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Love Songs: works by R Newman, Rodgers, Trenet et al

The King’s Singers (Signum Classics)

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

Love Songs
Songs by R Newman, Rodgers, Trenet, Harold Arlen, Kern, etc
The King’s Singers
Signum Classics SIGCD 565   65:03 mins

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A bastion of warmth, charm and meticulous vocal precision, The King’s Singers last year marked their 50th birthday. This appealing collection of love songs is an apt celebration, plucking tracks from five different albums by the group recorded during the last ten years, including the Grammy-winning ‘Simple Gifts’. Over the years, the ensemble has commissioned new works from such luminaries as Berio, Takemitsu and Ligeti, but this disc is unabashedly non-classical in flavour, comprising jazz standards and pop and folk songs from around the world, all bound neatly by the theme of love.

Among many highlights, Richard Rodney Bennett’s exquisite arrangement of Gershwin’s ‘Love is Here to Stay’ stands out, bringing sumptuous harmonies and a rhythmic simplicity that lets the group’s almost improbable sense of ensemble shine. Cleverly mobile arrangements from Phillip Lawson provide a good contrast, especially his lyrical interpretations of English folksong ‘I Love my Love’ and the Crosby, Stills and Nash classic ‘Helplessly Helping’. The disc also moves beyond English-language works with two fine Bob Chilcott arrangements: the lullaby-like ‘Tuoll on mun kultani’ from Finland and a delicate Korean melody ‘Arrirang’. Beautifully performed and with an appealing blend of popular hits and more unusual fare, this disc makes for an uplifting listen.

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Kate Wakeling