Signum - SIGCD144

No reservations about this disc of compositions by a former member of the BBC Singers, except to wonder if the title may be a turn-off for some collectors?

I have been aware of Judith Bingham as a successful and eclectic composer in several genres, but this superbly devised programme places her firmly in the forefront of contemporary choral composers.

There are settings of striking poems by Shelley, Spenser, Yeats, Lamb, Symons, Frost and the American pioneer poet Vesta Pierce Crawford, as well as one by Bingham herself. Bingham has a special gift, which reminded me of Britten's, for selecting apt and memorable poems to set. Having had that thought, I was pleased to note that one of the songs had words by Auden and was premiered by the Britten Singers.

Full texts are provided and following them is essential for proper appreciation. Mostly the songs are meditations upon the poems, without any expectation that the words should be easy, or indeed possible, for listeners to follow by ear alone. Many of them, and the settings, are gems and the whole sequence is one that I have quickly returned to and heard twice through. The notes by Judith Bingham herself are pertinent and interesting.

This is a very classy production. Several of the BBC Singers are featured as soloists, all of them predictably excellent, and there are in some of the items distinguished musicians providing obbligatti for violin, percussion, organ - and whistlers !

This is a choral CD to treasure, one of the year's best.

Peter Grahame Woolf