the unaccompanied voice

i’m partial to a cappella singing in a several genre. i’m hoping i’m not alone in this and, thus, seek recommendations of such performances from my compatriots on the ‘gon. let me begin with a listing of a few recordings that are among my favorites:

• fairfield four; almost anything, but particularly “standing in the safety zone” and “I couldn’t hear nobody pray.”

• the persuasions; “frankly a cappella” (a tribute to zappa) and “might as well” (a tribute to GD)

• the bobs; “...cover the songs of”

• “the unaccompanied voice” (secretly canadian cd)

• the roches; “the roches”

• chanticleer; “colors of love”

• anonymous 4; “11,000 virgins” (hidegard von bingen), also , not quite a cappella but beautiful “voices of light” (richard einhorn)

please share some of yours.

You seem to have covered all the bases Kelly. I would add all the Persuasions' albums - I think my favorite is called We Came to Play, the first Bobs lp and Anonymous Four's Lily and the Lamb, engineered by one of my Harbeth friends.


How about a wonderful plain chant? Try "A Feather on the Breath of God" with Emma Kirkby. Hyperion CDA66039. Engineered by Paul's and my e friend, Tony Faulkner, of Green Room Productions, UK.

Another recommendation is "Musica della Cappella Sistina" (Music of the Sistine Chapel,) Tavener Consort, on EMI
CDC7 47699 2.

One more: "Laudate!," featuring Anne Sofie von Otter, on Proprius. PRCD 9100. (This has some 17th century instrumentation, but is a winner. I promise.)

Music that could move an athiest!

Charlie, I only find one of your recs at Amazon. Do I have to go to Borders?

Sadly, I find I'm only interested lately in classical or music with a driving beat. I still haven't opened the last Alison Krauss cd, bought on Sept. 10.
Anything by the Kings Singers. I've had the pleasure of performing with them twice (music composed for them and chamber chorus). I will never forget it.

Rachmaninoff Vespers (All-Night Vigil); Robert Shaw, Telarc CD-80172.

Morten Lauridsen (Composer) is great! Sounds like it could be 16th or 17th century, but is modern. Morten is alive and well and living in Los Angeles. Get the CD "Lux Aeterna" and more on RCM#19705. Samples at Love to sing his music. The CD includes his "O Magnum Mysterium" which is the best selling piece of choral sheet music in history.

paul: just take the allison krauss cd one step at a time. you can open it but not play it. you should, tho, read garfish's latest thread: "it's been an allison kind of month." ain't it funny how one end of the universe always connects to the..... oops, sorry, just let go. see you all tomorrow. or so i hope.

I've been a fan of Alison Krauss since she was a teenager. Have all of her lps/cds including the Tony Furtado cd with "I Will." When I listen to Heaven's Bright Shore on the second or third or fourth lp (have it on cd) I am always thankful that she shares her gifts with us. Sweet, sweet girl, a gift from above.
Three all-time favorites, all are lovely -

Poulenc, Musique sacree - Harmonia Mundi France HMC901588

Ancient Echoes - Chorovaya Akademia - RCA Victor Red Seal 09026-68055-2 (Russian choral music that shows what a bass should sound like, and how to sing the dissonances that trip every western chorus trying to sing this music)

El Canto Espiritual Judeoespanol - Alia Musica, Harmonia Mundi Iberica HMI 987015 - not entirely vocal, but the a capella vocals are very good

And if you like the Persuasions, try the new one on Chesky, singing Beatles hits - Chesky JD220.

Good (great) listening!

The Proprius selection can be bought from May Audio:

I think the others were available through Tower and CDNow.
The original Nylons. The early vinyl releases are very good...I never heard them live but friends of mine have. The current lineup is not as good IMO....but their early stuff....pretty awesome.The Persuasions....ummmm, I'm going to have to check them out....happy listening
Recommend Lassus', Motets (Hilliard Ensemble (ECM)). For something a bit different. Also (within the "different" vein) Tchaikovski, Liturgy of St. John (EMI) -- or any other Orthodox liturgy compil. Cheers
I picked up a collection entitled simply "Voices" that claims to be a "collection of the worlds greates choirs" about 12 years ago that is a real treat. It is a boxed, 3-disk set that includes everything from Russian choral arrangements to whalesong, Ladysmith Black Mambazo to Tibetan monks. Don't know if it is still available (and it certainly isn't all unaccompanied voice -- as it also includes excerpts from everything from gospel to Motzart's Reqium) but it has some really intersting stuff that I wouldn't have encountered otherwise. If you're interested, let me know and I can take a closer look at it and try to supply more details. (I don't have the box or the rather large booklet that came with it anymore, only the disks, but I can certainly have a look).
Excellent suggestions. In addition, try Sacred Feast on dmp (hybrid SACD if you have a player) and the Rutter/Cambridge Singers series on Collegium, particularly Faire is the Heaven, There is Sweet Music (listen to Stanford's "The Blue Bird--you literally hold your breath as they sing it), Ave Maria and their madrigal album Flora Brought Me the Sweetest Flowers (or something like that). Shaw also recorded Schubert Songs for Male Chorus on Telarc, which is primarily unaccompanied singing, and with his old chorus there was Deep River on RCA, nice arrangements of spirituals. Finally, there are some recordings of Russian choruses which I have heard (unfortunately, I didn't get the group or label) which are terrific and worth getting if you can find them--as a bass/baritone, I only wish I could reach as low as those Russian basses!
thanks all for your great suggestions thus far. anybody out there with any doo-wop faves?

There are some Gregg Smith Doo-Wop arrangements of Thomas Morley (Elizabethan) madrigals; not sure if they are on CD. They were sung on NPR Garrison Keillor's show, so may be available. We are performing two of them at a free concert in Baltimore on 2/24, along with the traditional madrigal. They are very funny.
thanks, sugar, i'll take a look. BTW, "prairie home companion" is on many NPR stations but is produced and owned by PRI (public radio international). PRI is quite a controversial group, particularly after their buying out a number of so. calif. public radio stations. i mean, try to imagine getting off your board, driving your woody back to your favorite la jolla coffee bar and then having to listen to a show produced in st. paul, minnesota. where in hell is st. paul? for that matter, where in hell is minnesota? thought that was a part of canada, where all the cops still wear those cool red uniforms and travel around on dog sleds. on king! on, you huskies!. -cfb
I got my music and it was done on Garrison's American Radio Company programs when he was in New York. There are some real audio (not Garrison's) sample clips at:
If you don't have Opus3 #77-06, "Black is the Color", you should. Meant to post this earlier. :)
Had to dig up this thread to add a new disc.
If you like modern liturgical music with a strong Eastern flavor, the new Chanticleer recording of John Tavener's Lamentations and Praises (Teldec 09274-13422) is simply outstanding. Wonderful music, wonderful sound, wonderful imaging. Your Avalon speakers will do great things with this atmospheric soundstage (well mine do anyhow).
Very highly recommended, nearly all acapella.
Manhattan Transfer "Vocalese" will knock you dead with the super-complex 4-part arrangements and harmonies. This album has some pretty wierd songs on it, but they are all amazing in the vocal renditions. These singers use their voices like jazz instruments to re-create jazz and scat type songs with the same type arrangements and solos that a jazz quartet would play with their instruments. It is very incredible, and they do it so well it is unbelievable. Certain songs are pretty far out on the edge. I find that when I listen to this album, I can't turn it off because I'm so curious about what is coming next. Most people would be truly amazed at what these 4 artists can do with vocals. As far as I remember, there are no instruments at all on the album other than the voices. Their other albums are good too, but those have instrumentation as well as vocals.