In Celebration of the Human Voice - The Essential Musical Instrument
25 years ago, when five singers and a vocally talented pianist came together as an ensemble, they had one goal in mind: the voices, each with its own individual artistic qualities, should come together to form a unique Ensemble, balancing the soloist voices in unified effort and presenting a wide variety of repertoire at the highest level.
Through the quality of the voices alone, the Singphoniker are able to evoke moods and emotions like no other vocal group. With Gregorian Chorales they call up the mystery and spirituality of a medieval monastery. Madrigals of the Renaissance are transformed into living pictures of 16th century life. The internal emotional world of the Romantic era is brought to life through the songs of Franz Schubert, Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy and Robert Schumann. The cheeky frivolity of the "Golden 20's" comes to life in the hits of the Comedian Harmonists. And the unique Flower Power spirit of the 60's and 70's is reborn in the gentle songs of Simon & Garfunkel.
Their interpretation of contemporary folk music inspires through a fascinating and uniquely natural sound. It therefore comes as no surprise that the Singphoniker inspire composers to write music for them time and time again. Enjott Schneider's "Variationen uber die Liebe", a series of portraits using texts from personal ads, brought the group success in 1984. Another big success came in 2005 with the world premier of Wilfred Hillers church Opera "Augustinus".
Over the past 25 years, the Singphoniker have regularly appeared in concert series and major music festivals in Germany, Europe, Asia and America. Numerous award winning CD recordings of the ensemble are a testament to the quality of its artistic diversity and flexibility.
As the name implies - whatever the "Singphoniker" sing, everything is approached with the same high standards. So as not to become too serious, however, they season their programmes with a pinch of masterly "singphonic" irony. This is made possible by the perfectly balanced subtlety of the male soloist voice ensemble, in which each individually characterized voice is assimilated in the homogeneity of a combined sound.
The model for this type of skilful ensemble singing was provided by the unforgettable Comedian Harmonists. It was their arrangements that - over twenty years ago- inspired six Munich conservatory students to sing together. In the current line-up of Markus Geitner, Daniel Schreiber, Christian Schmidt, Henning Jensen, Michael Mantaj and the pianist Berno Scharpf the ensemble with its unpretentious performances and cleverly selected programmes ranks among the leading specialists in vocal chamber music. This claim is emphatically proven by their presence in the concert hall and the internet (www.singphoniker.de) and their meanwhile over 30 CDs, mainly on their regular label cpo.
Despite this, it would certainly be misguided to see parody and mimicry as the sole features of the "singphonic" style. With the same precision the "Singphoniker" undertake expeditions into the sociable art of 19th century ensemble singing. In complete recordings or extensive selections they present vocal arrangements by Michael Haydn, Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy, Konradin Kreutzer and brand-new, "Singphonic Grieg". The prize-winning complete recording of all of Franz Schubert's arrangements for vocal ensemble set standards in his bicentennial year 1997. Thematically oriented programmes such as a selection of drinking songs through the centuries, Christmas-time vocal music or spiritual literature also extend beyond a mere hit parade. Thanks to the flexibility of the vocal ensemble and the competent advice of Godehard Joppich, the expert on Gregorian chant, the "Singphoniker" are now also leaders where Gregorian chant is concerned.
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Review: The German men's vocal sextet Die Singphoniker was established in the early '80s and has made it its mission to take on a promiscuous variety of music, including plainsong, the repertoires of music for men's voices of the Baroque, Classical, Romantic, and Modern eras, as well as folk song and American popular song. In this album the group brings its commitment to diversity to new level. Taking Pierre de la Rue's Requiem, Missa pro fidelibus defunctis (ca. 1506) as its central work, the group intersperses its seven movements with a wild variety of other pieces, including the spiritual Deep River; a movement from Weill's Berliner Requiem; German folk songs; contemporary pieces by Einojuhani Rautavaara, Knut Nystedt, and Hans Schanderl; and arrangements of songs by Sting and Eric Clapton. Even as a recital, this assortment would make for a pretty eccentric mix, but the group takes the further provocative step of describing the album as a unified work: Fragile: A Requiem for Male Voices. Much space in the program notes is given over to debating the pros and cons of the propriety of making such a designation, but the prevailing argument is that the human voice provides the organic unifying element that does in fact allow the diverse pieces to be heard as parts of a larger whole. Listeners will certainly have a variety of opinions on the success of the enterprise, but for those who can approach it as the performers intended it, as a tool for contemplation rather than the subject of analytical dissection, the album has an intuitively meaningful flow.Die Singphoniker may not have quite the level of polish or the velvety blend of other a cappella groups like Chanticleer or the King's Singers, but it is still an excellent ensemble that delivers nuanced and spirited performances. The singing in the demanding de la Rue Requiem is especially beautiful and the group provides the rhythmic punchiness that really brings it to life. The five songs in English may be problematic for English speakers because of the accents of the singers, particularly noticeable in the Sting and Clapton and in Deep River. Oehms' sound is terrific: clean, detailed, warm, and very present
Review: Their repertoire ranges from Gregorian chant to contemporary music - all the way to easy listening. After 25 years in the limelight, the six-voice vocal ensemble can look back on over 1000 concerts throughout the world. For the first time, however, the Singphoniker are releasing a CD with German folksongs. Their program consists of works by Silcher, Brahms and Reger, each of whom had a completely different approach to handling old tunes. Their common goal, however, was a desire to reacquaint their contemporaries with the vast treasures in the folk repertoire. The Singphoniker's CD will contribute to making known as well as unknown folksongs - which are not very at-home in the concert hall - resound again in the private environment: singing or humming along is expressly desired!
Vom Himmel Hoch
Review: This release from the remarkable male vocal group is a celebration of the intimate connection between music and Christmas throughout the world, regardless of different customs and languages. In this case the focus is on Europe, but the point is that no other celebration is so closely associated with such an abundant repertoire of songs, many of which are shared and often adapted to suit a particular culture or tradition. As usual, the six singers (plus a couple of "guests" on several tracks) perform first-rate arrangements (especially those by ensemble member Ludwig Thomas) of hymns and carols, including "Adeste fideles", "Es ist ein Ros entsprungen", "Quelle est cette odeur agreable", and "Stille Nacht". Along the way we hear other songs (many less-familiar) from Norway, Italy, England, the Netherlands, and Catalonia.
Review: Paul Simon is certainly one of America's finest contemporary songwriters and his songs with Art Garfunkel are pop classics. This recording is a wonderful choral setting of some of the best of these songs as performed by this top-notch vocal ensemble.
Review: The six German men who call themselves Die Singphoniker are virtuosos who specialize in very difficult pieces, from Gregorian chant to the Avantgarde, in this case bringing us some rarely-heard works of Romantic European music, partsongs by Richard Strauss and Max Reger. New interpreters of vocal chamber music of the 19th century, the group's success is measured in many awards and rave reviews: its last five CDs have received prizes. Included are 20 pieces, favorites are "Frohlich im Maien," "Hut du dich!," "Liebe op. 42,1," and Der Brauttanz op. 45,3" by Strauss; and "Liebchens Bote," Frohsinn op. 38,5," "Hochsommernacht op. 83,5" and "Minnelied op. 83,7" by Reger. Difficult, eclectic choral music, effortlessly and beautifully performed.
Review: The German Die Singphoniker emerged from the Music Academy of Munich in 1980. These six educated fellows were enchanted by the Comedian Harmonists, who preceded them as one of Germany's most popular vocal harmony groups; Die Singphoniker sound much like them (and bear more than a passing resemblance to England's King's Singers, as well). The sextet's scholarship led them to the works of Schubert, Lasso, Mendelssohn and others, and has resulted in many recordings through the years. This particular CD takes as its theme the "serenade," a song performed to express love for another. From this departure point, songs as disparate as "Paper Dolls" and Saint-Saens' "Serenade d'Hiver" are devoted companions; whether a madrigal ("Bon Jour Mon Coeur, " Lasso), or a standard ("Serenade In Blue," Warren), every track is impeccable. Three of the songs are accompanied by piano.
Review: Die Singphoniker, six talented German male singers, love to perform in concert and they love 19th century vocal chamber music, and audiences and judges clearly enjoy listening to them follow their hearts! Here we are treated to 23 such works by Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy (1809-1847). All are delightful, but some particular favorites are "Turkisches Schenkenlied," "Sommerlied," "Liebe und Wein," "Wanderlied," "Trinklied," "Abschiedstafel,""Jagdgesang," "Lob der Trunkenheit," and "Worauf kommt es uberall an." Beautiful, rarely-performed material, sung with spirit and panache by one of the world's finest male sextets.
Review: Focussing on little-known and rarely performed Romantic European vocal chamber music of the 19th century, the 6 men of Singphoniker bring us 12 difficult works by Gioacchino Rossini (1792-1868), and two by Franz Schubert, "La Pastorella" and "Der Gondelfahrer." Some favorites are "Chant funebre" (which includes some drums), "La Notte di Santo Natale," (with piano), "Choeur de chasseurs democrates," "L'invito," "La Danza," "Un Sou," and "Overture Guillaume Tell" (with piano). It's very clear, especially in this last cut, with the addition of silly sound effects, that the group is having big fun on stage and not taking themselves or the material too seriously. Good stuff!