Pierre Villette (1926-1998) is very much a rarity in the cd catalogue. He is usually found on recitals of early twentieth century French music and this would seem to be his first "solo" outing. Hyperion refers to him as a stylistic link between Faure and Messiaen. As that description suggests, none of the music on this disc will offend those who dislike "modern music" and Villette's style is very approachable. The choral writing is melodic and harmonically very rich, adventurous but not prickly. "Spiritual and sensual" is how the conductor Stephen Layton describes these wonderful motets and that catches their mood perfectly.
The cd contains seventeen pieces, all but two for unaccompanied mixed-voice choir and which last between 3 and 4 minutes each. The works range from jubilant, organ-accompanied anthems to quieter, more introspective motets. They all have a sensuous beauty that makes one wonder why this music is relatively unknown. The performances, as we have come to expect from the Holst Singers, are outstanding (they do pianissimos particularly well). Anyone who responds to Durufle, Poulenc and the English idioms of Howells, Walton, Matthias or even John Rutter will find much enjoy here. An excellent disc.