WORKS: Cohen: Hallelujah; Ness: My Heart is a Holy Place; Lohan/ Creek: Out of the Woods; Lack: Conceit; Brunning: Pie Jesu
PERFORMER: The King’s Singers
CATALOGUE NO: SIGCD177
The King’s Singers have, as their many fans will testify, astonishing technical facility, and bring artistry to much of the music in their wide-ranging repertoire.
This ‘double choir’ arrangement (achieved by studio multi-tracking) of Leonard Cohen’s ‘Hallelujah’, however, is a misjudgement: the pristine harmonies, prim English accents, and a couple of countertenor verses skirting unintentional comedy, seem jarringly inappropriate in a song of such palpably, occasionally messy emotional content.
If you know Jeff Buckley’s definitive version, this one is likely to have you catching your breath for different reasons.
The other pieces on this five-track ‘EP’ selection are less exceptionable. Oddly, the Singers espouse a more obviously relaxed, mid-Atlantic approach to diction in ‘Out of the Woods’ (from a bluegrass original), resulting in an altogether more convincing performance.
‘My Heart is a Holy Place’ (Patricia van Ness) and ‘Pie Jesu’ (John Brunning) both major on comfortably lyrical religiosity, immaculate but unlikely to rattle too many cages spiritually. By contrast, Graham Lack’s ‘Conceit’ is far and away the finest piece here musically, setting a Mervyn Peake poem with genuine harmonic imagination. Overall, then, a decidedly mixed bag. Terry Blain