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Signum Anniversary Collection
A Cappella Collection (SIGCD299) [74:27]
Early Music Collection (SIGCD301) [73:24]
Organ Collection (SIGCD302) [77:26]
Art Song Collection (SIGCD303) [74:13]
Choral Collection (SIGCD304) [75:46]
Piano Collection (SIGCD305) [77:26]
Discs also available separately.
Track-lists and performers at end of review
rec. No details supplied. DDD
SIGNUM SIGCD 510 [6 CDs: 452:42]


 
These six compilation discs mark the fifteenth anniversary in 2012 of Signum Records' first CD release, back in 1997. Since then the label has issued more than 300 discs, from their beginnings as a specialist in early music - collectors will surely have the Chapelle du Roi's Complete Works of Thomas Tallis (9 CDs, recently released as a boxed set on Brilliant Classics 93621) - to a number of recordings that fall, parlous or happy, according to taste, into crossover or easy listening categories. The discs are available separately for £5 each direct from Signum (prices vary elsewhere), or £20 for all six.
 
Each of the compilations - A Cappella, Early Music, Organ Music, Choral Music, Art Song, and Piano Music - is generously timed, running to at least 73 minutes, and recorded in the generally excellent audio that characterises Signum discs. On the other hand, the selections are not as broad as they could be. On the Piano disc, for example, there are three tracks each from John Lill and James Rhodes. In the Organ Collection, there are six tracks featuring Joseph Nolan, including three in a row.
 
From a musical perspective, the most widely appealing discs are likely to be the Organ, Art Song and Early Music collections - fine compendiums of pieces that make for entertaining and varied recitals. With a dozen different instruments played on the Organ CD, doubters should be persuaded once and for all that all church organs do not sound the same! The Art Song disc features a number of superb singers - Mark Padmore, Philip Langridge, Sarah Connolly, Ailish Tynan and so on. It is almost worth the cover price to hear Roderick Williams's very English attempt at a Scots accent. The Early Music Collection provides a showcase for Signum's early back catalogue, and offers the only programme in which instrumental and vocal pieces sit side by side.
 
The remaining discs are less coherent musically. The Piano Collection programme is broadly attractive, with something for everyone, but goes too far in that regard with Michael Nyman's Lady in the Red Hat, which not only sounds as if it has been recorded with two synthesizers rather than pianos, but is also so thoroughly tedious that Signum's motive for including it must be considered a mystery.
 
The A Cappella Collection highlights Signum's more recent attempts at trendiness and is not for those prone to bilious attacks. The Swingle Singers, Voces8, the King's Singers and Tenebrae have cornered the market for trivialised, pointless renditions of what was previously perfectly good music. By way of demonstration, the CD opens with an appalling beatbox arrangement of the opening of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony - and then goes downhill from there, with a motley assemblage of pleasantly sung, but mind-numbing, emotionally insulting pastiches. Some of the songs are unequivocally detestable, such as the Swingle Singers' truly toe-curling 'Bachbeat' and Voces8's absolutely idiotic 'Smooth Criminal' - after the pop singer Michael Jackson. The London Quartet - who should never sing anything other than pop - demonstrate, as they eviscerate Monteverdi, how not to breathe when singing.
 
Voces8, Tenebrae and the King's Singers are back again on the Choral Collection, with more forgettable accounts of what are meant to be classics of the repertoire, although in fairness, Tenebrae's interpretation of the bastardised version of Gregorio Allegri's Miserere is as convincing as many. For those that did not snap up that Complete Tallis, the Chapelle du Roi's Spem in Alium issues an urgent reminder to get snapping, and elsewhere the quality of performance is admirable, the variety of music impressive.
 
It is fair to say that Signum have hardly gone to town on design for these discs, with rather cheap-looking covers and a complete absence of notes, biographies and recording details. However, the catalogue numbers of the discs from which the tracks are extracted are supplied, and there is also a miniature facsimile of the front cover of each availing disc in the booklet. The tracklists themselves have a few misprints or typos, most noticeably the repeated and treasonable 'Ludvig' for 'Ludwig (van Beethoven)'.
 
Signum's is an anniversary to celebrate in these difficult times for art music, but a purchase of three CDs rather than six will yield more musically satisfying results.
 
Byzantion
Collected reviews and contact at artmusicreviews.co.uk


  Track-lists and Performers
 
Signum Anniversary Series: A Cappella Collection
Ludwig van BEETHOVEN
*A Fifth of Beethoven [3:12]
Imogen HEAP
**Hide and Seek [5:13]
Bob CHILCOTT
+Weather Report [4:39]
++Swansongs 1 [2:04]
Gabriel FAURÉ
#Après un Rêve [3:25]
George GERSHWIN
##Slap that Bass [3:07]
Stephen STILLS
**Helplessly Hoping [2:34]
Traditional
##Steal Away [4:12]
#The Dying Soldier [4:33]
LEWIS/HENDRIKS/LAMBERT
*It’s Sand, Man! [2:36]
Claudio MONTEVERDI
@Oblivion [3:32]
Joaquín RODRIGO
@@En Aranjuez con Tu Amor [6:21]
Eric WHITACRE
**This Marriage [2:44]
Lionel BART
##From Russia with Love [2:34]
Roy HARPER
@When an Old Cricketer Leaves the Crease [6:53]
Neil YOUNG
**After the Goldrush [3:10]
BACH/SWINGLE/SHLOMO
*Bachbeat [2:39]
Mia MAKAROFF
**Andromeda [4:21]
Graham LACK
**Conceit [3:46]
Michael JACKSON
##Smooth Criminal [2:55]
Arrangements for a cappella group.
*The Swingle Singers
**The King's Singers
+BBC Singers
++The Sirens
#Tenebrae
##Voces8
@The London Quartet
@@Coro Cervantes
 
Signum Anniversary Series: Early Music Collection
Claudio MONTEVERDI
a Deus in adjutorium - Domine in adiuvandum [2.00]
b Cantate Domino [1.42]
Piero STROZZI
*Mascara (from: Harmonia Caelestis) [2.04]
Antonio VIVALDI
c Giga - Presto (from: Sonata, op.2 no.8 in G minor) [2.00]
d Allegro (from: Concerto in G minor, RV.106 [2.58]
Juan HIDALGO (arr. Kah-Ming Ng)
*Esperar, Sentir, Morir [4.24]
Anonymous
e Rosa das rosas (Cantiga) (from: Codex Las Huelgas) [4.06]
**Galliard [1.25]
f Kyrie Eleison [3.21]
**Plusieurs regretez à 4 [2.34]
Traditional
g Old Simon the King [2.26]
Thomas FORD
h Tis Now Dead Night [4.02]
Johann Sebastian BACH
i Prélude (from: Cello Suite in G, BWV.1007) [3.05]
*Erbarm dich mein, O Herre Gott, BWV.721 [4.09]
j Aria (from: Partita in D, BWV.828 [2.16]
William BYRD
k A Fancie [4.32]
Alonso LOBO
l Versa est in luctum [5.25]
Giovanni GABRIELI
m Gradual: Canzona [13] à 12 [2.49]
Guillaume DUFAY
n O Beate Sebastiane [2.54]
Thomas TALLIS
o Te lucis ante terminum (festal) [2.02]
Pietro BALDASSARI
*Allegro [1.55]
Ioannes Lulinus VENETUS
**Nel tempo che riveste il verde manto [2.32]
Heinrich BIBER
c Mystery Sonata no.3 - mvt.1 [1.54]
Georg Philipp TELEMANN
p Gott will Mensch und sterblich werden: Aria [2.08]
John MILTON
k Fair Orion, in the morn [2.07]
Keith MCGOWAN (after Thomas Morley)
q Lavolto [2.33]
*Charivari Agréable/Kah-Ming Ng
**Musica Antiqua/Philip Thorby
a Orchestra of the Age of the Enlightenment & Choir of the Enlightenment/Robert Howarth
b VOCES8
c Cordaria/Walter Reiter
d Gail Hennessy (oboe), Nicholas Parle (harpsichord)
e Mille Fleurs
f Gonville & Caius College Choir/Geoffrey Webber
g Emma Murphy (recorder), William Lyons (dulcian), David Miller (Baroque guitar), Steven Devine (harpsichord)
h Gallicantus/Elizabeth Kenny (lute)
i David Kenedy (cello)
j Lucy Carolan (harpsichord)
k The King's Singers
l Tenebrae/Nigel Short
m Gabrieli Consort & Players/Paul McCreesh
n The Clerks’ Group/Edward Wickham
o Chapelle du Roi/Alistair Dixon
p Linda Perillo (soprano), Cordaria
q Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre Company
 
Signum Anniversary Series: Organ Collection
Johann Sebastian BACH
*Toccata in C, BWV.564 [6:14]
Felix MENDELSSOHN
Con moto maestoso (from: Sonata no.3 in A) [7:12]
Robert SCHUMANN
**Langsam (from: Six Fugues, op.60) [5:09]
Samuel S. WESLEY
+Choral Song [3:14]
Ralph VAUGHAN WILLIAMS
Rhosymedre [4:33]
Marcel DUPRÉ
++Prelude in B major, op.7 [3:05]
Olivier MESSIAEN
*Institution de l’Eucharist [6:20]
Jean LANGLAIS
#Te Deum [4:16]
George THALBEN-BALL
Poema [6:13]
Edward ELGAR
++Nimrod [3:57]
Alexander MASON
##Minuet - Waltz (from: Suite des Danses) [2:53]
Johann PACHELBEL
~Toccata in G minor [1:48]
Théodore DUBOIS
Toccata [6:47]
Charles-Marie WIDOR
Adagio (from: Organ Symphony no.5) [4:34]
Léon BOELLMANN
Toccata (from: Suite Gothique, op. 25) [4:41]
Louis VIERNE
~~Final (from: Organ Symphony no.1) [6:29]
Joseph Nolan (organ)
*David Goode (organ)
**Simon Preston (organ)
+James Vivian
++Robert Quinney (organ)
#Naji Hakim (organ)
##Alexander Mason
~Michael Matthes (organ)
~~Jeremy Filsell (organ)
 
Signum Anniversary Series: Art Song Collection
Ralph VAUGHAN WILLIAMS
a On Wenlock Edge [3:43]
Ludwig Van BEETHOVEN
b Aus Goethes Faust, from Op. 75 [2:10]
c Migon - Kennst du das Land, from Op. 75 [4:09]
Francis POULENC
d* Reine des Mouettes [1:08]
e* Les Chemins de l’Amour [3:45]
f* Monsieur sans Souci (Il Fait Tout Lui-Même) [3:07]
Alec ROTH
g# A Fine Lady [5:26]
Franz LISZT
h Oh! Quand je Dors [4:28]
F. G. SCOTT
b Lourd on My Hert [1:24]
E. J. MOERAN
i The Lost Lover (arr.) [2:31]
Benjamin BRITTEN
j Diaphenia [1:57]
g Sonnet XVI [2:15]
k Il Est Quelqu’un sur Terre (arr.) [4:38]
Henry PURCELL (arr. Michael Tippett)
l Sweeter than Roses [3:29]
Eric WHITACRE
m Éyze Shéleg [2:12]
Peter WARLOCK
n And Wilt Thou Leave Me Thus [2:01]
Patrick HAWES
o A Birthday [3:07]
Reynaldo HAHN
p A Chloris [2:59]
Michael TIPPETT
l Come unto These Yellow Sands [1:55]
Judith WEIR
q Sevdalino, My Little One [1:45]
Stephen STORACE
r The Curfew Tolls the Bell [3:33]
Samuel BARBER
i Solitary Hotel [2:41]
Erich Wolfgang KORNGOLD
p Sterbelied (from: Vier Abschiedslieder, op.14) [4:193]
Herbert HUGHES
i She moved thro’ the Fair (arr.) [3:00]
Kurt WEILL
p Speak Low [2:29]
Iain Burnside (piano)
* Malcolm Martineau (piano)
#Philippe Honoré (violin), Alison Nicholls (harp), Morgan Szymanski (guitar)
a Andrew Kennedy (tenor), Dante Quartet, Simon Crawford-Phillips (piano)
b Roderick Williams (baritone)
c Ann Murray (mezzo-soprano)
d Lisa Milne (soprano)
e Felicity Lott (soprano)
f Jonathan Lemalu (bass baritone)
g Mark Padmore (tenor)
h Rebecca Evans (soprano)
i Ailish Tynan (soprano)
j Andrew Swait (treble), Andrew Plant (piano)
k Susan Gritton (soprano)
l John Mark Ainsley (tenor)
m Hila Plitmann (soprano), Christopher Glynn (piano)
n Tim Travers-Brown (countertenor), Jeremy Filsell (piano)
o Elin Manahan Thomas (soprano), Claire Jones (harp)
p Sarah Connolly (mezzo-soprano), Eugene Asti (piano)
q Susan Bickley (mezzo-soprano)
r Philip Langridge (tenor), David Owen Norris (piano)
 
Signum Anniversary Series: Choral Collection
Johann Sebastian BACH
##Lobet den Herrn, alle Heiden BWV.230 [6:06]
$$Dona Nobis Pacem (from: B minor Mass) [3:48]
Francis POULENC
#Sanctus (from: Mass in G) [2:28]
Eric WHITACRE
**Lux Aurumque [3:42]
Bob CHILCOTT
++The Lily and the Rose [4:01]
Leonard BERNSTEIN
@Chichester Psalms [4:05]
John STAINER
*God so Loved the World (from: The Crucifixion) [3:22]
Gregorio ALLEGRI
#Miserere [11:59]
Edward ELGAR
@@They Are at Rest [3:29]
Thomas TALLIS
£Spem in Alium [10:00]
Geoffrey BURGON
££Nunc Dimittis [3:07]
Alec ROTH
~Lost [3:47]
Patrick HAWES
~~Love’s Promise [3:07]
Frank MARTIN
$Sanctus (from: Mass for double choir) [4:52]
George Frideric HANDEL (arr. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart)
*'Hallelujah' (from: The Messiah) [3:47]
Michael TIPPETT
+Over the Sea to Skye [4:05]
*Huddersfield Choral Society
**The King's Singers
+BBC Singers
++The Sirens
#Tenebrae
##Voces8
@The Temple Choir
@@Gabrieli Consort
£Chapelle du Roi
££Abbey School Choir
~ Ex Cathedra
~~ Elin Manahan Thomas
$Vasari Singers
$$ Rodolfus Choir
 
Signum Anniversary Series: Piano Collection
Ludwig van BEETHOVEN
Allegro con brio (from: 'Waldstein' Sonata, op.53) [8:39]
Johannes BRAHMS
*Andante moderato (from: 3 Intermezzi, op.117) [4:42]
Sergei RACHMANINOV
~Prelude in C sharp minor, op.3/2 [4:55]
**Vocalise, Op. 34 no.14 (arr. Alessio Bax) [6:24]
Joseph HAYDN
*Scherzando (from: Sonata, Hob XVI: 36) [3:05]
Johann Sebastian BACH
+Prelude and Fugue no.11 in F (from: The Well-tempered Clavier) [2:26]
Prelude in B minor (arr. A Siloti) [3:18]
**Largo (from: Keyboard Concerto in F minor (arr. Alessio Bax) [3:42]
Michael NYMAN
~~Lady in the Red Hat [5:27]
Robert SCHUMANN
*Langsam Getragen (from: Fantasie in C, op.17) [12:49]
Jean-Philippe RAMEAU
+Le Rappel des Oiseaux [2:55]
Enrique GRANADOS
#El Fandango de Candil [6:45]
Elena KATS-CHERNIN
##Alexander Rag [2:59]
Claude DEBUSSY
++Pagodes [5:15]
Modest MUSSORGSKY
++Ballet des Poussins (from: Pictures from an Exhibition) [1:08]
Frédéric CHOPIN
Prelude in E minor, op.28/4 [2:39]
James Rhodes (piano)
*John Lill (piano)
**Alessio Bax (piano)
+Jill Crossland (piano)
++Llyr Williams (piano)
~Jeremy Filsell (piano)
~~The Zoo Duet
#Ana-Maria Vera
##Sarah Nicolls


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