Music for the spirit and the soul

I had the good fortune of running across Avro Part's Stabat Mater today for the first time, and I've listened to it at least four times today. Although I'm not religious in the traditional sense, this recording moved my soul, brought goose bumps to my body and quieted my mind. Does anyone have other suggestions of classical (or other) music for the feeding of the spirit and the soul?
This will surely do it:
Gorecki's Third Symphony is spine tingling. In fact it hit the pop charts in England a few years back and sold over a million copies.
I'd heartily second Boa2's recommendation (El Cant de la Sibil la). Montserrat Figueras can do no wrong and has an utterly astonishing voice. Get that specific version as there is one other out there that she did that is not quite as well recorded IMO.

Also I enjoy some of the masses of Zelenka... I think the Mass of the Holy Trinity is the one more widely available that I enjoy.

You'd probably enjoy other works of Arvo Part as well...Te Deum comes to mind. I really love Alina as well, but I don't think I'd put it quite in the same category...perhaps it is more soothing than uplifting.

Finally, one that may not otherwise come up as it is a polarizing work; most either love it or hate it. I find it very moving, but it is more in an ambient, minimalist sort of way: Gavin Bryars', Jesus Blood Never Failed Me Yet. Read a bit more about it before purchasing as it may not be the kind of music you have patience for.

Some great suggestions, especially El Cant de la Sibil. Boa2's choice is the 3rd disc on the Sibil (Sibilla, Sibila ...) theme from different periods and regions - I have all 3!!
I saw Montserrat Figueras (of course with Jordi Savall and La Capella Reial de Catalunya) in Paris a few years back and was stunned. This was in a church not far from Place de la Concorde and you can't describe the ambiance, the sound and how wonderful the experience. Just wished my system could get close....
Check out their label Alia Vox that Jordi Savall started to make the music he wanted to do.
Try also Powers of Heaven. Estonian Philharmonic Choir/Hillier on the harmonia mundi label
Just kill me with a visual of that evening in Paris! I will never listen to this disc again without thinking of that experience.

And I'll sign off now to go in search of the other two discs. Thanks to Jax2, I was introduced to the astounding Sibil-la disc, as well as my all-time favorite:
Anouar Brahem: 'Le Pas du Chat Noir'. His 'Astrakan Cafe' is also a winner.
All the best,

You referring to Sorrowful songs? Two options in amazon for Gorecki's Third
Yes. The one that is sonically the best of the lot is David Zinman conducting the London Sinfonietta. Whether it is the best interpretation, I am not sure, but the sound is
Chipman - I'm green with envy that you Savall and Figueras in Paris.
That must have been an unforgettable experience. I heard Savall play
recently here in Seattle, and, though his wife was in attendance, she did
not perform. His daughter was playing with him though. She's an
accomplished harpist. Yes, the Alia Vox label is definitely one to covet
when it comes to Early Music. Not only is the programming wonderful,
but the recordings themselves are second to none! Savall's collections
of his solo efforts are stunning on that label. Also, the collection of
lullabys by Figeurras titled Nina Nana is quite beautiful. If you have not
seen it, rent the French film, "All the Mornings of the World"
(Tous les matins du monde 1991), in which Savall provides all the music.
It is a beautiful and somber portrayal of the relationship of the composer
Monsieur de Sainte Colombe, and his pupil (briefly) Marin Marais (played
brilliantly be Gerard Depardieu). Alia Vox has reissued that soundtrack
and it is also worthy of consideration. This is a departure though from
the 'spiritual' context of this thread as I wouldn't necessarily recommend
Savall's own music based upon the poster's query (though it certainly
may apply though some may find it somber). Regardless, this is among
my favorite music to listen to and I find them very powerful and moving

Thanks for the suggestions. I look forward to listening to some of the recording that were mentioned.

For the spirit and soul, Get gospel music.Try
Michael W Smith, Worship.
Yep, I fell in love with Montserrat....and yes I will never forget that experience in such an intimate environment. The whole family was three including their daughter Adrianna.
Sorry all - I checked my archives and realised I made an error in my first posting. This was back in 1999! Savall and Figueras were playing with their other group Hesperion XXI (peviously XX). They were playing mostly music from a disc they just released at the time "DIASPORA SEFARDI" - one vocal and one instrumental disc (This is another fantastic disc to own). If anyone of you have this disc, there is a photo of them, a small grouping of 9 or 10 musicians altogether - it was exactly like this on a small raised stage.
You guys have got me all going now and I've just gone back and listened to some more of Savall and Figueras' stuff this weekend till 3am ! Just finished listening to "LES VOIX HUMAINES" with just Savall playing the Viole de Gambe - Lyra and Bass, yet sound like human voices singing...
Chipman - Les Voix Humaines is one of my most frequently played CD's of the past few months. Definitely a must...Magic! I agree also on Diaspora Sefardi as well. The collection of Marais and Sainte Columbe titled "Pieces de Viole" is also quite outstanding.

Hope these help your quest, they sooth my soul regularly:
Arvo Part: Cantus in Memory of Benjamin Britten-the 1st time I heard it was in the car, pulled over and waited until it finished. Most of his music can do that as you have discovered.
Alan Hovhaness: Mysterious Mountain, Op.132. My favorite is w/Reiner & Chicago on RCA. There are others that can do it too, but this is #1 in my book.
John Tavener: The Protecting Veil for Cello & Orchestra. A marvelous CD w/Raphael Wallfisch & Royal Philharmonic. Has 2 other pieces that do well also.
This thread is getting interesting and I thought I was the only one listening to this stuff !
Jax2, I'll be interested to know how you got into the Sibil as this is not really mainstream.
My route was quite bizzare. I have been a fan of record label 4AD with 2 of my favourite vocalists, Elisabeth Fraser of Cocteau Twins and Lisa Gerard of Dead Can Dance and more recently known for her collaboration in the film Gladiator. DCD released an album in 1990 called AION a very moving atmosperic album with Gerard's vocals. One track stood out - The Song of the Sibyl. This interpretation, 16th Century Catalan is quite different to those of Figueras but it was enough to get me looking for more...
Anyway, AION by Dead can Dance definitly fits this category.
Back to Elisabeth Fraser, she made one of the most beautiful songs I know 'The Song to the Siren'. With minimal music (strings), her voice has so much passion I could weep...If you can find it on 12" vinyl, this is the one to get, if not then its still worth getting the album by "This Mortal Coil - It'll End In Tears". This Mortal Coil is a project on 4AD where all the artist on the label mix particpate to make music.
Janet Baker sings Mahler on EMI label. One of these Mahler songs by Baker can be heard in the final vignette of "Coffee and Cigarettes," a Jarmusch film of a coupla years ago...
Chipman - My route was more straightforward I suppose (I do enjoy Cocteau Twins, as well as Gerard and DCD - I saw Gerard perform here in Seattle - unforgettable!). I was approached by a good friend to help him upgrade his current system (this seems to happen frequently in this hobby when folks hear what is possible). He and his wife are into Early Music and Sibil was one of the first CD's he brought over to listen to on my system knowing some of the music I enjoyed. We both sat there, dumbfounded, me at the sound of her voice for the first time, and my friend at how present it sounded on my system. He ended up going the way of tubes on further listening and comparisons. At the same time I knew Howard (Boa2), who I'd also lead down the path to hopeless addiction, had a bad case of upgradeidis (I think he still gets the sweats to this day) and was jonesing after some George Wright creations at the time. I hooked him up with my friend Michael who ended up buying Howard's Jolida 502B. He still has it and goes back and forth between that and a Unison Unico. He and his wife are delighted with the improvement in their system (went from some respectable 80's NAD SS gear). It was at that time I think I sent Howard a copy of Sibil. That's my story and I'm stickin' to it!

Yes, Chipman, I blame Marco for sending me two of my desert island discs (Sibil-la and 'Le Pas du Chat Noir' by Anouar Brahem). As well, he was kind enough to offer methadone-laden talks in order to quell my audio addiction to the point where I may have finally settled into audio nirvana. Oh, but I did see a pair to interconnects I want to try....

And I used to live in Paris, Chipman, so stop teasing me with descriptions of Figueras-filled evenings that are only going to make me jealous!

All the best,
Ok Howard, no more Figueras stuff except just to say you are now down the slippery slope of acquiring the entire Alia Vox back catalogue and if you include his previous labels recodings Astree/Auvidis/Harmonia Mundi etc you are in trouble as he started recording in the 60's! You can forget about that pair of interconnects....

I too lived in Paris twice totalling 7 years - this is a great place for concerts ! Can I tell you about Jan Garbarek and the Hilliard Ensemble I attended in the same church.... Try the disc "Officium" - an heavenly match of Sax and a quartet of male voices interpreting early music.
Chipman, The Hillard Ensemble has done some great work with both Arvo Part and Gavin Bryars. If you enjoy Bach, try the disc Morimur for a creative take on that composer.

I'll go in search of the "officium" disc right now. Thank you for the recommendation. I lived in Paris years ago, and my wife and I lived in Florence about three years ago. And when there are enough zeros again in the bank account, we will be living in Europe again, at least for most of the year.

Thanks to everyone for all of the recommendations. I'm printing out this page in order to keep a checklist of must-buy discs.
All the best,
I enjoy Arvo Part and have "De Profundis" with the Theater of Voices, and Hilliard Ensembles take on Miserere which is perhaps one of the grim but moving pieces of music.
Don't know Gavin Bryers so will have to check it out - any disc in particular ?
As for Bach, I'm not buying any more until I get through my Teldec Complete Bach 2000 collection....and with all these new suggestions/distractions I'm not going to get any further!

Now I'm jealouse! I adore Italy, especially Florence and Bergamo, the Northern Lakes, Venice.....
John Coltrane's A Love Supreme, Sunship, First Meditations, and Transitions are all excellent recordings of The Quartet--McCoy, Elven, Jimmy, and Trane. These were recorded, I believe, from late '63 through '65. It is my favorite period of Coltrane's career.

Everytime I listen to one of these sides, I take a moment at the end to reflect on the totality of what I have just heard. I don't know, but there isn't too much other music that does this to me.
Faure's Requiem, in it orignal version sung in a chapel by a small group, Herreweghe's 1st version on Harmonia Mundi, is as intimate and moving as Requiems come. Subsequently he did a version for a larger orchestra which is also outstanding and includes and excellent Symphony in D Minor. You can take your pick and not be disappointed.
Sacred Treasures: Choral Masterworks from Russia on the Hearts of Space label is tremendous - exactly what you're looking for. The music is unbelievable beautiful and the recording and performances are absolutely first rate.
Joni Mitchell "Hejira"
If you are looking for quiet, contemplative and spiritual music, like the Part piece, trie Somei Satoh: "Birds in Warped Time II" I believe there is only one available recording.

For music on a grander scale, try Lauridsen: "Lux Aeterna"
Many thanks to those who recommended
Hillard Ensemble: "Officium" and "Morimur"
Just received them, and they are absolutely phenomenal. Now, if I could just move my system into a big hall. Or better yet, a cathedral.
Which volume of the Sacred Treasures? There are three available.
Great thread!!
Hi -
Sorry for the delay - I was out getting married today!
To me, personally, Vol. 1 just barely edges out Vol. 3, but they are both fantastic. Volume 2 is a horse of a slightly different color, and I haven't heard that one.
Hope this helps.
Thanks for your response, the best for you in your new life stage!!!
El Cancionero de Medinaceli
Hesperion XX
Jordi Savall

Just bought this one as well. It is described on the CD cover as the music of Philip II of Spain, which is quite varied stylistically. What an uplifting CD!

It just never ends...
How about Mahler Symphony 3 or 5?
If you like Avro Part, you might also like Alan Berg or Poulence.
Kronos Quarter also have many great albums. Check them out!
I nearly forgot. This is more of a vocals record, but you cannot hear the voice of Virginia Rodrigues (on 'Sol Negro') and not be moved to the core. An astounding Brazilian singer.
Thanks for all the suggestions! I've managed to find/order a few of these cds (e.g., El Cant... and Gorecki's 3rd) and absolutely love them. Unfortunately, it sometimes takes a while to obtain less popular music, especially here in the Canadian Rockies. A small music store just opened a few months ago, and they can't always obtain what I want. Amazon is helpful, but they also take a while (I waited for El Cant de la Sibil for close to 2 months). I look forward to finding more of these suggestions.

I think someone may have mentioned this before--sorry, I'm too lazy to reread all of the posts--but the music to "Tous les Matins du Monde" (orchestration by Jordi Savall) is extraordinary as well.
Since December, I've found more of the excellent suggestions mentioned above and some new works.

One in particular is a new CD by Christos Hatzis - Awakening (2005, EMI Classics). Briefly, I found this work to be deep and emotional. It impresses as being similar to Arvo Part, yet with a contemporary feel. Well worth listening to.

I forgot to mention Savall's Homenatge al Misteri D'Elx which also features M. Figueras - another worth having, especially if you like El Cant de la Sibil la.

Nicole Mullens "Talk About It". Iris Dement "lifeline". Natalie Merchants " House Carpenters Daughter". Of the 3 cds I mention here Nicole Mullens contribution is the most uplifting and out and out musical. Its fun. I like Dements and Merchants reworking of more traditional songs because they are full of the personality that you could only get via such unique voices. True- Merchants contribution here is of songs that are well known both in folk and christian music.
Azam Ali's latest is a band called Niyaz and is a collaboration with two members of Axiom of Choice...