Monica Huggett and her ensemble Sonnerie scored a hit on Avie with their recording of Handel's Trio Sonatas, Op. 2. They continue their traversal of Handel's chamber works with the Organ Concertos, Op. 4, featuring soloist Matthew Halls, a brilliant young soloist who spins out Handel's endlessly tuneful works with an improvisatory flair that the composer - himself a virtuoso organist - would surely have approved of.
Matthew Best began his career as a bass, singing at Covent Garden and at other leading operatic venues throughout the world. But since the mid-'80s he has turned increasingly toward conducting, recording many choral/orchestral and operatic works for Hyperion Records. Over the years his singing range has changed as well, placing him in the category of bass-baritone and including roles such as Scarpia and Amfortas.
As a composer of sacred music, Bob Chilcott has found his own niche by writing accessible choral works that speak to contemporary sensibilities. As has been noted frequently, his Requiem evokes Gabriel Fauré and Maurice Duruflé, mostly through its gentle feeling and serene melodies, though without imitating their style or content. Rather, it has its own mix of somber harmonies and fluid, chantlike lines, and the expression of the work is a little cooler and darker. Chilcott's music admits occasional and mild dissonance, though the orientation is strongly modal and the harmonies always feel like a natural result of the counterpoint. Chilcott's Salisbury Motets, Downing Service, and three shorter pieces share the same modern Anglican style, which is approachable and easy to follow. The Wells Cathedral Choir, under the direction of Matthew Owens, sings with a pure tone and clear diction, and the sound of the recordings is quite resonant, thanks to the responsive acoustics of the Cathedral of St. Andrew.