"This is a hauntingly compelling recording of some of Kenneth Leighton’s most inspired music... It is music of a profoundly spiritual nature, and its six movements of much imagination as well as musical logic.// The orchestral version of his magificent Te Deum laudamus, amkes a fine bonus to an outstanding CD/ The orchesta and chorus were inspire to great heights inthis recording, and the sound itself is of femonstration quality."
The Penguin Guide - 1000 Greatest Classical Recordings 2011-12
It is seldom given to concert goers or reviewers to be gripped by the feeling that a masterpiece (that over-used work) is unfolding before one’s ears. Repeated listenings to Leighton’s Second Symphony have not dispelled my first impression. This Chandos release is a more than worthy follow-up to its predecessor and the third volume is impatiently awaited. Meanwhile I cannot do better than urge this new release on all those with ears to hear, for Leighton’s Sinfonia mistica is, I humbly submit, indeed a masterpiece.
International Record Review
Despite its monumental aspect the Sinfonia mistica is essentially a personal, intimate work, and it gets a moving performance here, Richard Hickox judging to a nicety the various movement’s complex succession of tempos, and their ebb and flow of intensity. Sarah Fox is a pure-voiced poignant soloist, and the BBC National Chorus of Wales sound very confident, as if this was a repertoire standard for them. Chandos’ recording catches the glow and bloom of Leighton’s orchestration very effectively. His 1964 Te Deum, at once festal and thoughtful, makes a satisfying coupling.
BBC Music Magazine
The soloist in this breathtaking performance of the symphony is soprano Sarah Fox, whose emotional intensity and power of delivery get right to the heart of a work inspired by the death of the composer’s mother. If the words – from various poetic sources – give literal immediacy to the soul-searching profundity of this work, the instrumental halo transports us into an unimaginably sublime dimension
Both performances are beyond reproach. Sarah Fox sings with refulgent tone, commendable accuracy and shining intelligence; and Richard Hickox rallies the BBC Welsh forces to the same dizzy heights that marked out the previous volume in this series as one of the best discs of 2008. Outstandingly vivid sound too, with a perfectly judged balance throughout. Miss at your peril, and the good news is that Chandos have more Leighton lined up for the spring.
The British composer Kenneth Leighton’s music communicates so directly, yet rarely reaches concerts. See what you’re missing with his choral second symphony of the mid-1970s. Sarah Fox’s bright soprano suits the work’s rugged beauty, and the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, under Hickox, feast on Leighton’s bold instrumental colours. A splendid recording