Hugh Canning
The Sunday Times
March 2018

Scholarly scruples about Bach’s recycling of material from earlier works, even secular cantatas, can never diminish the stature of his late, great Mass in a performance as uplifting and invigorating as this. Layton makes no claims to 'authenticity' with his mixed young-adult choir—sounding wonderfully fresh and athletic—and mature soloists. In any case, the composer probably never heard his choral masterpiece performed complete; indeed, he may not even have intended it for performance, but rather as a compendium of what he could achieve in liturgical music. Layton’s Bach is rightly prized for its clear-headed vision and lack of eccentricity. He has a fine team of soloists: Katherine Watson and Helen Charlston’s bright voices blend ideally in the Christe eleison, and Gwilym Bowen and Neal Davies are both stalwarts in their solos. But it is Iestyn Davies’s singing of Qui sedes that takes this release into the realms of greatness. The OAE, with trumpets and drums in full cry in the Gloria, Osanna and Dona nobis pacem, make a splendid sound. Highly recommended.