This is a video of Stefan Kahle singing “Erbarme dich” from the Matthew Passion:

My question: How old was he when this recording was made? Is he here still technically a boy alto (Altus) or is he already technically a counter-tenor? Or to put it another way: Is he singing in the head register (falsetto) or in the chest register?

  • I assume that this question would be better placed at Music Fans section; I consider it as off-topic here.
    – guidot
    Commented Oct 8, 2018 at 6:45
  • 1
    @guidot. My question is about voice technique and authentic performance practice. I would be happy to hear your view on the matter.
    – fdb
    Commented Oct 8, 2018 at 10:01

2 Answers 2


This is clearly a countertenor. If you want to listen to a boy alto in the St Matthews passion, I suggest you listen on YouTube to the Tolzer Knabenchor either directed by Reinhard Goebel (outstanding recording but without filming) or conducted by Christian Fliegner (video). The boy alto singing this aria was Laurenz Ströbl aged 14 or 15. Very different voice.


The video appears to be taken from a DVD that was released in September 2012. Stefan Kahle was born in August 1992. So he was probably 19 when the video was recorded, years after most boys' voices change.

  • Thank you for the information. My problem is that he does not sound like a countertenor. This is a full-blown alto voice.
    – fdb
    Commented Oct 8, 2018 at 15:25
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    @fdb he sounds like a countertenor to me. Like a young countertenor, certainly, but not like a boy whose voice hasn't changed.
    – phoog
    Commented Oct 8, 2018 at 17:26
  • As far as I know, people don't go to sleep one night as boy altos and wake up the next morning as countertenors. Isn't it a bit unrealistic to look for hard and fast lines between the two, especially in the teen years? Commented Nov 15, 2018 at 18:50
  • @ScottWallace I absolutely agree with the proposition that there's no hard and fast line. I only recognized that my voice had changed when one autumn I was singing some music that I had sung the preceding spring, and I found it much more difficult to sing. That was after the summer of my 14th birthday. Most men are quite well past the line, however fuzzy it may be, by the time they're 19 or 20.
    – phoog
    Commented Nov 15, 2018 at 19:31
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    @phoog - true enough, although there are exceptions. I sang in a university choir with a tenor who was twenty or twenty-one whose voice still hadn't changed. He couldn't hit the low notes but helped us quite a bit above around F or G. Commented Nov 15, 2018 at 20:07

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