Great American Songbook

Great American Songbook

by King's Singers
4.0 1

CD

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Overview

Great American Songbook

Britain's King's Singers have recorded popular music before, in among their usual Renaissance and contemporary fare, but the 2013 release Great American Songbook marked a departure from their earlier work in several ways. What you'll think of it may depend on how attached you are to the classic King's Singers a cappella sound, but there's no question that the group deserves credit for pushing its own boundaries after nearly half a century in existence. The album, as promised, consists of classics of American song from the Broadway and Tin Pan Alley era; the largest group is by Cole Porter, the sexual nature of whose lyrics takes on a somehow disembodied quality when sung by this group, and by Rodgers & Hart. The first new wrinkle lies in the arrangements, by British composer Alexander L'Estrange. They're unusually elaborate and well-tailored to the voices of the Singers, who have remained startlingly consistent in their sound over the years despite numerous changes in personnel. L'Estrange has a way of breaking the melodies down into individual atoms and distributing them among different singers, bringing to mind forms of contemporary composition. The second novelty here is the presence of an orchestra on disc two. The King's Singers have performed and recorded with orchestras before on many occasions, but the a cappella/orchestra division over two discs is more unusual. As it happens, they seem less enthusiastic about the orchestral music this time around; the second disc clocks in at just over 31 minutes, just slightly more than half the length of the first. The arrangements are less complex, and the group seems unenthused by the flaccid playing of the South Jutland Symphony Orchestra. The action is on the first disc, which does represent one of the King's Singers' more complex pieces of work. Finally there is the sound; Great American Songbook seems to contain more than the usual quota of multi-tracking and other electronic tweaking, although you don't really learn anything from the booklet other than a credit for "wonderful post-production magic." In all, an interesting new direction for a veteran a cappella vocal group.

Product Details

Release Date: 10/29/2013
Label: Signum Uk
UPC: 0635212034125
catalogNumber: 341
Rank: 106380

Album Credits

Performance Credits

King's Singers   Primary Artist,Vocal Ensemble
David Firman   Conductor
South Jutland Symphony Orchestra   Performing Ensemble

Technical Credits

Irving Berlin   Composer,Lyricist
Cy Coleman   Composer
Jimmy McHugh   Lyricist
Harold Arlen   Composer
Richard Rodgers   Composer
King's Singers   Liner Notes
Charles Trénet   Composer
Jerome Kern   Composer
Dorothy Fields   Lyricist
Mack Gordon   Lyricist
Arthur Hamilton   Composer,Lyricist
Lorenz Hart   Lyricist
Edward Heyman   Lyricist
Jack Lawrence   Lyricist
Cole Porter   Composer,Lyricist
Jonathan Rathbone   Orchestration
Harry Warren   Composer
Victor Young   Composer
Ted Koehler   Lyricist
Carolyn Leigh   Lyricist
Andrew Mellor   Engineer
Alexander L'Estrange   Arranger,Producer

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Great American Songbook 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
JimD More than 1 year ago
Brits take on the American songbook! Brits take on the American songbook! Although anything can turn up in a King’s Singers live concert, their albums have tended to be theme-based. Here the all-male sextet performs the repertoire collectively known as the Great American Songbook--by such writers as Porter, Berlin, Rodgers, and even Charles Trenet, whose “La Mer” became a hit for Bobby Darin when fitted out with English lyrics as “Beyond the Sea”—in new arrangements by Alexander L’Estrange (“Cheek to Cheek” has a clever musical joke for classical fans). The result is, like the Songbook itself, a mixed bag. Some of the humorous numbers are a bit cutesy, but the lushly-harmonized ballads are wonderful. A second bonus disc dresses up half of the a cappella selections with the addition of an orchestra (superfluous, IMO). The booklet doesn’t have the words to the songs, but you hardly need them: even if you haven’t known them all your life, the group’s diction is just fine, and their sound is as great as the music.