Music You Should Try

I love music. I love choral music, especially. I love a cappella choral music, especially especially. And you should like it, too. It’s so pure: only God-given instruments. Ah… the pleasure of a rich chord composed by a master musician and sung by a world-class choir! You’ll get that at least somewhere in all of the following CDs—sometimes on every track.

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Pärt is one of my very favorites. “Dopo la Vittoria” is beautiful on this CD, a Grammy winner, incidentally.

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And here he goes again. “Bogoróditse Djévo” is probably the most beautiful little choral gem I have ever heard.

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Powerful. Long.

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Delightful. I like the mix of more contemporary pieces (“Faire is the Heaven,” “A Spotless Rose”) with the most powerful of centuries-old British choral music (“Hear My Prayer, O Lord”).

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Same goes for this one.

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Ah, Chanticleer! You delight me! And Dawn Upshaw: what a pairing! Joseph Jennings, I’m sure we disagree on many things, but God has given you more than your fair share of capacity for making beauty!

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Weird in places, but fascinating.

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Rich, rich.

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Solid.

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One of the most beautiful CDs I have. Joseph Jennings spins his magic on Christina Rossetti’s “In the Bleak Midwinter.” It’s absolutely heavenly. Chanticleer’s light touch is exquisite on this whole CD.

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Fun! Ethnic!

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Another of the top CDs in my collection. Ethereal in the best sense.

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Up-and-coming composer (or has he up and come?) Eric Whitacre may seem a little gimmicky, but so far I haven’t tired of him like I have of Lauridsen. I just don’t play this too often lest I do tire. “When David Heard” is on this CD; it moved me to tears the first time I heard it. You’ll have to look elsewhere, though, for “Leonardo Dreams.”

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The Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir is directed by Paul Hillier, a choral master. “Estonian?” you ask—yes! They’re really amazing.

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I must confess, I deeply love the three tracks by Kreek and the setting of Luke’s geneaology (!) by Pärt, but I never listen to the rest.

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On this CD, too, I have three favorites and usually forget the rest. The three sacred hymns by Schnittke are fantastic.

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Tavener is probably my favorite composer of all time. Song for Athene I loved before I ever knew it was sung at Princess Diana’s funeral. Mother and Child is another of my favorites, though it’s not on this CD.

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The King’s Singers are absolute masters of the choral medium. They manage to make six quite individual voices blend so pleasingly. And they’re a riot!

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Power, power… Oh, those Russians! They produced something this American revels in! Find me a better moment in all of choral music than the Slava Bogu (track 7), about 55 seconds in… Oh, my!

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Pretty good group. Under the direction of a former King’s Singer. Mother and Child by Tavener is on here. Fantastic.

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The quintessentially British Composer Ralph (pronounced “rafe,” I hear) Vaughan Williams is one of the few that can tempt me out of choral music. But his choral music is fantastic, too. This is one of the most spiritually uplifting of my fine-art CDs. O, Taste and See how gracious the Lord is! O God, Our Help in Ages Past!

Omissions

Where are the Dale Warland Singers? I’m sorry but I can’t listen to them. There’s an edge in their sound that grates on me. I’ve tried, I’ve tried! How about Cantus? They’re nice guys, I’m sure. Hats off to them… but they’re no Chanticleer. But if you see anyone you think I’ve missed, let me know. I’m always on the lookout!

Disclaimer

Naturally, I can’t endorse every theological viewpoint (Mariolatry, for example) or musical style (mostly in the Chanticleer CDs) contained in these recordings. By God’s common grace, however, non-Christian people have created much beautiful music that glorifies their creator whether they know it or not.

Author: Mark Ward

PhD in NT; theological writer for Faithlife; former high school Bible textbook author for BJU Press; husband; father; ultimate frisbee player; member of the body of Christ.

2 thoughts on “Music You Should Try”

  1. A reply three years late… I always feel like the Swingle Singers aren’t singing real music; they’re just playing around really, really well. I just get annoyed after a while because I want something to sink my teeth into—a long, flowing line or some complex harmonies. Pop music just isn’t for real, and that seems to be where they hang out. I hear it (I think!) even in some of their renditions of classical pieces. But it’s been a while since I’ve heard that and I could certainly be wrong.

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