Here in America, we have a certain way that we sing German, Romantic music of Mendelssohn, Mahler and Brahms. From my observations, it’s full, rich, warm, dark, and with generous vibrato. Occasionally this can even get swallowed with very soloistic tendencies. It’s the way I’ve done this music for as long as I can remember.
I’m not sure I’ll follow that ideal anymore. I just purchased a recording of the Brahms motets by the RIAS Kammerchor (from Berlin) that is shifting my entire “Romantic” paradigm. The singing is strong and rich, but there’s a balance in the sound between bright and dark and there’s a clarity to it I don’t find in other singing of the same music (especially with the double choir motets). Also, for the most part, vibrato is minimal if present at all. There are times when it really shimmers, and other times when it’s completely straight tone!
It’s a fresh approach that really opened my ears to this exquisite repertoire in a completely new way. I’m beginning to understand Brahms more because of it. This is, of course, in addition to these knock-out interpretations by Marcus Creed.
Fest Und Gedenksprüche, Op. 109, No. 2 – “Wenn Ein Starker Gewappneter”