King's Singers

Gold

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Marking the 50th anniversary of the indefatigable King's Singers, this is not, as might be supposed, a compilation, but rather an entirely new recording containing 60 tracks "that, we feel, [represent] all the styles and musical epochs that The King's Singers have championed across five decades of performing and recording." This is praiseworthy in itself; better still is how excellent the whole thing is. There are crowd favorites, new arrangements, and newly commissioned pieces. The three volumes are titled Close Harmony, Spiritual, and Secular. The most novel is the first volume, with arrangements of popular material, where the group's renderings of the likes of John Legend and even Beninese Afro-pop singer Angélique Kidjo seem as fresh as their unexpected readings of Beatles songs from 50 years ago. The arrangements are by various composers, both within the group and without, but they are united by an appreciation of the Singers' distinctive style. A favorite unifying device is to offer a long free introduction that resolves itself unexpectedly into the tune at hand. Sample And I Love Her, a Beatles song unjustly devalued by rockism, and pieces by English composer Bob Chilcott, who takes honors for making it onto all three of the volumes (his psalm Thou, my love, art fair appears on the second volume, and he arranges a song by Juan de Anchieta on the final volume). The second volume shows the group's continuing mastery of the pure English style from Renaissance to Romantic, and the Secular volume is as diverse as the pop set, ranging effortlessly from Josquin Desprez to Toru Takemitsu. Highly recommended.

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