The King's Singers, an all-male a cappella sextet, have issued an extraordinarily large range of recordings, most of them quite successful. But they may be at their best in a circumscribed setting like that of the Christmas album, which brings their innovative harmonies into the sharpest relief. In this seasonal collection they offer traditional Christmas carols given new levels of musical tension by the addition of repeated harmonic figures in the accompanying voices, clashing with but not destabliizing the melody. They include a few highly chromatic pieces, such as an arrangement by English-American composer Jeremy Lubbock of a Tchaikovsky hymn called "The Crown of Roses". And listeners will have to discover for themselves what to make of "The Twelve Days of Christmas". Throughout, the trademark mixture of awesomely precise harmonies and equally awesome sense of enjoyment is fully in evidence, and they are backed here by the superior capabilities of Signum's engineering team, working in London's acoustically fine Cadogan Hall. A delightful holiday release.
Source: James Manheim (allmusic.com)
Ο πλούσιος ήχος, ο ακριβής τονισμός, η εξαιρετικά σωστή άρθρωση που αναδεικνύει όμορφα και την παραμικρή λεπτομέρεια, και φυσικά το χαρακτηριστικό τους χιούμορ, είναι αυτά που κάνουν συναρπαστική κάθε εμφάνιση ή ηχογράφηση του διάσημου βρετανικού a cappella φωνητικού συνόλου The King's Singers.
Στον δίσκο "Joy to the World", οι King's Singers ερμηνεύουν, με τον δικό τους μοναδικό τρόπο, χριστουγεννιάτικα τραγούδια και κάλαντα. Η εξαιρετική, ζωντανή ηχογράφηση έγινε στο Cadogan Hall του Λονδίνου στις 19 Δεκεμβρίου 2010 και κυκλοφόρησε σε ψηφιακό δίσκο από τη βρετανική δισκογραφική εταιρεία Signum Records το 2011.
The King's Singers
"Joy to the World"
1. Rise up, shepherd, and follow (Traditional, arr. Carl Davis)
2. Gabriel's message (Edgar Pettiman)
3. Noël nouvelet (Traditional, arr. Philip Lawson)
4. What child is this? (Traditional / William Chatterton Dix, arr. Bob Chilcott)
5. The crown of roses (Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, arr. Jeremy Lubbock)
6. O little one sweet (Traditional, harmonised Johann Sebastian Bach)
7. Lullay my liking (Philip Lawson)
8. Stille Nacht (Franz Gruber / Joseph Mohr, arr. John Rutter)
9. The quiet heart (June Collin / James Morgan)
10. There is a flower (John Rutter)
11. Joy to the world (Lowell Mason / Isaac Watts, arr. Philip Lawson)
12. Sérénade d'hiver (Camille Saint-Saëns)
13. The twelve days of Christmas (Traditional, arr. Geoffrey Keating, featuring John Julius Norwich's "A correspondence")
14. Gaudete (Traditional, arr. Brian Kay)
15. God rest you merry gentlemen (Traditional, arr. Geoffrey Keating)
16. The little drummer boy (Katherine K. Davis / Henry Onorati / Harry Simeone, arr. John McCarthy)
17. Jingle bells (James Lord Pierpont, arr. Gordon Langford)
18. Deck the hall with boughs of holly (Traditional / Thomas Oliphant, arr. Gordon Langford)
The King's Singers:
David Hurley, countertenor
Timothy Wayne-Wright, countertenor
Paul Phoenix, tenor
Philip Lawson, baritone
Christopher Gabbitas, baritone
Jonathan Howard, bass
Recorded live at Cadogan Hall, London, on 19th December 2010
Signum Records 2011
(HD 1080p – Audio video)
In the video is missing the name of Philip Lawson (baritone). We apologize.
Over the years, The King's Singers have built up a great variety of music for Christmas, mirroring the eclecticism of our general repertoire. Our roots lie in the English choral tradition of the great cathedrals and college chapels, a tradition perhaps most strongly associated in the minds of the public with this time of year. This programme, which has the title "Joy to the World", consists of music that reflects the atmosphere of the season, and although some of the music in this group will not be known to every one of you, we are sure that the images in the texts are ones with which you will all feel quite familiar. We were delighted to have been able to record this CD live during a concert at London's Cadogan Hall on 19th December 2010, and the event was made all the more festive by the large amount of snow (for Southern England) that had fallen in the previous 36 hours.
The programme begins with the traditional Christmas spiritual, "Rise up, shepherd, and follow", in an arrangement by New York-born composer and conductor Carl Davis, who now resides in London. Edgar Pettiman's "Gabriel's message" (also known as "The Angel Gabriel") is a well-known English Christmas song, based on a traditional Basque tune. There is more musical "Pan-Nationalism" in "The crown of roses", written by the great Russian composer Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, but heard here in an arrangement by Jeremy Lubbock, an Englishman now living in southern California. Philip Lawson's "Nöel nouvelet" sets an old French text dating from the 15th century, while the American 19thcentury composer Lowell Mason sets a text by the 18th-century English hymn-writer, Isaac Watts. William Chatterton Dix's words for "What child is this?" were designed to be sung to the famous traditional English tune "Greensleeves". There has been a persistent belief that the composer of this melody was King Henry VIII, written in honour of his second wife, Anne Boleyn, during their courtship. There is little concrete proof that this is true, but the song was certainly well known during the reign of Henry's daughter, Elizabeth. In 1602, Shakespeare makes two references to the song in his play "The Merry Wives of Windsor".
"O little one sweet" is the English-language version of a traditional German song, "O Jesulein süss", sung here using Johann Sebastian Bach's harmonisation. Percy Dearmer wrote the English words in 1928. One of the lesser-known works in this concert is June Collin's "The Quiet Heart", which sets words by James Morgan. This piece was written for performance by the Songster choirs of the Salvation Army. By contrast Franz Gruber's "Stille Nacht" must be one of the most famous of all Christmas tunes. Gruber was organist of St Nicholas' Church in the Austrian town of Oberndorf, and he set words by the church's assistant pastor, Joseph Mohr. There are many myths that have arisen around this song. There is, sadly, no proof that the work was composed at haste on Christmas Eve after the church's organ had broken down. Some even blame mice for the organ's failure. What is known is that on 24th December 1818 this much-loved Christmas song was given its first performance. The remaining two works in the first half are original songs by two British composers, John Rutter and our very own Philip Lawson. In "There is a flower" Rutter sets a text by the early 15th-century chronicler, poet and priest John Audelay, one of the few poets of this time whose name is known to us. Philip's "Lullay my liking" sets a traditional English text dating from the 15th century.
Berlioz said of Camille Saint-Saëns: "He knows everything but lacks inexperience". This was a shrewd assessment of someone who had perfect pitch, wrote his first piano piece at the age of three, gave a concert at which he played concertos by Mozart and Beethoven from memory at the age of ten, and in later years, had all the Mozart concertos in his repertory – an astonishing feat at a time when only a handful of them were at all well known. Saint-Saëns was also well versed in Latin, mathematics, astronomy, archeology, and geology. Not surprisingly, perhaps, there were few aspects of composition that he did not explore with extraordinary fluency and competence. Among the more specialised musical genres that engaged his interest was that of the unaccompanied part-song, of which he composed some 20 examples for various combinations. "Sérénade d'hiver", a charming "winter serenade" to words by Henri Cazalis, dates from 1867 and was dedicated to Auguste Wolff.
"The twelve days of Christmas" is a traditional English song which dates back to the 18th century, although it is believed the song may be French in origin. It tells of the incredible generosity of a man in giving an extraordinary array of presents to his beloved, ranging from a partridge in a pear tree, through gold rings and swans, through to pipers and drummers, to name but a few. The British historian, broadcaster and writer John Julius Norwich has written twelve "thank you letters" that reflect the reality of this array of gifts, and which challenges the old adage, "It's not the gift, but the thought that counts".
"Gaudete" is taken from a collection of sacred songs published in 1582 by Theodoric Petri of Nyland. Its exact origin is unknown, but it is likely to have come from Sweden or Finland. Our version was arranged by founding King's Singers bass Brian Kay. Geoffrey Keating's arrangement of the traditional English carol "God rest you merry gentlemen" owes rather a lot to the American jazz pianist Dave Brubeck, and his catchy hit, "Take Five". The hugely popular Christmas song, "The little drummer boy" (originally titled "Carol of the drum"), was composed by Katherine K. Davis in 1941. Many singers have covered the song, ranging from Marlene Dietrich (a version in German) to David Bowie (a duet with Bing Crosby). Apparently the song's lyric contains no less than 21 times "pa-ru-pa-pum-pums". Our programme ends with two classic King's Singers' arrangements by Gordon Langford, without which our Christmas would not be complete. James Lord Pierpont wrote "Jingle Bells" in 1850, not as a Christmas song, but for a Thanksgiving celebration. It describes the winter sleigh races through snow-bound Boston – races whose main purpose was to impress young ladies. Despite this, it remains one of the standard tunes of shopping centres at Christmas! We finish with an inventive version of "Deck the hall with boughs of holly", which is based on a traditional Welsh dance tune. It is not sure when the English language version was penned, but it is thought they were inspired by the Welsh language New Year song "Nos Galan", set to the same tune. We hope you will enjoy this light-hearted end to our Christmas programme.
The King's Singers, 2011
Source: CD Booklet
The King's Singers are an entertaining six-man vocal ensemble that tours the world singing a variety of repertory to appreciative listeners. The group was formed in 1965 by a few of the choral scholars of the Choir of King's College, Cambridge. They had decided to make a private recording of some of the secular music they had been working on, calling themselves "Schola Cantorum Pro Musica Profana in Cantabridgiense". They commissioned 100 pressings to keep and give to friends and families. From this start, the six (Martin Lane, Alastair Hume, Neil Jenkins, Richard Salter, Simon Carrington, and Brian Kay) decided to undertake a tour, and booked themselves as "Six Choral Scholars from King's College".
All at Once Well Met: English Madrigals. The tour was a success, and a new name – the King's Singers, suggested by an Argo Records executive – was chosen. Their first concert officially took place on May 1, 1968. By 1971, the King's Singers had drawn considerable attention in England and began making their first recordings. By Appointment and The King's Music appeared in 1971 and 1972, respectively. In the 1980s, the King's Singers experienced their first personnel changes, but the group's popularity remained high, bolstered by a heavy touring schedule that even included an appearance on Johnny Carson's Tonight Show. Then-recent recordings, like their All at Once Well Met: English Madrigals (1985) and Beatles Connection (1986), achieved impressive sales.
The King's Singers continue to entertain audiences with their music, maintaining their meticulous style through numerous changes in their lineup. The longest-serving member of the group was Alastair Hume, who remained with the King's Singers until the end of their 1992 season. Several former members, such as Nigel Short and Gabriel Crouch, have established successful solo careers. Members of the 2016-2017 season included Patrick Dunachie and Timothy Wayne-Wright, countertenors; Julian Gregory, tenor; Christopher Bruerton and Christopher Gabbitas, baritones; and Jonathan Howard, bass.
Simple GiftsThe King's Singers have made several dozen recordings of a wide variety of music for several labels, everything from madrigals and motets to Japanese folk songs to a cappella arrangements of pop songs. They have also commissioned a large number of new compositions from composers such as Luciano Berio, György Ligeti, Toru Takemitsu, James MacMillan, and Gabriela Lena Frank. They also teach masterclasses and summer programs for young musicians. In 2009, the King's Singers won a Grammy Award for their recording Simple Gifts, on the Signum label. They were also part of Eric Whitacre's 2012 Grammy-winning recording Light & Gold. The King's Singers continue to perform, frequently to sold-out audiences, and make recordings that are not only critically admired but also much loved by fans.
Source: Rovi Staff (allmusic.com)
Photos of The King's Singers: Ben Wright (2011)
The King's Singers: America – Paul Simon, Peter Cetera, Randy Newman, Jimmy Webb, Don McLean – English Chamber Orchestra, Carl Davis (Audio video)
The King's Singers: Christmas Concert 2011 (HD 1080p)