Probably the best chorus in Europe?

Yannick (below) says it’s Bayerische Rundfunk of Munich.


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  • Best symphonic choir (i.e., for big choral-orchestral works will full-sized symphony orchestras, which would be what Yannick has experience with and cares about)?

    Yeah, I could see the Bavarian Radio Choir in that spot. And they do very well for their size in Bach and Handel, but “for their size” is an important qualification.

    For my money, the best all-purpose concert choirs (meaning not specialized in early music, like The Tallis Scholars and Stile Antico, or new music, like The Crossing and Synergy Voices) are –

    – the Latvian Radio Choir
    – Tenebrae
    – the Gabrielis
    – Cappella Amsterdam

    (I’m not counting Voces8 or Amarcord – I think that if you have eight or fewer members, you’re a chamber ensemble.)

    • I think we need to differentiate between amateur and professional ensembles, comparing like with like. I presume that the Bavarian Radio Choir (like the BBC Symphony Chorus, London Philharmonic Choir, etc.) is largely amateur, whereas the Monteverdi Choir, Tenebrae, etc., are fully professional. (This has nothing to do with quality, of course: some amateur ensembles are fantastic; I’ve heard some pretty dire professional ones!)

      • No,you are wrong! The Choir of the bayerische Rundfunk has similar contracts than the radio orchestras…full professional!!!

        • I stand corrected and should have checked my facts, but I only said ‘I presume … ‘, so please don’t tell me I don’t know what I’m talking about. The general point is still valid. Please don’t be rude – it is surely not necessary.

    • It subsequently occurs to me that I should have included Collegium Vocale Gent – their rep has gotten wide enough (including with conductors other than Herreweghe).

  • Bayerische Rudfunk may indeed have the greatest choir in Europe. They certainly have one of the three greatest orchestras in the world, next to Berlin & Vienna Philharmonics. Incidentally, arguably the best opera chorus is also in Munich.

    • “One of the three greatest orchestras in the world…”
      Clean out your ears.I guess Amsterdam, Philadelphia, Cleveland and Boston just don’t make your list. LOL!

    • “They certainly have one of the three greatest orchestras in the world” – by whose reckoning? I guess Amsterdam, Philadelphia, Cleveland and Boston are just also-rans……

  • agreed, together with Balthasar Neumann Chorus/Th. Hengelbrock which is really an amazing Ensemble.

  • Donald Runnicles quoted The National Youth Choir of Scotland as one of the finest choirs he’s worked with in the world. This would be evident as John Eliot Gardiner has invited the National Youth Choir of Scotland to perform with him over the last few years. Most notably at Carnegie Hall in October 2018 with The Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique.

  • He’s never worked with Spain’s Orfeon Donostiarra Choir then. Spain is rich with outstanding professional choirs, the Chorus of Spain’s Orquesta Nacional is another among them.

    The Orfeon Donostiarra, however, is in a class of their own. This is the best of the best in Spain. They tour internationally and have collaborated with the world’s greatest orchs. and conductors: NY Phil, BBC, Phila, LA Phil, Lucerne Festival, and many more. The conductors, soloists and orchs. they’ve worked with are listed on their website.

    A truly outstanding chorus.

    • He has, actually; the Orfeon Donostiarra was one of the choruses in his performance of Mahler 8 with Rotterdam last year.

      • How can he judge a chorus fairly if they’re combined with other choruses? I stand my ground. Orfeon is the best.

        • On multiple occassions: Apart from Mahler 8 in Rotterdam, he also did Mahler’s Third in 2011 and Verdi’s Requiem in 2014 with them (and Rotterdam Phil) in San Sebastián; so he knows them well and enjoys working with them, for sure!

      • That’s Gergiev. Vimeo won’t let me go to 7:58. Maybe Yannick makes a surprise appearance there, but this looks to be all about Gergiev.

        • From 7:58 it’s about Verdi’s Requiem (Quincena Musical, 26 Aug 2014) with Orfeón Donostiarra, Yannick Nézet-Séguin conducting.

        • So, you’re admitting you didn’t look at the proof Bart suggested…7:58 starts Dies Irae from Verdi Requiem with Yannick conducting. “Never open your mouth ’til you know what the shot is.”

          • I can’t make it start at the time marking he mentioned. I said that. Is that a crime?

  • Don’t know these days but Berlin’s RIAS Kammerchor was (is?) top-notch, in German music particularly. The chorus ensemble at La Scala used to also be top-notch at some point. Not sure if any longer. For my money no one surpasses Germanic choruses. Something about their way with their own language that blows everyone else out of the water.

    • Will anyone other than Gardiner ever work with the Monteverdi Choir?

      (And Gardiner is 75 – will the Monteverdi Choir continue to exist after he is gone?)

    • I think the Latvians have the Swedes beat in the radio choir department.

      (But yes, the Swedish Radio Choir is terrific, and I’m not sure I’d put any radio choir other than the Latvian ahead of them.)

  • Just an opinion, but it’s not a great idea for a traveling conductor to label any orchestra, chorus, soloist, etc., as “the best”. It just creates hard feelings for the ‘runner ups’ and endless bickering by sideline quarterbacks (as shown here).

  • I last heard them with Blomstedt and Beethoven Missa Solemnis, a good choir, but nothing extraordinary. Not better than other radio choirs in Germany or Europe.
    Quality of choirs – particular preparation and form of the day aside – very much oscillates over the years. Around artistic leaders, around the quality of the singers. etc.
    Often when a choir has built a reputation of excellence, then they are already over their peak and vice versa.
    Anyway, Yannick just wanted to say something nice.

  • Whereas the Bayerische Rundfunk Chor is fully professional (so should only be compared with the BBC Singers and their like), the CBSO Chorus is totally amateur. It has sung not only frequently with its parent orchestra, but all across Europe with the Berlin Philharmonic, Vienna Philharmonic, Czech Philharmonic, Royal Concertgebouw, Helsinki Philharmonic, and the Cleveland Orchestra. They have toured Europe, Asia, North America and Australia, where in 2000, they sang Mahler 8th Symphony at the opening concert of the XXVII Olympic Games. In 2015 the chorus made its Mexico debut.

      • Dave, I was using the various orchestras with whom the CBSC has performed to illustrate its international standing and the fact that it is in demand from orchestras of the calibre of the ones I mentioned.

  • It is fantastic that there are so many really fine , professional choirs and choruses in existence. Surely Accentus Choeur de Chambre deserves a mention – great catalogue of recordings, huge range of prestigious engagements since its creation.

  • Only if you heard all of the choirs and had a very good ear could you make such an outrageous claim.

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