In 1997, the Holst Singers and Stephen Layton produced a disc that immediately became a cult classic and a best-seller. IKON, a selection of great Russian choral music from the 19th century, dazzled with its grand, opulent beauty. Now the same forces return with IKON II. Many of the works recorded on this disc are by composers whose names will not be familiar – but the extraordinary quality of the music is unmistakable and immediately enthralling.
“Impeccable… so, so well-conceived” BBC Radio 3 Record Review
‘The remarkable performances of the Holst Singers, securely balanced on the tightrope between pianissimo sensitivity and full-throated veneration… The intonation is faultless across all the registers here, diction is clear and the choral sound is beautifully homogenized – there doesn’t seem to be a weak voice anywhere. Nor is there a weak piece: all 22 items blaze with devout passion. With the volume turned up, one after another brought up the hair on the back of my neck … This is a glorious CD and it should bring you much pleasure’ (International Record Review)
‘The programme is scrupulously prepared, with excellent pronunciation, idiomatic timbres anda fine fusion of ardent communication and sensitive shaping. The disc was recorded in the superb acoustic of All Hallows, Gospel Oak, London, and Ivan Moody’s informative essay is an indispensable bonus’ (Gramophone)
‘Performing with insight and commendable Russian sonority, the Holst Singers have cast their net wide in this survey of Orthodox Church music. The main focus is the pre-Revolution period of the early 20th century, with Pavel Chesnokov generously represented. But he and other composers found ways of reconciling inventiveness with the Church’s constraints, and such rarities as César Cui’s Magnificat, together with works by Shvedov, Kastalsky and more familiar Rachmaninoff, make for a fascinating spectrum’ (The Daily Telegraph)
‘In hymns, prayers, invocations and anthems. These composers draw on ancient chant to produce music which is always passionate … Beautifully captured by the Holst Singers’ (Choir & Organ Magazine)