Various: O magnum misterium (CD Review - The Independent on Sunday, 2005)

A sequence of modern music to ancient texts – linked by austere insertions of Sarum plainchant – that surveys the renaissance of interest in the art-carol among most of the leading British composers of the first half of this century (Howells, Walton, Warlock, Leighton are all represented). Stephen Layton's choir, Polyphony, is superb: one of the best mixed-voice professional ensembles in the business, with a virtuosity that doesn't turn it into the vocal machine you get from, say, the BBC Singers. This is soft, pliant, seductive singing and the most completely recommendable new issue for Christmas I've found so far.

Michael White

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