I just returned from a King's Singers concert, given at McCarter Theater in Princeton. There was a schedule lying around in the Graduate Assistant office this morning, and I happened to pick it up and glance through it. I noticed that the King's Singers were singing tonight! So, despite vast amounts of work I ought to be doing, I decided to be spontaneous, and ran down to the theater this evening and took in their concert.
They were fabulous, as always. A tight-knit ensemble, but very individually expressive - real chamber music. One of the charming things about the King's Singers is that they never sound like anyone else. In the first half, where they sang some madrigals, a set by Estonian Cyrillus Kreek, and some Spanish Renaissance music, the tuning was not as impeccable as I might have liked, possibly owing to fairly new counter-tenor Robin Tyson, who doesn't yet have quite the beautiful flexibility and ease in his voice that David Hurley does. He occasionally sounded like he was pushing upwards rather than floating. But any quibbles disappeared in the second half, where the group performed two works they commissioned by Jackson Hill and Takemitsu, which were stunning, and their signature popular rep, which is just the tightest sound you can imagine.
One of the great things about the King's Singers is that they maintain a sense of humor while never sacrificing the quality of the music. They are entertainers as well as consummate musicians, one reason for their popularity. Possibly my new favorite in the group is tenor Paul Phoenix, who danced a little during the Spanish Renaissance music. Watching someone boogie down to Renaissance music gave me a warm fuzzy feeling and reminded me of my old college group the Williams Elizabethans. He also had a few stunning solos, in particular during one of the Spanish pieces called Rodrigo Martinez, and during the Beatles' Blackbird. Chris Gabbitas had a lovely baritone solo during Billy Joel's Only A Woman. Philip Lawson had only one extremely brief solo, which was sad - I would have liked to hear him highlighted more. Although I picked on Tyson earlier, he and David Hurley had a wonderful high sound together, and Stephen Connolly held down the low end of things with flair. Their encore was an Italian version of "Old MacDonald", which inspired equal parts laughter and awe - the perfect blend of their talents.
And really, David Hurley bleating "maa" like a sheep is the cutest thing I've heard all year.