Good vocal recordings

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I've been needing a nice CD that features some beatiful vocals. I'd prefer a large choral arrangement with some instruments backing them up. But, most of all I would like the recording to have an excellent sound stage. I'm trying to get something to show off my ESLs.
Any suggestions on some a capella classical pieces, as well?
Thanks in advance.
Complex vocal recording

If you want a recording which will test the "staging" merits of any system -- get a copy of the Tallis Scholars singing <em>Spem in Alia</em> --this is an a capella piece from the time of Mary Stuart for double choir . <p>btw, neither my wife no our choir director thought it funny when I translated the title to "Hope in Onions", but you either have to be a gardener or a student of latin ...
BTW me same as trwh, very like Leonard Cohen vocal, especially the old album (use acoustic instrument), if you want hear his vocal with choral background try "Future" album with song title "Anthem" wait for respond

Warm Regards,
Datoek Jacques
I have a record with Emma Kirkby singing Exultate jubilate on the L'Oiseau Lyre label. Great voice and a fabulous recording in my book:

Composers: Mozart
Title: Exsultate Jubilate/Regina Coeli/Ergo Interest etc.
Artists: Emma Kirkby/Westminster Cathedral Boys' Choir, Christopher Hogwood, Chorus & Orchestra of The Academy of Ancient Music
International release date: November 1984
Catalogue number: 411832
Series : L'Oiseau-Lyre
Label: Decca

phishead8 and all,

ought to post this in the trumpet thread, just got a new record today. Dinah Washington "Dinah jams" on Mercury MG36000. Availabe on CD, but it is a mono recording, with a mono window giving view to a very natural soundstage.
I can recommend the CD, compared to the OP vinyl is is somewhat smoothed and the edges are gone, but very pleasant.

However be careful not to get zapped by the energy emerging from Ms. Washington's voice. "No more" is only for advanced listeners, harmonics are close to 12-tone music.

OK but you wanted exceptional stereo recordings with good vocals. I have few CDs in my collection but i give vinyl hints with breathtaking sonics as well as breathtaking performances which are worth to be searched as CD version.

  1. Palestrina, Missa Papae Marcelli & Missa Brevis, David Willcocks cond. Choir of Kings College, Cambridge (EMI 1C063-02113)
  2. J.S.Bach, Matthew's Passion BWV244, Phillip Herweghe cond. (Harmonia Mundi France HMC1155.57)
  3. Haydn?: Jefta on ATR/proprius
  4. L.v. Beethoven, 9th Symphony "Choral", Rene Leibowitz cond. RPOL,
    (RCA Custom/Readers Digest RDS-34/1-7)
  5. L.v. Beethoven, 9th Symphony "Choral", oops, mono!!, Erich Kleiber cond.VPO (Decca UK LXT 2725 & 2726)
  6. Puccini,Turandot (RCA Victor LSC-6149)
  7. J.Strauss, Die Fledermaus, Carlos Kleiber (Deusche Grammophon 2740 152)
  8. Bartok, Bluebeard's Castle, I.Kertesz cond.LSO, W.Berry, Ch.Ludwig, (Decca UK SET311)
  9. Alban Berg, Wozzeck, Pierre Boulez cond., Walter Berry, Isabel Strauss (CBS SET 3002)
  10. not classical: Jennifer Warnes "The Hunter". Okok, it is a heavily mixed recording, but music is gorgeous and "lights of lousianne" and "the hunter" is sonically remarkable, such intimacy is rarely heard.

    **off-topic, not vocal**
    to point 5, this is a very very good mono recording but it is not near as outstanding sonically as Erich Kleiber's 1953 recording of LvB's 5th symphony: Decca UK LXT2851 later re-issued as LXT 5358 and available as CD Decca 467125-2 (including LvB 3rd symphony, too).
    BTW and IMO, performance-wise, this 5th is only the 2nd best ever done but the best available at the moment. Kleiber's 3rd is the best performance ever.
Jefta = from G.F. Haendel ;)


this music is just playing in the ORF austrian radio station OE1, live from the Innsbruck Festival of Old Music while I type this - live broadcast often beats any recording hands down...
I did a recording for the ORF recently with two schoeps microphones with music from György Kurtag (Kafka Fragments) and Morton Feldman (Spring of Chosroes). A pity that I did not use a 24bit recorder or a tape machine - 16bit even with the necessary limiter (and a -20db pad) cannot cope with the dynamics and force of the pure voice...

Just some more vocal & vinyl tips - analogue recording with very high quality and musical enchantement:
(one example from each label/company - forget all CD versions if available)

G.F.Haendel Duets and Cantatas sung by Maria Zadori and Paul Esswood
recorded 1984 by (the Master) Andras Sekely
SLPD 12564-65
(do not miss the fantastic Hungaraton recordings...)

Danses Anciennes De Hongrie Et De Transylvanie
played by the Clemencic Consort / Rene Clemencic
recorded 1977 by (the great Master) Alberto Paulin
HM 1003
(sorry no vocal recording, I just picked out the first one - but what a recording! This is one to explain yourself that digital did not make the trick yet...))

Baroque Music from Drottingholms Barockensemble with Andrew Dalton/countertenor
recorded 1976 by Bertil Alving (with two neumanns and a RevoxA77 !)

Renaissance Music in Naples played by HesperionXX / Jordi Savall
recorded 1983 by Gerd Berg (early digital and DMM unfortunately)
1C 076
(- I love the voice of Montserrat Figueras !!! )

Billie Holiday: Body and Soul
recorded in 1957
(no comment)

Taj Mahal: Recycling the Blues & Other Related Stuff
recorded 1972 by David Brown and George Engfer
(listen to Taj singing with the young Pointer Sisters "Sweet Home Chicago" - anyone not thrilled take the back door out)

TalkTalk: Spirit of Eden
recorded 1988 by Phil Brown (again digital and DMM...)
(an interesting multitrack recording which sounds very open - the music is up to taste - I like it)

Joni Mitchell: Hejira
recorded 1976 by Henry "Inspirational" Lewy and mastered by Bernie Grundman
(an alltime classic)

Nick Drake: Pink Moon
recorded 1972 by John Wood / Joe Boyd Witchseason productions
(what happened to this fabulous duo ? their recordings from the early seventies are breathtaking in a real musical sense)

lesser known but gret music and recordings:

PAVIAN (Bratislawa)
Iva Bittova
recorded 1990 by Pavel Fait
(she is something special indeed)

Clive Gregson & Christine Collister: Home and Away
recorded 1986 live by Jamie Marshall on a TEAC 244 Portastudio !

Radka Toneff and Steve Dobrogosz: Fairytales
recorded 1979 and 1982 by Arild Anderson

I could go on and on - but stop:
And happy listening !

A couple of candidates for superb female voice recordings:

Arias for Farinelli, Vivica Genaux, on Harmonia Mundi
Pianto della Madonna, Monteverdi, on Harmonia Mundi
Le mystere des voix bulagares, 'A Cathedral Concert', on Verve

Many years ago, I heard an excellent version of Sondheim's 'Send in the Clowns', by a female singer (not Streisand). Does anyone know who this could have been? I have been searching for this for a long time, without success.
Sorry, could not stop myself from posting some other off-topic hints, i am not too much into vocal, but i have dipole speakers, too.

Lay your hands on **anything** recorded by the Walisian harpsichordist Davitt Moroney. He is a specialist for J.S.Bach, for William Byrd and other ancient composers as well. Particularly his recordings made on harmonia mundi France are recommended. Most of them made by Jean-Francois Pontefract (and some by Alberto Paulin). Breathtaking sonics. Try to hunt them on vinyl. But CD also is ok.
Performance-wise, well, Moroney's Well-Tempered Clavier is questionend by some, i like it very much. His Art-of-Fugue is outstanding IMO, only on par with Helmut Walcha's organ recording of the same opus, made on Archiv/Deutsche Grammophon and played on the organ of de Groote Kerk in Almaar, Netherlands.

Addition to point 5 of my list above: Why the heck did they invent stereo?, i often wonder when listening to that recording.
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Most of my stuff is on vinyl, but...

My number one vocal reference is Sinead O'Connor's I do not want what i haven't got (the vinyl is awesome, the CD is so-so).

On CD i have found a number of Victor Lazlo recordings that are quite good.

Patricia Barber, cafe blue. The 180 g viynl is really good, the CD isn't bad either.

(if you can't tell, i am a big fan of female vocals).

Sinead o'Connor indeed has an impressive voice and she seems to know how ot use it ... tried out her website ... says "under construction, check back soon for coming album" but no idea how long this tag is hanging there already.

Reminds me on another female weirdo: Nina Hagen. Her 1st two almbums are vocally just stunning, vocal skill and technique are unequalled IMO. Many opera singers i could name look sad if compared with her, she keeps pitch even when she screams, yells :) . And she has an incredible range of emotions she can quote, fake, also transfer in an honest manner with her voice.
I just do not recommend to discuss her lyrics here :)

I use these records frequently as test records, not because they are so natural but because i know the recordings mistakes so well, anyway, except soundstaging, these are very good recordings.

Your mentioning of Nina Hagen (her first record was indeed one of the best German albums to date) reminded me immediately of the sondtrack of the Movie "The fifth Element".
A young soprano with name Inva Mula Tchako is performing an aria from the Donizetti Opera "Lucia di Lammermoor" (the "mad scene"). There isn't the whole aria on the Album however. In the movie the aria is perfomed by an alian Diva and when suddenly shootings and fightings break out the music gets "technoid" and the singing is turning quite wild and weird (that's what reminded me of Nina Hagen).
But the part that is "original" is the most touching performance of this aria I have heard so far.

The rest of the movie soundtrack is not that interesting IMO.



P.S. For those who like to see/hear Inva Mula perform live: she will appear in Verdi's "La Traviata" in Covent Garden this December.
Well, well, well,

Just listen to some of Dead Can Dance albums from the past 10 years, listen to the voice of Lisa Gerrard, also some of the recordings of Marta Sebestyen and of course The Mystery of the Bulgarian Voices - all marvelous stuff, all out of this world.

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