The King's Singers Romance du Soir Review

Album. Released 2009.  

BBC Review

If only all artists could find such an elegant way of bridging these two musical worlds.

Charlotte Gardner 2009

It would be hard to find a more versatile group than The King's Singers. Who else is as much respected for their Beatles arrangements as their Weelkes? Romance du Soir, with its olden-day popular songs of love, is the group's attempt at ''plugging the gap between our recent serious and light recordings''. If only all artists could find such an elegant way of bridging these two musical worlds.

As the title suggests, this is a disc tinted with candlelit tenderness, and the tone is correspondingly mellow. There is variety aplenty though, both in the breadth of repertoire, which spans from the fifteenth century through to the twenty-first, and in the colours and textures the individual pieces offer. Some, such as Saint Saens' ''Serenade d'Hiver'' and Arthur Sullivan's ''The Long Day Closes'', will be familiar to Kings Singers fans, but there are also little nuggets of newly-discovered gold resting amongst the old repertoire. The quartet that gives the disc its title, Saint-Saens' ''Romance du Soir'' manages dainty lushness in the way that only the French can. Then there is Ludwig Senfl's adorable ''Ach Elslein'' (''To Elsie, my dear little Elsie''). Senfl may not be a familiar name now, but in 1534 this song was one of 121 new songs published in Nuremburg by 'famous' composers, and the simple lament would melt the hardest heart. Another highlight is the four-song A Lover's Journey cycle, composed for the group in 2001 by Libby Larson.

Everything, from the enthusiastically informative programme notes to the sound itself, shouts of the extraordinary musicianship that has kept this group at the top of the musical heap for forty years. The balancing of voices, their almost-eerie technical perfection, their awareness of the relationship between text and harmony, their musical inquisitiveness and joyful unstuffiness... I could go on. It's a wonderful programme, and a disc I shall be returning to often.

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