How can one set of music have such sublime and mundane music side by side?
March 21, 2012 11:17 PM   Subscribe

Baroque Choral Music Filter: I love the kind of baroque choral music with multiple parts going on simultaneously or in very close interaction, providing a gorgeous complex polyphonic tapestry that transcends language and sends me to heaven (as JS intended!). I very much dislike the soloists droning on in German against the orchestra. Which albums have more of the former?

I have a ton of Bach instrumental music, but the only choral CD is have is this one. Some of the tracks, the more polyphonic as described above, are just sublime. The rest (most, even) that are soloist-based just leave me completely cold.

Can anyone point me in the direction of the former, either Bach or other similar composers?
posted by zachawry to Media & Arts (13 answers total) 28 users marked this as a favorite
Bach's Jesu Meine Freude has a bunch of this, particularly the fugue in the middle. I think there are a couple solo parts in it, but the vast majority of it is choral.
posted by sparrow89 at 11:40 PM on March 21, 2012

Look for a recording of the B Minor Mass (e.g.). Most of it is either for full chorus or for two voices with orchestra, and it is profoundly beautiful. (Also look for the St. John and St. Matthew Passions, though those have more recitative, which probably won't be as much to your taste.)
posted by en forme de poire at 12:20 AM on March 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

Given your preferences, maybe also explore Schutz. And Palestrina. And Monteverdi.
posted by en forme de poire at 12:35 AM on March 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

The French Chansons CD from Naxos might be worth looking into, since it's purely a capella polyphonic choral pieces (I own it myself and it's one of my favourites). Church music by Marc-Antoine Charpentier might also be an interesting direction to explore.
posted by rjs at 1:46 AM on March 22, 2012

Get thee to some Palestrina. Or any of these guys.
posted by I_Love_Bananas at 3:00 AM on March 22, 2012

I'm not familiar with the Bach, but check out The Hilliard Ensemble's recordings of Perotin for a great Early Music scratch for your counterpointy chorale itch.
posted by rhizome at 3:07 AM on March 22, 2012

Spem in alium by Thomas Tallis is a masterwork of the genre. It's 40 voices and just astonishing.

They're not baroque but La Cor De Plana are an amazing vocal harmony outfit from Marseille who compose polyphonic marvels in Occitan. Some of the tracks on the 'Tant deman' album totally scratch the same itch for me.
posted by freya_lamb at 6:32 AM on March 22, 2012 [3 favorites]

Came in to recommend Spem in Alium. It's 40 voices, each singing a different line. When I first heard it on the car radio, I had to pull over, with chills chasing each other over my skin and tears on my face.
posted by ottereroticist at 7:40 AM on March 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

A lot of the suggestions you're getting are technically Renaissance-period (Palestrina, Monteverdi, etc.), not Baroque, so you may want to use that in expanding your own search.

Another good Renaissance-period composer that's all about polyphony is Gabrieli, who uses polyphony between both voices and instruments (particularly trumpets/brass) very effectively.
posted by altopower at 8:15 AM on March 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

I like Big Bach and I cannot lie...
posted by Runes at 8:15 AM on March 22, 2012 [2 favorites]

Komm Jesu Komm by Bach is a good example of what you're looking for I think.

Striggio's Ecce beatam lucem for 40 voices.

Some parts of Bach's Christmas Oratorio such as 'Ehre sei Gott in der Hohe' and 'Lasset uns nun gehen gen Bethlehem' have multiple parts in close interaction, but the rest of the work is mostly recitative and chorales...

Not Baroque, but Stanford's Beati quorum via does a similar thing to my brain as the sort of baroque music you're describing.

For non-vocal music, Corelli's Concerti Grossi.

Finally, Monteverdi's Vespers, Palestrina, Pergolesi and Gabrielli.
posted by lizabeth at 8:26 AM on March 22, 2012

yeah, for sure Palestrina. Maybe Josquin des Prez too. Gives me chills, it does.
posted by Mars Saxman at 10:32 AM on March 22, 2012

Response by poster: Thanks everybody for the great recommendations!

The depth of knowledge on Metafilter never ceases to amaze...
posted by zachawry at 5:45 PM on March 22, 2012

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