From the Heart
Patricia VAN NESS
My Heart is a Holy Place
Graham LACK
Pie Jesu
[3:18] (arr. Philip Lawson)
Sinead LOHAN
Out of the Woods
(arr. Philip Lawson)
Leonard COHEN
(arr. Philip Lawson)
The King’s Singers (David Burley, Timothy Wayne-Wright (counter-tenors), Paul Phoenix (tenor), Philip Lawson, Christopher Gabbitas (baritones), Stephen Connolly (bass))
rec. The Warehouse, London, 15 July 2009. DDD

A sadly uninspiring disc from The King’s Singers, this opens with the rather lugubrious My Heart is a Holy Place by Patricia Van Ness – which rather sets the tone for the rest of the programme. It is followed by music from Graham Lack, Sinead Lohan and Philip Lawson. We also hear Classic FM John Brunning’s Pie Jesu, arranged by The King’s Singers’ baritone Philip Lawson; I’m not really sure that accompanying Pie Jesu with repeated doo-doo-doos is especially appropriate. The disc concludes with a final Lawson arrangement, this time of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah - a far cry, alas, from Jeff Buckley’s heart-rending version. This brings the disc to a whopping great 20 minutes playing time. An EP disc, then, rather than a serious release.
As for the singing - and I am usually a fan of The King’s Singers – well, the sound they produce is very breathy. It’s lacking in focus - in this respect it fully suits these “fluffy”, rather unfocused works. Some variety of dynamics and texture would have been good. One rather suspects that the acoustic is artificial. Attempts at American accents in Out of the Woods waver oddly.
More offensive, however, is the CD booklet: there are incredibly brief notes on the works performed; no proper biographies of the composers and yet a comparatively vastly long biography of the King’s Singers, taking up three sections of the fold-out sheet. When one opens said sheet fully and turns it over, lo and behold – a giant photograph of The King’s Singers on the reverse. This disc appears to be wholly a publicity drive for the group, rather than being about the music, as the notes that do squeeze in manage to be both irritating and superficial at the same time. This sits somewhat awkwardly with the assertion in the group’s extensive biography that “the ethos of The King’s Singers has always been that it’s all about the music”. Well, perhaps.

Em Marshall-Luck

A sadly uninspiring disc.