Sonnerie is one of the foremost period instrument ensembles in the world. Founded by Monica Huggett in 1982 and based in London, the group has been acclaimed for its performances from Sydney to Paris and from Helsinki to Vancouver, as well as its quarterly series at London's prestigious Wigmore Hall. Sonnerie's core group consists of four musicians; Monica Huggett, baroque violin; Gary Cooper, harpsichord; Emilia Benjamin, viola da gamba, violin and viola, and Alison McGillivray, baroque cello. These four form the basis of the larger chamber group and also function as a flexible smaller unit, performing trio sonatas and quartets.
Sonnerie has just finished recording Heinrich Johann Franz von Biber (1664-1704) violin sonatas for the ASV label. The music is very free ranging and fantastical, as well as being technically more demanding than anything that had been written for violin up til that point. Included on the CD are some newly discovered violin sonatas which a musicologist friend, Robert Rawson, unearthed during his research in the British Library and the music library in Kromeriz near Prague.
Sonnerie recently extended its repertoire into the Classical era by performing Mozart Piano Quartets, with Gary Cooper on the fortepiano, and in January 2000, Sonnerie plans to record the Quartets, again for the ASV label. This will be a pioneering exercise as it will be the first ever recording of the contemporaneous piano quartet arrangement of the quintet for piano and winds. The arrangement was almost certainly made during Mozart's lifetime as there is musicological evidence that the piano quartet ending, which is different from the piano and winds, is in fact a transcription of a first draft ending which is in the Bibliotheque Nationale in Paris, in Mozart's autograph.