The King's Singers - Gold

Published Tuesday 5th December 2017
The King's Singers - Gold
The King's Singers - Gold

STYLE: Choral
RATING 10 10 10 10 10 10 10 10 10 10
LABEL: Signum REGCD500

This product is currently not available from Cross Rhythms Direct

Reviewed by Steven Whitehead

'Gold' celebrates The King's Singers' 50th anniversary in splendid style. Over the years the singers have changed but the formula remains the same: two countertenors, one tenor, two baritones and a bass singing in tight harmony, often unaccompanied. The plan had been to release a career-spanning retrospective but when the earliest recordings were played through modern systems the audio quality was not always good enough. No reflection on the original singers merely an observation that studio technology has moved on somewhat since 1967. The King's Singers have always worked to the same high standards so no studio tricks, other than occasional use of reverb, and no clever edits: if take one is not good enough they sing it again and these standards mean that, whatever they turn their vocal cords to, the sound remains the same. But not the song, as this wide-ranging and imaginative programme shows. So while the 2017 King's Singers have looked into their archive they have re-recorded the oldies and thrown in a generous selection of new material. Thus even die-hard King's Singers collectors will want this release and many will be happy to pay extra for the deluxe version with much more extensive liner notes than the three discs in a book set under review. The three discs are arranged thematically with 60 tracks divided across three albums, as 'Close Harmony', 'Spiritual' and 'Secular'. What unites every track across these albums is the quality of the material. Whether ancient motets, brand-new commissions or much-loved arrangements of close-harmony music from the last 50 years, The King's Singers have put together a selection of great music that reflects the extraordinary diversity of their repertoire. No one else could move so seamlessly from, to take two examples of many, the traditional "Loch Lomond" arranged by Robert Rice to U2's "MLK" in a glorious setting by Bob Chilcott, which are the closing tracks on the 'Close Harmony' disc. Elsewhere we go back to Palestrina's "Sicut Cervus" and right up to date with Eric Whitacre's "This Marriage" on the 'Spiritual' disc and while I could and should applaud every one of the 60 gems on this collection, these will have to serve as a taster. Here's to the next 50 years.

The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.

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