The brilliant, white, celestial light Tavener so effectively evoked earlier in the decade [1990s] had a chill core. Here gold seeps in, along with the deep blue traditionally associated with portraits of the Virgin.
Barry Witherden, Grammophone, 11/1/2004
The power of Tavener at his best is fully unlocked by Polyphony and Stephen Layton, whose sensitivity to the sacred and human in his music communicates in every work on this disc. Butterfly Dreams and Schuon Hymnen stand out as exceptional in terms of their sheer transcendant beauty. The corporate sympathy for music that rewards and never vexes performers of this calibre adds to the intensity of the listening experience. Unmissable.
Andrew Stewart, Classic fM Magazine, 10/1/2004
Most impressive of the longer works is Schuon Hymnen, setting German words by the Sufi sheikh Frithjof Schuon, with verses and refrains bringing sharp contrasts between powerful unisons and distant choral comment, punctuated by matra-like phrases for solo tenor. Birthday Sleep, setting a Vernon Watkins poem, brings attractively scrunching harmonies, and Butterfly Dreams delightfully captures the insect's fluttering.
Edward Greenfield, The Guardian, 9/10/2004
Stephen Layton and his excellent choir Polyphony have assembled a valuable sequence of works written between 1996 and last year; five are première recordings.
Tavener's mastery of the choral instrument is nowhere in doubt - As One Who Slept (1996) is an archetypal example of the composer's ability to create rich musical meaning from the simplest of materials.
Layton's discography with Polyphony shows a real concentration on twentieth-century music, especially from Britain, so they undoubtedly have the right pedigree for Tavener. The usual Hyperion recording team of Mark Brown and Julian Millard captures excellently the acoustics of The Temple Church in London, where Layton is Director of Music … this disc is an essential survey of the composer's recent musical concerns, and contains some splendid new music.
Francis Knights, International Record Review, 10/1/2004
John Tavener remains as productive as ever - as witness this collection of recent choral works. Tavener finds devoted interpreters in Polyphony who produce some of the most beautiful choral singing you could ever hope to hear. And all is captured in a glowing recording.
Anthony Burton, BBC Music Magazine, 11/1/2004
This is a brand new collection of Tavener's most recent works, only released this month. The collection of tracks is varied and beautiful, and the performance by Polyphony under the direction of Stephen Layton is excellent. Do buy this disc - it would be a worthy addition to any CD collection.
Leah Perona-Wright, Church Music Quarterly, 9/1/2004
A collection of choral works with Polyphony, recently released on the Hyperion label, is by far the most satisfying and artistically impressive of the many collections of Tavener's music. Thanks to a combination of idiomatic interpretations by artists who know and understand the composer's vision, and a natural and wide-ranging recording, the strength and integrity of Tavener's music shines through with persuasive conviction. The artlessly moving spiritual vistas opened up by the harmonic transformations of Birthday Sleep (1999) are developed further in Schuon Hymnen (2003) and Shunya (2003), which inhabit the same ecstatic, primal sound-world as The Veil of the Temple. All the pieces on this immensely satisfying disc are interpreted with simple dedication.
Paul Conway, Tempo, 10/1/2005