Music of peace and reconciliation, thoughtfully chosen and interpreted here by Harry Christophers, supplies the heart and soul of this superb disc. Works from East and West speak of shared human needs and the universality of divine belief. The collective message, buttressed by this album’s contemplative sublime stillness, provides a potent weapon against religious and political extremism. Tavener’s humble deeply respectful settings of the Exhortation ‘They shall not grow old’ and the heartbreaking Kohima prayer resonate with the young singers of The Sixteen, who invest their supreme vocal skills to honour those slaughtered in two world wards.Andrew Stewart, Classic FM, 5/1/2006
There's an Eastern Orthodox cast to much of this programme (nearer the surface on some pieces than others) with a Russian predominance so, apart from plenty of characteristic sonorous harmonies and celestial melodic shapes, some marvelous parts are given to the basses.
Most of the composers (and, indeed, many of the pieces) are well known. The most obscure are Vassily Kalinnikov and Pavel Chesnokov. Kalinnikov, only 35 when he died in 1901, concentrated on composing after ill- health forced him to retire from conducting. He is represented by a grave yet translucent setting of the Nunc dimittis. Chesnokov (1877-1944) also had a reputation as conductor as well as composer and teacher at the Moscow Conservatory. Political pressure from the Soviet authorities forced him to stop writing religious works in the latter part of his life. The two pieces included here show contrasting aspects of his style, Bless the Lord approaching the ecstatic, We hymn thee serene and meditative.
James MacMillan is represented by two unusually small-scale but instantly recognizable pieces, the Prayer an elegy for the children murdered at Dunblane, the Song a setting of Psalm 96. Holst might be expected to sound uncomfortably unexotic in this company but his Nunc Dimittis provides a conclusion that is as sumptuous as a newly upholstered hassock.
Even the most familiar works come up fresh, radiant and dazzlingly beautiful, and it's especially interesting to hear the Part pieces interpreted by someone other than Hillier or Kaljuste. This rich collection demonstrates yet again the superb quality of this justly celebrated choir.Barry Witherden , The Gramophone, 5/1/2006
John Tavener's triptych of pieces includes the intensely moving Song for Athene, an elegy now popularly linked with a famous funeral of recent memory, where it was performed. The other two - Exhortation and Kohima - are memorials.Christopher Ballantine, International Record Review, 6/1/2006