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Early Music

Classical Editor: Rob Barnett                               Founder Len Mullenger

KING’S SINGERS: Renaissance
Disc 1:
William BYRD (1543? - 1623): Motet: Haec dies (6vv) [2’04]; Communion Anthem: Beati viscera mariae virginis (5vv) [1’53]; Chant: Ave verum corpus (3vv) (pub.1605) [4’28]; Motet: Vigilate (5vv) (pub.1589) [4’24]; Introit: Viri galilei (5vv) (pub.1607) [2’36]; Anthem: O Lord, make thy servant Elizabeth, our queen (6vv) [3’41]; Anthem: Sing joyfully unto God our strength (6vv) [2’14]; Motet: Laudibus in sanctis (5vv) (pub.1591) [4’39]
Thomas TALLIS (c.1505 - 1585): Hymn: Te lucis ante terminum I (5vv) (pub.1575; incl. in Cantiones Sacrae) [2’13]; Hymn: Te lucis ante terminum II (5vv) (pub.1575) [1’50]; Lamentations of Jeremiah - first lectio: (5vv) [7’42]; Lamentations of Jeremiah - second lectio (5vv) [12’04]; Anthem: If ye love me (4vv) [2’33]
Anonymous SPANISH (fl.1500): Villancico: enemiga le soy, madre [2’05]; Romance: dindirin, dindirin [2’04]; Villancico: rodrigo martinez [1’43]; Villancico: !oh, que bien que baila gil! [2’26]
Francisco GUERRERO (1528 - 1599): Motet: Antes que comais a dios [2’46]
Juan Gutierres de PADILLA (c.1590 - 1664): Lamentatio Jeremiae: aleph, quomodo sedet sola civitas (6vv) [2’42]
Santiago de MURCIA (c.1650) Baile de negros: Zarambeques [2’31]
Disc 2:
Josquin DESPREZ (c.1440 - 1521): Motet: Benedicta es, caelorum regina (6vv) [6’15]; Vous l’arez s’il vous plaist (6vv) [1’41]; Vous ne l’arez pas (6vv) [1’43]; A la mort/monstra (3vv) [1‘35]; Motet: O virgo virginum (6vv) [5’59]; Nymphes nappees (6vv) [3’05]; Chanson: En l’ombre d’un buissonet au matinet (3vv) [1’35]; Regretz sans fin (6vv) [6’47]; Chanson: Allegez moy, doulce plaisant brunette (6vv) [1’20]; Absolve quesumus (6vv) [3’41]; Pour souhaiter (6vv) [1’37]; Chanson: Mille regretz (4vv) [1.48]; Si congie prens (6vv) [3’05]; Ce povre/Pauper sum ego (3vv) [1’31]; Motet: O virgo prudentissima (6vv) [8’04]; Chanson: Petite camusette (6vv) [1’05]; Chanson: Nymphes des bois/Requiem (5vv) [5’31]; Chanson: En l’ombre d’un buissonet au matinet (3vv) [1’48]; Chanson: Basies moy (6vv) [1’33]; Chanson: Baises moy (6vv) [1’45]; Pater noster/Ave Maria (6vv) [7’37]
The King’s Singers (David Hurley, Nigel Short, Alastair Hume - Counter-tenors, Robert Chilcott, Paul Phoenix - Tenors, Bruce Russell, Philip Lawson, Gabriel Crouch, Simon Carrington - Baritones, Stephen Connolly - Bass)
The Harp Consort (in the Spanish repertoire only) (Hille Perl - Viola da gamba, lirone, guitar, maracas; Keith McGovan - Bajon; Steven Player - Guitars, tambor; Lee Santana - Vihuela, guitar, cittern; Michael Metzler - Tambor, pandero, panderetila, darabuka, castanets; Andrew Laurence-King - Director, harp, organ, psaltery)
Recorded in 1994 (English) 1999 (Spanish) 1992 (French)
RCA RED SEAL 74321 88686-2 Artistes + Repertoires [2CDs: 69’02+69’36]


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The King’s Singers made their first recording in 1971 (still available on Chandos) and in the interim their personnel has changed at fairly regular intervals after 20 years of initial steadiness. They were one of the first groups to emerge from the influence of the Deller Consort, and I have fond memories of hearing and seeing them "live" at several concerts, and still possess several LPs and tapes of their previous repertoire. There are only two of the original group left, Alastair Hume and Simon Carrington. This compilation has been taken from three previous releases and presented in one of BMG’s awful folding cardboard/plastic aberrations with sketchy, inaccurate notes.

So, what of the performances? Needless to say they are all very good; the King’s Singers were always very listenable,and there is no exception here. The difference most noticeable to me from previous incarnations is that they are much more smooth - almost too smooth. In previous releases, one of the enjoyable aspects of their singing was the vigour and gusto that was meted out where applicable. The pieces which suffer most are the well-known English anthems and motets, and I found myself wishing for a more vigorous approach at times. The Spanish items, all with accompaniment from the excellent Harp Consort, fare better in this respect. The other factor in comparison now is the near-plethora of very good vocal groups which have sprung up in the last ten to fifteen years, and we have come to expect the very best in all performances. The Josquin unaccompanied vocal items probably come out best with this style of singing, and a very high counter-tenor is much involved in these. The notes do try to give some indication as to who is singing what, but only in the most general way, and it is virtually impossible to identify individual participation.

In summary, if you like the selection, you will enjoy this disc, particularly as a double at single mid-price; but oh! the packaging.

John Portwood

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