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King's Singers: Great American Songbook *

Track List

>Best Is Yet to Come, The
>Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered
>Let's Misbehave
>Night and Day
>Cry Me a River
>I've Got the World on a String
>When I Fall in Love
>It's De-lovely
>Beyond the Sea
>Cheek to Cheek
>Begin the Beguine
>At Last
>I've Got You Under My Skin
>Lady Is a Tramp, The
>My Funny Valentine
>I Won't Dance
>Ev'ry Time We Say Goodbye
>Let's Misbehave
>Begin the Beguine
>At Last
>It's De-lovely
>Lady Is a Tramp, The
>My Funny Valentine
>I've Got the World on a String
>Ev'ry Time We Say Goodbye

Album Remarks & Appraisals:

Around the time The King's Singers was starting up, one of the most productive periods of songwriting in history was coming to a close in America, starting with composers such as Gershwin, Kern, Berlin and Porter in the early 1920s, and continuing through to the early 1960s. // In this new 2-CD studio recording - featuring brand new a cappella arrangements by jazz composer and arranger Alexander L'Estrange, and swing-orchestra performances with the South Jutland Symphony Orchestra - The King's Singers bring their own unique performance style to this wonderful music.

The Times, 19th October 2013
Kern, Porter, Berlin and Rodgers given very British close-harmony treatment: you will either love it or think it insufferably twee. I'm mostly in the love camp, especially when Alexander L'Estrange's delicious arrangements go naughtily off-piste, most bizarrely in a mash-up of Cheek to Cheek and Fauré's Requiem.

MusicWeb International, 27th November 2013
The delivery is polished and each number is delivered in a slick, not-a-hair-out-of-place fashion - and that's the problem, especially when the singing is heard in such close-up sound. It all seems too perfect, too manicured...In the introduction to It's de-lovely everything was calculated to perfection but I just wanted the singers to let go a bit.

Album Notes

Liner Note Author: King's Singers.

Recording information: Alsion Concert Hall, Sonderberg, Denmark (01/2013); Floating Earth, London, England (01/2013); Alsion Concert Hall, Sonderberg, Denmark (03/11/2013-03/13/2013); Floating Earth, London, England (03/11/2013-03/13/2013).

Photographer: Susan Porter-Thomas .

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. ~ James Manheim



Reviews

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.
Submitted on 02/16/14 by Jim D. 
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