On April Third 2006 Universal Classics is Delighted to Release their Follow-up Album from Brit-award Winning Ensemble, the Sixteen Conducted by Harry Christophers. This Second Disc, Ikon - Music for the Soul and Spirit, is... more » a Collection of Choral Works with an Inherently Spiritual Theme. It Follows the Huge Critical and Commercial Success of Renaissance - Music for Inner Peace which Won the Group Ensemble/Orchestral Album of the Year at the Classical Brits 2005 and Has Sold Over 62,000 Copies.« less
On April Third 2006 Universal Classics is Delighted to Release their Follow-up Album from Brit-award Winning Ensemble, the Sixteen Conducted by Harry Christophers. This Second Disc, Ikon - Music for the Soul and Spirit, is a Collection of Choral Works with an Inherently Spiritual Theme. It Follows the Huge Critical and Commercial Success of Renaissance - Music for Inner Peace which Won the Group Ensemble/Orchestral Album of the Year at the Classical Brits 2005 and Has Sold Over 62,000 Copies.
"Music for the Soul and Spirit" is a most appropriate title!
Grady Harp | Los Angeles, CA United States | 12/13/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"IKON is yet another release from The Sixteen conducted by Harry Christophers, an amazingly gifted group that here presents music throughout the ages meant to elevate the soul from the cleavage of the earth to peaks of serenity that only music of this manner can provide. Along with soloists Julie Cooper, Elin Manahan Thomas and Grace Davidson, sopranos, Mark Dobell, tenor, Charles Fullbrook, percussion, and Huw Williams, organ the Sixteen Choir performs otherworldly, perfectly pitched and toned performances of works by composers both known and unknown.
Included on this 'ensemble category' Grammy nomination CD are works by Pavel Chesnokov (Bless the Lord, O My Soul (Blagoslovi, dushe moya, Ghospoda and We Hymn Thee (Tebe Poem), Gustav Holst (Nunc Dimittis), Viktor Kalinnikov (Lord, Now Lettest Thou Thy Servant from his Vespers), James MacMillan (Child's Prayer. A New Song), Arvo Pärt (O Weisheit, The Woman with the Alabaster Box, De Profundis), Sergei Rachmaninov (Rejoice, O Virgin (Bogoroditse Devo), We Praise Thee (Tebe Poem), The Cherubic Hymn (Izhe heruvímï), Igor Stravinsky (Ave Maria and Pater Noster) and John Tavener (Exhortation and Kohima, Song for Athene).
The performances are stunningly beautiful and authentic and the recorded sound is some of the best on CD. Highly recommended for those who appreciate fine choral works. Grady Harp, December 06 "
The Best Modern Choir Music I Own
John D. Dooley | Southern California United States | 04/01/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is one of the most awe inspiring CD's that I have collected in years. Most, if not all of the tracks are from the 20th century expressing, may I be so bold to write, the rebirth of Orthodoxy after the horrors of 2 world wars & the Soviet communist takeover of the Russian church. The Sixteen, a choral group from England, are at top form with conductor Harry Christophers, singing in pure well balance tonality creating goose bump tragedy & joy in a single breath. As with most music I seem to judge the original recording or what I first heard as the axiom. Here the standards from Rachmaninov, Kalinnokov, & Stravinsky sound better due to the fine production which reveals layers of sound from the Sixteen. The only songs that don't match the original par-excellence are the songs from Arvo Part, then again I have listen to "De Profundis" so many times from the ECM series recording by the Hilliard Ensemble, that its climb from hell to heaven doesn't effect me any more. The Hilliard Ensemble sung with more robust bass singers & the organ sounded more intense then this present Sixteen expression.
Other highlights are John Traveler's "Song for Athena" which at the 5 minute mark, the soprano's come in perfectly & with any good stereo will radiate the glory of God across the room. I have a few CD's from James MacMillian which were rather modern for my taste but are fine examples of his skill at musical writing. In this CD the song "A Child's Prayer" is written about,& I quote: "The horrific slaughter of primary-school children at Dunblane Scotland on 13 March 1996..." as compared to as taking their first communion. When the word "Joy" comes in the 3rd line, it is layered & builds to a climax that will bring tears to your eyes. Writing this on Palm Sunday reminds me of the verse "who, for the joy that was set before him, endured the cross". It makes me think: "May I die with such joy". Another way of writing this: How can one express joy from such a tragedy? This is something that music can express that words & logic will contradict. The 2nd song from James Macmillan "A New Song" has a rather Phillip Glass "Satyagraha" effect with spinning organs & repeated layered words, but is done in very good taste.
The CD cover information doesn't state what Saint is on the front cover. My wife & I thought it was either Saint Panteleimon because of the short curly hair, or Daniel (as in the lion's den) because in the Salvic tradition he is pictured as a young man, but I found a photograph of the same icon in the web: "St. George from the 11th-early 12th century in the Dormition Cathedral of the Moscow Kremlin, Russia". I never knew that all 3 Saints looked alike.
If you love choir music this CD will be a pure addiction, bringing many joyful tears."
A fabulous effort
chefdevergue | Spokane, WA United States | 01/19/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"What a change of pace for Harry Christophers & The Sixteen! Best known for their recordings English music (from the Tudor era up to Benjamin Britten), The Sixteen go east with this remarkable collection of works which a based primarily in the Orthodox tradition (with the exception of MacMillan & Holst). Orthodox, but not ancient: these compositions, while based in the traditions of Eastern Orthodoxy, are 20th century works.
The result is simply stunning. There is not a selection on this album that will fail to move the listener profoundly. What pleases me the most is the much-needed exposure of the almost-unknown (at least in the West) Pavel Chesnokov, possibly the greatest of Russian choral composers. Because of his close assocation with the Russian Orthodox church, Chesnokov's compositions vanished from the musical radar with the advent of the Soviet Union, and are only now just beginning to see, once again, the light of day. One can only hope that the efforts of the Sixteen will prompt curious listeners to seek out some of Chesnokov's other works, as well as works like Rachmaninov's Vespers & Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom (light years removed from his better-known secular works).
This is an album which cannot fail to satisfy & uplift. I heartily recommend it to anyone who appreciates good choral writing & performance."
Technically excellent but otherwise uninspired
P. M Simon | New Mexico | 03/15/2008
(3 out of 5 stars)
"As an Orthodox Christian who sings many of these works, and has a great interest in liturgically music, I bought this CD with high hopes.
Sadly, I was frankly disappointed...because, although the execution was flawless, the selection was uninspired in several senses of that word.
The choir sings without passion, the works are not sung on the full range of Orthodox tones, and the works seem to have been selected for a certain sameness.
The result may be appealing to many listeners, I grant- it creates a mystical, hypnotic atmosphere in the right circumstances. It is akin to a CD of Gregorian monastic chants.
But, there was the rub--Orthodox music is liturgical but it is NOT all chant. There is the joy of the Eucharist, the sorrow of sin, the prayerful rapture with the all-Holy Trinity, the energetic worship through psalms. I found this variety, energy, and inspiration frankly missing from this selection.
So, should you buy? If looking for a technically perfect CD of liturgical evenness, yes. If you are seeking a true sample of eastern church music, buying a CD of an actual liturgy or vespers will serve you better."