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Thread: The TC Top 100 Most Recommended Choral Works

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    Default The TC Top 100 Most Recommended Choral Works

    Welcome to the TC Top 50 Most Recommended Choral Works

    This thread is a continuation of a project that includes TC Top 100 Recommended Operas, TC Top 150 Recommended Symphonies, TC Top 100 Recommended Keyboard Concerti, TC Top 50 String Ensembles, TC Top 50 String Concerti, TC Top 50 Woodwind & Brass Concerti, and TC Top 200 Recommended Solo Keyboard Works. General discussion of this project can be found in the TC Lists thread. In particular the last couple of pages from the TC Lists thread discusses introductory thoughts on the Choral List.

    The Project philosophy is summarized below:

    - The TalkClassical members with a wide variety of interests and experiences can reach a consensus on the top works from a variety of musical forms.
    - The process should lead to some interesting debate and discussion regarding these various specialized areas of music.
    - The resulting list will be posted as a Sticky Thread and may be used as reference points for both newcomers and long-time classical listeners to the world of classical music and to specific areas of classical music as defined by these lists.

    Those of us who run this project understand and respect the fact that not all of us enjoy lists and polls, but we ask that you refrain from criticisms here in respect for those of us who do.

    Round 0 - Pre-Nomination Discussion

    Before the nomination rounds begin, let's first start with comments, questions, and suggestions. We would like everyone to contribute to this process as all of your opinions are valuable to the end result of this forum recommended list and it is also an effective way to gauge expected participation for the remainder of the project.

    We must agree on the requirements for works to be nominated. In the TC Lists thread there was a brief discussion defining a choral work. That discussion led to this list:

    Suggested Choral Work Requirements:

    1) A majority of movements must have vocal parts (i.e. Beethoven's 9th would not qualify).
    2) The work must have movements with choruses (i.e. more than a certain number of singers). Songs/Lieder are not included.
    3) a cappella works are included.
    4) If a work has qualified for a prior TC list and meets our choral requirements it can also qualify for this list.

    Please fell free to comment on these requirements as they are not set in stone.

    Finally, there are several online lists of choral works that people can look at for suggestions.

    - DDD Greatest Classical Choral Works
    - Western Kentucky University List

    Further suggestions can be found in the TC Lists thread toward the end.

    We welcome all participants. Let the fun begin!
    Last edited by mmsbls; Jan-01-2012 at 18:18.

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    Senior Member Trout's Avatar
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    Since songs are to be excluded from the list, what about their cousins- anthems, odes, and madrigals? If madrigals are allowed, I think it would be most logical to separate them by books. Also, I wouldn't mind if the list extended past 50 (100 possibly?) considering the vast amount of choral music in existence.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mmsbls View Post
    4) If a work has qualified for a prior TC list and meets our choral requirements it can also qualify for this list.
    Is this also true for pieces that made the TC opera list? There is some ambiguity surrounding Berlioz's La Damnation de Faust and some of Handel's oratorios if they are operas, choral pieces, or both.

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    Something important boundaries need to be worked out:

    Is it necessary for a composition to have all four parts (SATB)? Can it have only two or three?
    Is the number of singers per part important? In other words, does there have to be more than one singer for each vocal line?

    These questions are mainly important for Medieval/Renaissance repertoire. If there must be at least four vocal parts, then this excludes most vocal Medieval repertoire, which was mostly written in 2-3 parts. Renaissance-era madrigals, masses, motets, and part-songs usually had at least four parts but there was usually only one singer for each line - should these be excluded? (I'm thinking "no.")
    Man is an intelligence in servitude to his organs.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Trout View Post
    Is this also true for pieces that made the TC opera list? There is some ambiguity surrounding Berlioz's La Damnation de Faust and some of Handel's oratorios if they are operas, choral pieces, or both.
    These should qualify. Many oratorios can be both performed in the concert hall and staged as an opera.
    "Summit or death, either way, I win" ~R. Schumann

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    Hooray for the continuation of these threads. Its always exciting taking part just to see what the end result is. I look forward to voting on this one as I love choral music.

    Im not too confident on all the classification used in renaissance/medieval music, but my contribution to this pre-voting discussion is to provide agreement with Air's post above.
    "Beware of listening to this impostor; you are undone if you once forget that the fruits of the earth belong to us all, and the earth itself to nobody." - Rousseau

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    Quote Originally Posted by mmsbls View Post
    Best thing ever. Had I known about that three years ago, there might not be a classical project music today. Thanks for that link.
    Liberty for wolves is death to the lambs.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Trout View Post
    Since songs are to be excluded from the list, what about their cousins- anthems, odes, and madrigals? If madrigals are allowed, I think it would be most logical to separate them by books. Also, I wouldn't mind if the list extended past 50 (100 possibly?) considering the vast amount of choral music in existence.
    I'm happy to extend this list past 50, but I think we should start toward 50 and see how things go. The Keyboard list extended past 100 when it was clear that voter participation would allow that.

    I think the issue of songs, madrigals, and other types of vocal works should be dealt with by reference to the requirements. If we require a choral part, then any work with only one voice (one person) does not qualify. See below for what I think is the real issue.

    Quote Originally Posted by Trout View Post
    There is some ambiguity surrounding Berlioz's La Damnation de Faust and some of Handel's oratorios if they are operas, choral pieces, or both.
    There seems to be a desire to have these qualify and I would agree.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ravellian View Post
    Is it necessary for a composition to have all four parts (SATB)? Can it have only two or three?
    Is the number of singers per part important? In other words, does there have to be more than one singer for each vocal line?
    I think this issue is really the crux of the requirements. If we accept that all works must have a choral part, we must decide what that means. Does a chorus require more than one person singing each voice? I think not. For example, Spem in Alium has 40 separate voices, but I think everyone would agree that it should count. When I look up chorus, the definition that most seems to fit is, "A group singing in unison". That is pretty vague, but maybe we could simply say a group is more than 2.

    I think all the questions about oratorios, madrigals, songs, etc. could in theory be decided by referring to the 2 requirements (1) and (2) - a majority of vocal movements and at least one choral movement (i.e. a group singing in unison).

    Would people be happy with the original requirements listed in the OP with the additional definition of chorus (in part 2) as a group of at least 3 people singing in unison? If not, what would you suggest?

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    Quote Originally Posted by mmsbls View Post
    Would people be happy with the original requirements listed in the OP with the additional definition of chorus (in part 2) as a group of at least 3 people singing in unison? If not, what would you suggest?
    This sounds reasonable. No reason to exclude most of the early repertoire.
    Man is an intelligence in servitude to his organs.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mmsbls View Post
    I think all the questions about oratorios, madrigals, songs, etc. could in theory be decided by referring to the 2 requirements (1) and (2) - a majority of vocal movements and at least one choral movement (i.e. a group singing in unison).

    Would people be happy with the original requirements listed in the OP with the additional definition of chorus (in part 2) as a group of at least 3 people singing in unison? If not, what would you suggest?
    This brings up the inconvenient question of whether to include part-songs or not. Several of my favorite Schumann works fall under this category - having parts for SATB or even a "choir" of women/men's voices. Liederspiel, the semi-dramatic cross between Singspiel and Lieder, also presents a problem. Take the Spanisches Liederspiel, op. 74 for instance. It has 10 songs, a majority of which are duets, and two "quartets" for SATB. By your definition, it would qualify for the list. In that case, I may have to move it near the top next to much larger-scale works such as Walton's Belshazzar's Feast and Bach's Magnificat.

    In my opinion, we might want to consider special requirements for a Renaissance list or even better, differentiate between SATB polyphony (distinct parts) and SATB homophony (supporting parts). Almost all Renaissance madrigals and such would fall under the first category, while Romantic part-songs and Liederspiel such as Schumann's Liederspiel and Schubert's D.920 generally do not. Also, the latter often have piano accompaniment - which is far different from the a capella Renaissance style or even the concertante madrigals of the post-Monteverdi era, which sound a lot less intimate.

    From wiki:

    A part song (or either part-song or partsong) is a form of choral music which consists of a secular song which has been written or arranged for several vocal parts, commonly SATB choir, but also for an all-male or all-female ensemble. It is usually primarily homophonic, with the highest part carrying the melody and the other voices supplying the accompanying harmonies, rather than contrapuntal like a madrigal. Partsongs are intended to be sung unaccompanied unless an instrumental accompaniment is specified.
    Furthermore, Wikipedia lists Liederspiel and part-songs under the "lieder" category while larger oratorios and choral works are listed under the "choral and dramatic" category.

    I don't know where something like Schubert's D.913 would fit in this all.

    Sorry, mmsbls, for bringing up another confusing matter.
    Last edited by Air; Jan-02-2012 at 21:01.
    "Summit or death, either way, I win" ~R. Schumann

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    It appears that we're having problems defining what we mean by chorus. I think we have 3 choices.

    1) Group of X people (or more) singing together where X is small (say 3 or 4)
    2) Group of X people (or more) singing together where X is larger (more than 7 or 8?). This would maybe match more with what people generally think about choruses.
    3) A complicated definition that takes into account things like the type of work (madrigal, Cantata, part-songs, etc.), the type of texture (polyphonic, homophonic, mixed), and perhaps other things.

    I think number 3 is too complicated, and I'd rather not go there. I personally feel that something along the lines of number 2 is closest to what most people here think of as choral music, but I don't know what the right number of singers is to exclude things that we feel are not choral but not exclude things people feel are choral.

    I also think most people (assuming we'll have more than 3 or 4 people participating) don't seem to care that much. Maybe people just want to get started.

    So I guess I'll ask for input once more and hopefully people can give me enough feedback to finalize the requirements and get started.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mmsbls View Post
    I also think most people (assuming we'll have more than 3 or 4 people participating) don't seem to care that much. Maybe people just want to get started.
    Precisely.

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    I just thought I'd point out that whatever we leave out here, we need to be careful to include in later projects.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Klavierspieler View Post
    I just thought I'd point out that whatever we leave out here, we need to be careful to include in later projects.
    If that's the case, we've kind of already dropped the ball with Die Kunst der Fuge.


    I'm ready to roll, but I believe it's best to settle the classification first.


    Here's my proposition:

    This vocal list is intended for everything non-lied. Basically, use your own discretion. If you really don't know, feel free to ask the rest of us. Most part-songs, madrigals, organa (such as those by Pérotin), Hildegard's Ordo Virtutum, Gregorian chant ... these are not closely related to lieder, so they are included. In short, everything that one could consider "choral music", whether smaller or larger scale, does the trick. Most duets, some trios, liederspiel, liturgical songs, etc... these generally lean more towards the lied category, and will be included on the next (other) vocal list.

    Maybe a few additional days before we begin in order to consider part-songs, madrigals, Medieval works, etc. as well. 100 is pretty much a given now... and depending on the circumstances, we may even have to expand the list further.

    What do you all think?
    Last edited by Air; Jan-03-2012 at 03:30.
    "Summit or death, either way, I win" ~R. Schumann

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    What do you guys think of Dowland's songs? They're written in such a format that they can be played by a variety of combinations of instruments and voices.

    I think that since they were probably intended for lute and voice (Dowland was a lutenist and singer) and since they are (I believe) usually performed that way, they should be saved for the Art Song list.

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