CD review: The Tree of Life

First published in the Guardian on 16 December, 2016

The Tree of Life
The Trinity Choir/ Taylor (Sony)

“At the heart of this sequence of pieces,” writes countertenor / choir director Daniel Taylor in the notes to his second seasonal album with The Trinity Choir, “lies a stillness which makes room for the heart’s awakening.” I’m not sure I experienced the requisite awakening but Taylor’s “spiritual journey” plots an innocuous route through Britten’s Hymn to the Virgin, Jean Mouton’s 16th century Nesciens Mater, a couple of plainchants, eight short hymns by Arvo Part, two by John Tavener. As Christmas albums go it’s a classy selection and his Trinity voices sound creamy and plush recorded in the ultra-resonant St Augustine’s Church in Kilburn — a bit mushy on inner voices, and probably more concerned with making phrases glow and float than keeping things moving, but with this album there’s no risk of jagged edges or abrupt tempos to disturb your fireside hygge.