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Choral Tone Comparison: Rachmaninoff

Updated: Feb 4, 2018

(If you are a member of the public accessing this post, it is intended for my choral conducting class at Roberts Wesleyan College. Please forgive the "instructions"!)


Listen to these two examples of an excerpt from "Воскресение Христово видевше," Op. 37, No. 10, by Sergei Rachmaninoff.


A: St. Petersburg Chamber Choir/Korniev


B: Robert Shaw Festival Singers/Shaw


Although there are differences in interpretation, concentrate only on the choral tone in each recording. Answer the following questions in a comment:

  1. How would you describe the tone of A and of B?

  2. Which recording did you prefer?

  3. Why did you prefer it over the other?

After commenting yourself, come back and read your classmates' comments. Be ready to discuss in class.

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33 Comments


Lydia Roselund
Lydia Roselund
Feb 17

I think that A had a full tone and that each voice part really stood out. Whereas in recording B the parts felt more cohesive, like they were working together to create one sound, and not working against each other. For this reason I preferred B over A.

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Jack Fecik
Jack Fecik
Feb 17

It's hard to describe but I felt choir A had this "Earthy" sound to their texture. All of the soloistic voices coming through created a very interesting texture. It almost sounded as if they contrasted this with unification during the piano section, a very interesting take on the music. Choir B was more unified, yes, but without the solo voices coming through it didn't have the same punch that choir A did and felt like it was missing something. I preferred choir A for their overall sound, even if they were focused on soloist sound and not unified sound.

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Cecilia Guerra
Cecilia Guerra
Feb 16

This was a hard one for me as I feel both choirs brought really unique qualities to the table. Starting with B, I thought their blend was very nice and that their sense of vibrato was fitting for the space they were in, but it lacked in intensity and power. In recording A, I felt that it was much more powerful, full, and intense. At times, I feel that it was a bit too much in the space and individual parts got lost. But, choir A did a fantastic job of bringing a sense of intensity and sharp dynamics. Given the intent of the piece, I feel that choir A's tone was a better fit.

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Kennedy Pattison
Kennedy Pattison
Feb 13

Rachmaninoff: A: This recording seemed to oscuro to me, and the balance along with the tone was not the clearest it could have been. B: This group's tone was brighter than the first group, but, in some ways, the tone could be more balanced. I think they used chiaroscuro the best over the first recording. I prefer B because the group members were well-balanced with each other, and the tone was a lot clearer than in the previous recording.

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haldeman_ruth
haldeman_ruth
Feb 13, 2022

Choir A was more oscuro and heavy, resulting in a very powerful interpretation of this piece to their audience.

The difference is quite stark between the 2 choirs.

Choir B had more of a chiaro sound overall as well as a greater dynamic contrast, moving as one with unified vowels and sound.

I overall like the sound of choir A more, but with added expression of dynamic contrasts and such from choir B.

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