Live at the BBC Proms / King's Singers

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Despite the somewhat sterile concert-hall ambiance, this King's Singers' performance at the 2008 BBC Proms gives listeners a fair representation of the group's live concerts, in this case a sort of celebration/retrospective of the celebrated ensemble's 40-year history. There are several folksong arrangements (honoring King's Singers arrangers Gordon Langford, Philip Lawson, and Bob Chilcott), several madrigals and partsongs--staples of the group's rich and varied repertoire--and, perhaps the program's highlight, Poulenc's rarely-heard set of six Chansons Françaises Op. 130. There's virtuosity aplenty, most effectively displayed in Janequin's challenging "battle" piece, La Guerre, John McCabe's Scenes in America Deserta (written for the King's Singers), and in an entertaining if musically ill-advised fit of overexuberance, the fastest rendition of Passereau's Il est bel et bon ever recorded.

The sense of "you are there" is confirmed by the group's frequent informative (and often humorous) talks to the audience, and by the inclusion of applause after each piece (not a plus for many CD listeners!), but there are certainly times where our enjoyment of the concert would be enhanced if we could only see the singers' onstage interaction and outward presentation to the audience (in fact, a DVD of this concert is available). Ultimately, this is a very satisfying recital that showcases the King's Singers and many of their classic concert pieces in one of Britain's hallowed events and performing venues. If you're a fan, you've already reserved a spot for this disc in your collection; if you're new to the King's Singers, one listen to this entertaining, characterful concert will have you looking for more.

--David Vernier,

Product Description:

  • Catalog Number: SIGCD150

  • UPC: 635212015025

  • Label: Signum Classics

  • Composer: Arthur Sullivan, Clément Janequin, Francis Poulenc, Frederick Bridge, John McCabe, John Rogers, John William Hobbs, Orlando de Lassus, Pierre Passereau, Traditional

  • Orchestra/Ensemble: King's Singers