JOHN TAVENER: Ikon of Light = Ikon of Light; Funeral Ikos; The Lamb; Great Canon of St. Andrew of Crete – The Tallis Scholars/ Peter Phillips – Gimell GIMSE 404, 77:32 [Distr. by Harmonia mundi] ****:

Curious that a recording just reissued of Tavener’s work from the Sixteen under Harry Christophers was reviewed recently by me and now comes the recording I referenced in that review of Ikon of Light, the title of this disc and actually dedicated to the Tallis Scholars. I said previously that I found this piece not as convincing as others in the Tavener canon, and that hasn’t changed even upon hearing this reissue once again. Funeral Ikos is traded here for The Tyger on the Sixteen disc, and The Lamb is repeated on this present collection, so aside from Ikon there is not a lot of duplication—except for the fact that Ikon is 42 minutes and so dominates both discs! Which is a shame because the Great Canon of St. Andrew of Crete, which is the chief penitential office of the Orthodox Church during Great Lent (a canon being a poetical device essentially created by St. Andrew and used incessantly in the Orthodox Church) and a wonderful piece of music, is given here as well and makes up about a third of the disc.

So this is kind of a tough choice; I suppose you need to have the Ikon since Tavener thought so highly of it (even if I don’t), and this disc is a bit of an historical landmark in the composer’s career. Those who knew it before and have been waiting need not delay, and I think I prefer this disc over the Sixteen for sound and performance quality, plus you can get the filler pieces elsewhere fairly easily if so desired. The Tallis Scholars are hard to beat in virtually anything they decide to record.

—Steven Ritter