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Pierre Villette

Holst Singers/Stephen Layton/James Vivian (organ)

O sacrum convivium Op 27 [3'43]
Hymne à la Vierge Op 24 [3'56]
Attende, Domine Op 45 [5'37]
Notre Père d'Aix Op 75 [2'17]
Inviolata Op 66 [5'15]
Tu es Petrus Op 29* [3'07]
O quam suavis est Op 76 [3'05]
Salutation angélique Op 20* [2'30]
Strophes polyphoniques pour le Veni Creator Op 28 [5'49]
Panis angelicus Op 80 [2'58]
O salutaris hostia Op 21 [2'55]
Ave verum Op 3 [3'16]
Salve regina Op 5 KATY COOPER soprano [3'06]
O quam amabilis es Op 71 [3'53]
Jesu, dulcis memoria Op 78 [3'28]
Adoro te Op 31 [3'19]
O magnum misterium Op 53 [4'18]

Hyperion CDA67539 [2005; 63 mins]


Pierre Villette (1926-98) is a distinguished, rather conservative French composer of choral music who may be little known other than by specialist collectors? Donald Hunt of Worcester brought him to British attention in the '70s, but all this very lovely music was new to me, and I am delighted to have encountered it.

Mostly euphonius, and bringing Debussy, Fauré, Poulenc and Messiaen to mind, it is described by the conductor as "spiritual and sensual". Many of the motets collected here are relatively simple and always easy on the ear. Inviolata is the most complex, after which there was something of a retreat.

He was little appreciated in his own country, and this recording is something of a landmark. Well wrought, mainly peaceful but never cloying music, I commend it to all who enjoy unaccompanied religious choral music and crack chamber choirs, of which the Holst Singers are rightly numbered.

Stephen Layton and the Holst Singers are well served by the engineers in the flattering acoustic of The Temple Church, and the organ brings exciting variety to two of the tracks.

© Peter Grahame Woolf