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If you don’t enjoy the Swingles, you should immediately take your own pulse or have a friend hold a mirror to your tasteless lips for signs of life. They are now, of course, not so much an ensemble as an institution and an academy of singing, generously sharing the studio with various other choirs who must still be pinching themselves. There is even a spoken word cameo by the late Ward Swingle on Debussy’s La cathédrale engloutie, which was arranged by and features a piano part by the English jazz musician John Taylor, who also died in 2015. ‘CLYM’, with the credit line Iain David McGeachy, might seem like an obscure source until you realise that McGeachy is John Martyn and the song is ‘Couldn’t Love You More’, one of the three or four finest of the last 30 years. Thurston Dart told the young Michael Nyman that if he wanted to hear Bach sung as Bach should be sung, he should listen to the Swingle Singers, and there, right at the end is ‘Two Sisters’, Bach plus traditional lyrics. Miraculous.

BRIAN MORTON Read the full review on Agora Classica


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