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 here are by composers whose names will not be familiar – but the extraordinary quality of the music is unmistakable and immediately enthralling.
for those not drawn to this disc by their own Orthodox faith there is still plenty to value in documentary terms...the programme is scrupulously prepared, with excellent pronunciation, idiomatic timbres and a fine fusion of ardent communication and sensitive shaping. Gramophone
Layton's preparation of his singers has obviously been extraordinarily thorough: 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. Int. Record Review
Those wary of an English choir's sensibilities in music almost from another planet should head stright to Tolstiakov's Blagoslovi and Rimsky-Korsakov's Our Father for blissful reassurance of authenticity. Classic fm *****