Die Singphoniker

...Just Songs!

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German vocal sextet Die Singphoniker celebrated its 30th anniversary with the release of this breezy collection, featuring its trademark mix of Renaissance vocal pieces and popular song arrangements, and the group has never been in better form. If you're not familiar with Die Singphoniker, its in the vein of Britain's King's Singers, offering a mixture of Renaissance vocal music and popular-song arrangements. But it's at once a bit more stolid and a bit more daring, which is the source of the group's considerable appeal. When singing in English there is no attempt to eliminate German accents, and somehow, when combined with considerable expressivity (especially in the case of countertenor Markus Geitner), this enhances the sincerity of the whole. The popular songs, usually alternating with Renaissance pieces, represent an unusual range of selections. When was the last time you heard "I'll Be There" arranged for vocal sextet? The pop-classical dividing line is blurred with the inclusion of pop songs of unusual harmonic complexity, such as Kurt Weill's masterpiece Septembersong (as the title is Germanically rendered here) Richard Rodgers' "My Funny Valentine," and the inclusion of Peter Gabriel's "Here Comes the Flood" breaks the usual exclusive focus on romantic themes. On the classical side, the arrangement of the William Tell Overture (track 13) is worth the purchase price in itself for the Indian percussion mnemonics that are used to ramp up the excitement. The fundamentals in the Renaissance pieces are never neglected, and the engineering from the studios of Bavarian Radio lives up to Oehms' usual impeccable standards. The end result: a hugely entertaining and supremely musical release.

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