Re-trying Choral Music - Looking for recommendations

Started by lordlance, January 13, 2022, 03:27:44 PM

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lordlance

I have always disliked the classical western singing style when done solo. There's something about massed voices that makes it so much more palatable. I have tried vocal music multiple times throughout the years and have almost always failed but I am listening to Verdi's Requiem right now and even though it is clearly too long for me and my attention has flagged, at least I am going to finish it.

I was looking for recommendations of orchestral choral pieces which use only massed choirs instead of having solo singers and they are generally swift in tempi. I do not enjoy funereal tempi or adagios. Just not my temperament.

I think a great example would be Choral Fantasy - yes it has soloists but the tuttis with the entire orchestra and choir singing together make glorious music.

Even in this Verdi Requiem the recurring Dies Irae is incredible music (no solo singing again.)

Another great example might be Missa Solemnis' Gloria. That might possibly be the most intense music Beethoven has ever written (that I have heard.)
If you are interested in listening to orchestrations of solo/chamber music, you might be interested in this thread. Feel free to contribute and make the list grow!

Jo498

Brahms' German Requiem has only smallish parts for solo singers and several purely choral movements although I don't think it is as intense as most of Beethoven's Missa solemnis and a lot of it is slow. Beethoven's other mass in C major as of course soloists but is also dominated by choirs. You could also try the short choral works by Brahms: Schicksalslied, Nänie, Gesang der Parzen.
I think some of Cherubini's sacred music is choir+orchestra without solos.
Tout le malheur des hommes vient d'une seule chose, qui est de ne savoir pas demeurer en repos, dans une chambre.
- Blaise Pascal

VonStupp

#2
Well, if you are looking for bits and bobs from larger works you could really explore any Mass or Requiem setting and dive right into the Gloria's and Dies Irae's of composers you like and see how it takes you. Of course, you may run into soloists too. For me here are some I greatly enjoy for their combustion:
Schubert: Mass No. 6 in E-flat Major - The Sanctus!!!
Lili Boulanger: Psalm 24 - this is really something else
Prokofiev: Alexander Nevsky Cantata - only one solo mvt. to contend with
Beethoven: 'Chorus of the Dervishes' from his Ruins of Athens incidental music
Haydn: Te Deum in C (the 2nd one)
Zemlinsky: Psalm 13 & Psalm 23
Bernstein: Mass - Sanctus
Orff: Carmina Burana - if you omit the soloists from time to time, there are oodles of bouncy, rough choruses
Handel: Zadok the Priest from his set of Coronation Anthems (can't remember if this has soloists, but oh, the chorus)

There are quite a few orchestrated choral ballades, especially from the British. These are all great to me, but I am sure you can find most of these online to explore to see if they gain traction for you:
Beethoven: Meeresstille und Glückliche Fahrt - erupts gloriously
William Walton: In Honour of the City of London
Brahms: Gesang der Parzen, Begräbnisgesang & Triumphlied
George Dyson: In Honour of the City & The Blacksmiths
Holst: Dirge for Two Veterans & Hymn of Jesus
Barber: A Stopwatch and an Ordnance Map
Elgar: The Black Knight, The Banner of St. George & Scenes from the Bavarian Highlands (orch. Version)

There are a couple of multi-movement symphonic choral works that are longer but do not use any soloists. Of course, tempos are not completely upbeat and aggressive throughout:
George Lloyd: Symphonic Mass
Philip Glass: Itaipu
Stravinsky: Symphony of Psalms
Bruckner: Mass No. 2 in e minor
John Adams: Harmonium
Schoenberg: Friede auf Erden (sometimes a cappella, sometimes with orchestra)
Duruflé: Requiem - Robert Shaw assigned the solo parts to the chorus, I think
Ravel: Daphnis and Chloe (a tiny wordless part for chorus)

You would have to sift through the soloist portions, but there is some great, fun choral music here. Poulenc's Gloria is particularly cheeky:
Poulenc: Gloria (mvts 1,2, 4 are solo-less) & Stabat Mater (only mvt's 6, 8, and 12 have soloists)
Berlioz: Requiem (only the Sanctus has a solo) & Te Deum (only mvt. 5 has a solo)
Bernstein: Missa Brevis & Chichester Psalms
Janacek: Glagolitic Mass
Gounod: St. Cecilia Mass
Dvorak: Te Deum & Requiem

Have fun!  ;D I will try and think more specifically when I get a chance to finally sit down next. VS
"All the good music has already been written by people with wigs and stuff."

lordlance

Quote from: VonStupp on January 14, 2022, 01:40:49 PM
Have fun! I will try and think more specifically when I get a chance to finally sit down next. VS

I remember Ravel's Daphnis and Chloe. I would not want to make myself go through that again. I dislike French impressionist immensely.

Oh I have heard Janacek's Glagolitic Mass and remember enjoying it too! I like Stravinsky's Symphony of Psalms too IIRC. Need to revisit Poulenc's Gloria but it holds promise.

Bernstein's Mass is such a monumental piece that I have never gotten around to hearing it again. It's on my to-listen list for a few years now. It's an occasion in itself.

Also I am aware that a piece isn't going to be completely presto or allegro. I live with that in this genre. So you shouldn't let that change your recommendations (assuming it's not 20 minutes or a large portion of the work obviously.)

I am really surprised to hear Berlioz's massive Requiem is mostly non-solo. That's interesting.

I also heard Haydn's Creation Mass and Mass in Time of War. I would venture to say that this music might be better than most of his symphonies. They are tolerable I suppose because it's mostly massed singing even if they don't evoke awe or make me an instant fan.

If you are interested in listening to orchestrations of solo/chamber music, you might be interested in this thread. Feel free to contribute and make the list grow!

VonStupp

Quote from: lordlance on January 14, 2022, 03:13:06 PM
Bernstein's Mass is such a monumental piece that I have never gotten around to hearing it again. It's on my to-listen list for a few years now. It's an occasion in itself.

Bernstein's own performance of his Mass was just reissued on Sony, so I went back to it recently, but it is not one I visit too often. It is a product of its time, for sure

VS
"All the good music has already been written by people with wigs and stuff."

Holden

To me, solo parts in a choral work help break up the piece and you don't end up with a whole wall of similar sound. It's for this reason that I love the Verdi Requiem so much where you have soloists (Ingemisco), Duets (Recordare) Quartets (Lacrimosa). Much, of course depends on the recording itself. All music can be played in a manner that doesn't grab ones attention but when you hear a recording that does the music justice it's a different story.

Pieces that I might recommend in this vein:

Orff:Carmina Burana (yes it's cliched but I like it) Previn/LSO/Warner. Immerseel and Anima Eterna for a more modern version
Verdi: Requiem HvK/Price/Cossotto/Pavarotti/Ghiaurov/La Scala Milan - this is a DVD and it is glorious.
Handel: Messiah
Lauridsen: Lux Aerterna
Britten: Rejoice in the Lamb
Cheers

Holden

lordlance

Quote from: Holden on January 14, 2022, 03:36:55 PM
To me, solo parts in a choral work help break up the piece and you don't end up with a whole wall of similar sound. It's for this reason that I love the Verdi Requiem so much where you have soloists (Ingemisco), Duets (Recordare) Quartets (Lacrimosa). Much, of course depends on the recording itself. All music can be played in a manner that doesn't grab ones attention but when you hear a recording that does the music justice it's a different story.

Pieces that I might recommend in this vein:

Orff:Carmina Burana (yes it's cliched but I like it) Previn/LSO/Warner. Immerseel and Anima Eterna for a more modern version
Verdi: Requiem HvK/Price/Cossotto/Pavarotti/Ghiaurov/La Scala Milan - this is a DVD and it is glorious.
Handel: Messiah
Lauridsen: Lux Aerterna
Britten: Rejoice in the Lamb


I actually attended Messiah in a live concert. It was so bad that I left at the interval. Horribly boring.
If you are interested in listening to orchestrations of solo/chamber music, you might be interested in this thread. Feel free to contribute and make the list grow!

Jo498

Orff, Verdi, Handel all have considerable amounts of solo singing. Of course one can just skip them. I think the most choral parts in Handel are in Israel in Egypt (nevertheless a rather uneven piece), especially if the funeral ode is used as the first part.

I think one better get used to classical solo singing, unless one wants to forego a lot of great classical music.
It sounds unfamiliar and artificial to many people today, probably because there are now about three generations who grew up with popular singers crooning into a microphone.
Tout le malheur des hommes vient d'une seule chose, qui est de ne savoir pas demeurer en repos, dans une chambre.
- Blaise Pascal

lordlance

Quote from: Jo498 on January 15, 2022, 12:25:57 AM
Orff, Verdi, Handel all have considerable amounts of solo singing. Of course one can just skip them. I think the most choral parts in Handel are in Israel in Egypt (nevertheless a rather uneven piece), especially if the funeral ode is used as the first part.

I think one better get used to classical solo singing, unless one wants to forego a lot of great classical music.
It sounds unfamiliar and artificial to many people today, probably because there are now about three generations who grew up with popular singers crooning into a microphone.

Sadly I have given up the idea of ever loving it. I have been trying solo singing for a decade and in all that time it hasn't gotten any less grating. Massed singing I have grown accustomed to.
If you are interested in listening to orchestrations of solo/chamber music, you might be interested in this thread. Feel free to contribute and make the list grow!

Mountain Goat

It sounds like you might enjoy the Berlioz Te Deum - only one movement has a soloist, and it has plenty of fast/energetic music! His Requiem too has only one solo movement, though much of it is of more moderate tempo.

lordlance

A small update - I tried Schubert's Sixth Mass and I can understand massed vocals getting samey after some time. I am afraid I didn't care for it upon re-listening to it.
If you are interested in listening to orchestrations of solo/chamber music, you might be interested in this thread. Feel free to contribute and make the list grow!

Daverz

#11
Perhaps you just got a hold of some recordings with poor solo singing.  The standard of singing has been going down since the 70s, IMO.  I can't take wobbly or edgy voices, nor can I tolerate countertenors most of the time.  And choruses vary widely in there quality and direction.

VonStupp

Quote from: lordlance on January 16, 2022, 04:43:11 PM
A small update - I tried Schubert's Sixth Mass and I can understand massed vocals getting samey after some time. I am afraid I didn't care for it upon re-listening to it.

I didn't know you were looking for a whole work, as you had mentioned the Gloria from Missa Solemnis, but the Sanctus from his 6th gets me every time.

Sorry! VS
"All the good music has already been written by people with wigs and stuff."

Holden

Quote from: lordlance on January 14, 2022, 03:55:05 PM
I actually attended Messiah in a live concert. It was so bad that I left at the interval. Horribly boring.

I was lucky enough to be at the Royal Albert Hall for the annual Good Friday performance of the Messiah. It was magnificent but then again I do know the work.

https://www.royalalberthall.com/tickets/events/2019/messiah-on-good-friday/
Cheers

Holden

ritter

Walton's Coronation Te Deum is an impressive choral piece, with no soloists. Well worth exploring.

Also, anthologies of Wagner opera choruses may do the trick as well.

lordlance

Quote from: ritter on January 16, 2022, 11:37:29 PM
Also, anthologies of Wagner opera choruses may do the trick as well.

Any recommendations? I love Wagner's orchestral excerpts quite dearly. It's when he uses vocals where I tap out.
If you are interested in listening to orchestrations of solo/chamber music, you might be interested in this thread. Feel free to contribute and make the list grow!

ritter

These two are OOP, but are available cheap (used) from Amazon. I don't kw them, but am sure they'll do the trick!

 

vandermolen

Quote from: lordlance on January 14, 2022, 03:55:05 PM
I actually attended Messiah in a live concert. It was so bad that I left at the interval. Horribly boring.
I dislike this work as well.

I'd recommend Bloch's 'Sacred Service'.
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

'The test of a work of art is, in the end, our affection for it, not our ability to explain why it is good' (Stanley Kubrick).

kyjo

Quote from: VonStupp on January 14, 2022, 01:40:49 PM
Well, if you are looking for bits and bobs from larger works you could really explore any Mass or Requiem setting and dive right into the Gloria's and Dies Irae's of composers you like and see how it takes you. Of course, you may run into soloists too. For me here are some I greatly enjoy for their combustion:
Schubert: Mass No. 6 in E-flat Major - The Sanctus!!!
Lili Boulanger: Psalm 24 - this is really something else
Prokofiev: Alexander Nevsky Cantata - only one solo mvt. to contend with
Beethoven: 'Chorus of the Dervishes' from his Ruins of Athens incidental music
Haydn: Te Deum in C (the 2nd one)
Zemlinsky: Psalm 13 & Psalm 23
Bernstein: Mass - Sanctus
Orff: Carmina Burana - if you omit the soloists from time to time, there are oodles of bouncy, rough choruses
Handel: Zadok the Priest from his set of Coronation Anthems (can't remember if this has soloists, but oh, the chorus)

There are quite a few orchestrated choral ballades, especially from the British. These are all great to me, but I am sure you can find most of these online to explore to see if they gain traction for you:
Beethoven: Meeresstille und Glückliche Fahrt - erupts gloriously
William Walton: In Honour of the City of London
Brahms: Gesang der Parzen, Begräbnisgesang & Triumphlied
George Dyson: In Honour of the City & The Blacksmiths
Holst: Dirge for Two Veterans & Hymn of Jesus
Barber: A Stopwatch and an Ordnance Map
Elgar: The Black Knight, The Banner of St. George & Scenes from the Bavarian Highlands (orch. Version)

There are a couple of multi-movement symphonic choral works that are longer but do not use any soloists. Of course, tempos are not completely upbeat and aggressive throughout:
George Lloyd: Symphonic Mass
Philip Glass: Itaipu
Stravinsky: Symphony of Psalms
Bruckner: Mass No. 2 in e minor
John Adams: Harmonium
Schoenberg: Friede auf Erden (sometimes a cappella, sometimes with orchestra)
Duruflé: Requiem - Robert Shaw assigned the solo parts to the chorus, I think
Ravel: Daphnis and Chloe (a tiny wordless part for chorus)

You would have to sift through the soloist portions, but there is some great, fun choral music here. Poulenc's Gloria is particularly cheeky:
Poulenc: Gloria (mvts 1,2, 4 are solo-less) & Stabat Mater (only mvt's 6, 8, and 12 have soloists)
Berlioz: Requiem (only the Sanctus has a solo) & Te Deum (only mvt. 5 has a solo)
Bernstein: Missa Brevis & Chichester Psalms
Janacek: Glagolitic Mass
Gounod: St. Cecilia Mass
Dvorak: Te Deum & Requiem

Have fun!  ;D I will try and think more specifically when I get a chance to finally sit down next. VS

What a superb list!!

BTW, as someone who isn't a huge listener of Baroque music, I love Handel's Messiah unreservedly, overplayed though it may be. What a glorious outpouring of delightful inspiration!
"Music is enough for a lifetime, but a lifetime is not enough for music" - Sergei Rachmaninoff

KevinP

Well since you're open to skipping solo movements, Bach's B minor Mass has plenty of gorgeous choruses to offer. And they're self-contained, as in you won't have to skip tracks while music is still playing.