Those who have watched Stephen Layton conduct Tavener, or anything else for that matter, will quickly realise that this CD fizzes with his dynamic and committed approach. The balance of the Temple Church Choir and the Holst singers coupled with the occasional surprising intervention of the organ lend the performance a noticeable depth, making it a worthwhile buy even for Tavener fans who will already have most of these works in their libary.
The premiere recording of "What God is We Do Not Know" from Sir John's magnum opus, "The Veil of the Temple", an all night vigil first performed to unanimous acclaim last June, is a taster for joys in store when the CD of "The Veil" highlights is eventually released. "Elizabeth Full of Grace", another premiere and a 12 minute work, would of itself justify buying this CD.
I confess prejudice in my judgement that the choristers of The Temple Church Choir are in particularly good voice - I am the father of two of them - but I'm sure even an entirely disinterested ear will agree. The momentum of rehearsing "The Veil" through early summer carries them on here.
There are no loose ends, no slackness in approach. Mr Layton, if anything, winds up the tension in quieter passages where a less determined conductor would have allowed the listener's attention to wander. Every track bristles with the excitement of fresh revelation, doing real justice to the spiritual quality of Sir John's work.