I don’t intend to make a habit of gimmick posts, but for whatever reason, as I was surveying my music collection recently, I asked myself: if I had to pick five of my albums, and only five albums, to last me through the rest of my earthly existence, which five would I pick?
In the interest of a full disclaimer: I wish I knew more and understood more about music. I can’t claim any particular expertise, other than that of an enthusiastic listener. Unfortunately, this means that I can’t explain in any satisfying way why you should like these albums; I do ask your pardon for this failure on my part.
As to my five: I’m not sure I have a final answer yet; some on this list have a firmer grip on their spot than others. But, for the sake of it, here’s the five I came up with:
1. Handel: Messiah
Taverner Choir & Players, Andrew Parrott
Confession: when I was a student at Bob Jones, the University choirs combined for a performance of Messiah. My incredibly profound evaluation: “That whole thing could have been done in fifteen minutes without all the repetition.” Since that time, I have repented.
At this point, I’m actually not sure that a person can be thoroughly Christian and not love Messiah.
I’m partial to this recording, primarily because I tend to like period performance recordings with smaller choirs.
2. Grechaninov: Passion Week
Phoenix Bach Choir, Kansas City Chorale, Charles Bruffy
I admit that some bias may well have crept into this selection: I had opportunity to attend a few performances and practices of the Phoenix Bach Choir (now The Phoenix Chorale); they are awe-inspiring. For those who read this blog who live in the Phoenix, do your soul a favor and attend one of their concerts. If you visit their website, you’ll also see that they do free, open rehearsals occasionally.
Did I mention that they are free? You have no excuses whatsoever.
This recording was Grammy-winning, if I recall correctly. The full CD booklet is available from Chandos’s website. I would love to link to a full recording of this on lala, but it is unavailable there. If you download albums anywhere, get a copy of this one; it is very, very rich.
3. J. S. Bach: Cello-Suiten
This selection was very difficult; I could quite easily fill this entire list with Bach, and be justified in doing so. However, I wanted at least some variety.
For me, the choice was between Bach’s cello suites and his sonatas and partitas for solo violin. I would hate especially to give up the Chaconne, but the cello suites were my gateway into Bach, and for that reason hold a particularly special place in my affections.
4. Psalms for the Soul
Choir of St. John’s, Elora; Noel Edison
This is a relatively newer addition to my collection, so its position here is perhaps a bit shaky. However, I find the simple Psalm-singing on this album to be very contemplative.
5. Arvo Pärt: A Tribute
Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir, Theatre of Voices, The Pro Arte Singers, Paul Hillier
If memory serves, I was introduced to the music of composer Arvo Pärt through the blogging of dissidens; Thank you, dissidens. This album doesn’t have all of my favorite Pärt pieces, although I do love the Berliner Messe and “Which was the son of…” at great deal. It lacks his “The Beattitudes” (track 11 here), which may be my very favorite of his choral works.
What think ye? And, would anyone else like to offer their five “desert island” albums?