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Pierre Villette: Choral Music

Band : The Holst Singers
Release Date : February 27, 2006
Label : Hyperion
Catalog ref. : CDA67539

This pioneering new recording—a showcase for the virtuoso talents of the Holst Singers—presents all fifteen of Villette’s unaccompanied choral works and his two motets for choir and organ.

Pierre Villette might best be regarded as a stylistic bridge between Debussy and Fauré on the one hand and Poulenc and Messiaen on the other. A world rich in the familiarities of Gregorian chant infuses much of his choral output, while ambitious chromaticisms and textural gestures create effects which are at once spiritual and sensuous. This is the music of private prayer set in the context of an incense-filled Gothic Über-Cathedral.

Under their long-standing director of music Stephen Layton, the Holst Singers have established themselves firmly at the top of the country’s league of chamber choirs. This new programme can only enhance their justly deserved reputation.


‘The Holst Singers create great clouds of texture, which surge, form, and melt before your ears … For a bag of musical bonbons à la violette, this disc can’t be beaten’ (BBC Music Magazine)

‘Whether chant-inspired, leaning towards a jazz idiom or chromaticism, the music is an unusual hybrid. The Holst Singers are eloquent and beguiling under the thoughtful direction of Stephen Layton’ (Choir and Organ)

‘This is simply gorgeous music which has not so much moments of sublime beauty as virtually no passages which aren’t, both singly and cumulatively, utterly enchanting’ (International Record Review)

‘Shades of Messiaen, Duruflé, Gregorian chant and jazz tinge Villette’s elegant, unpretentious motets, sensitively performed here’ (Classic FM Magazine)

‘If I was going to choose a record company to commit Villette’s music to disc, then Hyperion would be my first choice and the team invovled in this production do not let composer or musicians down, capturing the mood so well … it is a cracking CD’ (Cathedral Music)

‘The Holst Singers’ blend, diction, intonation, and ensemble are uniformly up there with the best, as is the engineering of the recording’ (Fanfare, USA)

‘The Holst Singers – Stephen Layton’s ‘other’ great choir – is every bit as skilled, sonorous and sensitive as his better-known group, Polyphony. Very few conductors manage this sort of exquisite phrasing, subtle nuance, gleaming sound, and absolute control that you hear from any of Layton’s choirs. Hyperion records them beautifully and offers its usual complete and classy booklet’ (American Record Guide)

‘This recording offers the most comprehensive compilation of Villette’s choral music in print. Layton’s interpretation skillfully supports the composer’s intent, especially in terms of text-music relationships. The Holst Singers’ diversity of tone color, pristine intonation, exploration of dynamic range, and nuances of rhythmic flexibility are consistently excellent…Layton’s balance of every tone in the twenty-part texture achieves an outstanding sonority, a highlight of the recording…I recommend this recording enthusiastically and without reservation’ (Choral Guide, USA)