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The Best of the King's Singers
Track Listing at end of review
SIGNUM SIGCD297 [71:13 + 70:22]
Signum is the latest home of The King’s Singers and the label has been busy with them, setting down disc after disc. This set offers a tempting sample under the headings of Classical and Light.
Disc 1 presents the ensemble's ‘Classical’ face. I had some misgivings about pop balances. I was wrong. While we are sometimes given classical movements rather than whole works the approach neatly treads the perilous path between purism and exultant appeal. The tracks from Kreek, Tavener and Byrd all feel the pull of early church music. I was extremely taken with this first disc, which ends on a yet higher note with Libby Larson's Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?
Disc 2 is entitled Light. It's a more popular line-up this time. A close-up pop balance caresses the ears with King's own brand of caramel smooth honey. You can almost see the singers leaning towards you and snapping their fingers on occasion; in fact they do just that in Straighten Up. There's a high 'ooooh' quotient in the sound of these singers and their signature is driven further home by the sweet and high presence of two counter-tenors. Clever instrumental emulations can be found here - a good example is the Billy Joel classic She's Always a Woman to Me. There are some traditional items among the pop tracks, though each is given a studio make-over as in The Gift to Be Simple. Irving Berlin's Blue Skies gets the full classily aristocratic treatment. The voices are hyper-English without 1950s cut-glass.
The words are not reproduced in the booklet which lists the tracks - poorly contrasted text and background - alongside details of other King’s albums from Signum and a quick overview of the ensemble’s history. Signum have every right to preen themselves on having the King’s Singers to themselves.
In the same general region I wonder when will someone move to reissue Swingle II's delectable 1977 RCA LP (RL 25112) of music by Debussy, Ravel, Poulenc, Elgar, Britten, Vaughan Williams and Stanford.
This is a class act and a good entry point. Signum has plenty more where this comes from.
Come in from the cold and warm yourself by the King’s Singers’ crackling logs.
Rob Barnett

Track Listing
CD 1
1. Õnnis on inimene Cyrillus Kreek 2:11
2. Gloria William Byrd 5:53
3. In Monte Oliveti Carlo Gesualdo 4:42
4. Bogoroditsye Dyevo Arvo Part 1:03
5. Civitas sancti tui William Byrd 5:06
6. The Lamb John Tavener 3:23
7. Mon Dieu, j'ai en toi esperance - Psalm 7 Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck 4:38
8. My heart is a holy place Patricia Van Ness 4:02
9. Versa est in luctum Juan Gutierrez de Padilla 3:24
10. In ieiunio et fletu Diogo Dias Melgas 2:50
11. Shir hama'a lot. Ashrei koi yere - Psalm 128 Salamone Rossi Hebreo 3:53
12. Esti Dal Zoltan Kodaly 3:16
13. Rakastava Jean Sibelius 7:45
14. Calme des Nuits Camille Saint-Saens 3:12
15. Music, When Soft Voices Die Edward Bairstow 2:14
16. Lightly she whipped o'er the dales John Mundy 3:13
17. The Silver Swan Orlando Gibbons 1:46
18. Days, from Even such is time Bob Chilcott 1:59
19. Lux Aurumque Eric Whitacre 3:41
20. Shall I Compare Thee...? Libby Larsen 3:00

CD 2
21. Lullabye - Goodnight, my angel Billy Joel 4:04
22. You are the new day John David 2:40
23. She's always a woman to me Billy Joel 3:22
24. Greensleeves Trad. English 3:03
25. Valparaiso Sting 3:49
26. Hide and Seek Imogen Heap 5:12
27. Home M. Buble, A. Foster-Gillies, A. Chang 3:53
28. Straighten up and fly right N. K. Cole, I. Mills 4:08
29. The gift to be simple Trad. American 2:09
30. Blue Skies I. Berlin 3:26
31. Recipe for Love Harry Connick, Jr 3:07
32. Hallelujah Leonard Cohen 5:03
33. Swing low, sweet chariot Trad. American 3:02
34. I'm yours Jason Mraz 3:39
35. Silent Love Mia Makaroff 3:26
36. Blackbird J. Lennon, P. McCartney 2:49
37. After the Goldrush Neil Young 3:06
38. Out of the woods Sinead Lohan 4:12
39. Swimming over London B. Chilcott, C. Bennett 3:12
40. Steal away Trad. Spiritual 2:56