Pergolesi is one of my favorite baroque choral composers.
You can find one of his records bellow or you can use different sources.http://www.gemm.com/item/-/PERGOLESI%2520STABAT%2520MATER%2520LP/GML1447364824/
Run down a copy of "The Tallis Scholars Sing Thomas Tallis" (a 2 CD set on Gimell, Amazon has it new and used).
Tallis was a 16th century English composer who wrote both Catholic and Protestant music (remember Henry VIII) but he has some gorgeous pieces. Excellent recording.
+1 on the Pergolesi Stabat Mater Florilegium. It is terrific on Channel Classics CD (SACD/Redbook/DSD/Surround 5.0)
Also recommend "Rheinberger: Sacred Choral Works", on Chandos (SACD/Redbook/DSD/Multi-channel).
And for something different, withelectronica meshed in, try Paul Schwartz "State of Grace".
I would suggest you pick up the Hyperion SACD of works by Morten Lauridsen, with his Lux Aeterna and O Magnum Mysterium. A contemporary composer with his own musical language, but some of the most moving choral music I have ever heard or sung. You might also want to check out some of the recordings by the smaller English and other choirs such as the Cambridge Singers, The Sixteen, the Tallis Scholars, Chanticleer or the Corydon Singers, among others, they have made a number of recordings of some varied smaller scale choral works from all periods that might get you interested in the works of some of the composers of choral music. And if you want to venture into some larger scale choral works which still work for smaller choruses, there are a number of fine recordings of the Faure and Durufle Requiems that you could buy, two of my favorite works in the genre.
Excellent guys--thanks! Please keep them coming!
My most favorite choral piece - The Faure Requiem, in the original version for choir only, performed by Herreweghe on Harmonia Mundi. Absolutely beautiful intimate music sung in a chamber.
In the same spirit but for those who want an orchestra as well, albeit a chamber orchestra, is Herreweghe's 2d disc on Harmonia Mundi. Take your pick.
FWIW the latter disc also includes an excellent Franck Symphony in B which is smaller in scale and a relief from normal (i.e. overblown, IMHO) versions.
If you are not familiar with these works, or versions, you should give them a listen. I'm not sure that they are, but they may be ones that Rcprince referred to in his post, although they are more commonly presented as large force pieces with a full orchestra.
I used to have CD titled "Invocation" by various choral artists. Few tracks belonged to Hillard Ensamble. The whole CD is able to relief any stress or depression.
My favorite scaled down version of the Durufle Requiem (probably because I know some of the singers and have heard them perform in concert and at a few funerals) is the Voices of Ascension recording on Delos, surprisingly called The Durufle Album. If you can find it (long since out of print, as Delos sadly is no more, I believe), one of the things I like about it is that the women in the choir pretty much sing straight tone (little or no vibrato), which fits the piece beautifully, since it is based on plainsong chants.
The Herwigge discs mentioned by Newbee are excellent versions of the Faure.
Just in time ... Arkiv Music
is having a sale on Choral Music this week.
Britten's Ceremony of Carols on Argo Lp is a wonderful piece and some of the solo work (with harp) is incredibly immediate, almost ghostly-real. Good, sometimes haunting tunes, too. Must have a really good tracking cart/arm for some of the high, forte passages towards the end!
I second Durufle's Requiem, probably Hyperion's Best/Corydon on CD....
Try the music of Hildegard Von Bingen: 11,000 Virgins by the Anonymous 4 (females) on Harmonia Mundi. She was a 12th Century abbess who was a poet and composer. The music is chants about the legend of St. Ursula and the Eleven Thousand Virgins. The singing is ethereal with a crystalline clarity.
For something really different try the Kodaly Girls Choir of Budapest recordings. A favorite is "Hungarian Songs" on Angel Records, the music of Zoltan Kodaly and Bela Bartok. Unusual music that is beautiful and at times very haunting.
Excellent! Thanks everyone. I'm generating a list and will keep tracking the thread and add as new suggestions are made. I really appreciate your collective contributions.
Memories - Sing Along with Mitch by Mitch Miller on vinyl is a fantastic recording.
Everything I have heard by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir on CD is quite good also.
I am particularly fond of Robert Shaw's Telarc recordings. While many of the pieces are not the small scale that you are looking for, the recording quality sets the standard for the genre. Verdi's "Requiem" is a stand out and they are releasing a 32 bit remastered Stavinsky's "Firebird Suite" at the end of the month.
The old Shaw/Telarc Carmina Burana from the 80's is a nice recording with lots of choral passages.
Also check out the Harmonia Mundi recordings of the music of Carlo Gesualdo; one of the most interesting personalities in all of musical history. His madrigals, composed in the late Rennaisance period are stunningly beautiful, and are literally centuries ahead of their time with their amazing use of chromaticism and dissonance.
Frogman, I agree 100%! I love the music of Gesualdo, and have been preaching about him to friends and colleagues for a long time!
I do not have the Harmonia Mundi recordings, though - who are the performers?
My favorite recording I have is the Book of Fifth Madrigals in a performance by the Consort of Musicke (Emma Kirkby on the top voice) on the L'Oiseau-Lyre label.
Super guys--keep them coming. I'm headed to Princeton Record Exchange next month and will bring your suggestions!
Les Arts Florissants, William Christie
"Madrigals In Five Parts"
Includes several madrigals from his last three books of madrigals which is, as you know, when things got really interesting. Amazing to think this music was written four hundred years ago.
Ensemble Vocal Européen, Philippe Herreweghe
Thanks, Frogman - another nice performance I have of some of his church music is called Tenebrae, with the Hilliard Ensemble on the ECM New Series label.