Chorus Musicus Köln
• Founded 1985
Often appears with
Chorus Musicus Köln is a prominent German choir, oriented toward historical performances of little-known Classical- and Romantic-era works. The group has often worked with Das Neue Orchester and conductor Christoph Spering.
Chorus Musicus Köln was formed in 1985 by Spering, who drew on the membership of his Mülheimer Kantorei, a Cologne-area Protestant church group. Several years later, he formed Das Neue Orchester (The New Orchestra), and the two groups, with Spering, have often worked together as a unit. The Chorus Musicus Köln, however, has also welcomed prestigious guest conductors including Philippe Herreweghe, Gerd Albrecht, and Trevor Pinnock. Those prestigious figures were attracted because the choir quickly established a pan-European reputation. Unlike many historical-performance vocal ensembles, Chorus Musicus Köln is quite large, often numbering more than 100 members. A factor in this difference is that, although the choir's repertory extends as far back as Bach, it has specialized in lesser-known works of the Romantic era, such as Mendelssohn's Symphony No. 2 in B flat major, Op. 54 ("Lobgesang"), where the larger group is appropriate.
Chorus Musicus Köln has a notably large catalog of recordings, many of them made for the Opus 111, Naïve, and Deutsche Harmonia Mundi. Most of it's recorded output focuses on the music of the late 18th and 19th centuries, including such rare works as Robert Schumann's late oratorio Der Rose Pilgerfahrt, Op. 112 (The Pilgrimage of the Rose) and the Christmas Oratorio of the composer Antonio Cartellieri (1772-1807). In 1992, the group gained wide attention for its recording of the 1841 version of Bach's St. Matthew Passion, BWV 244, by Felix Mendelssohn, the world premiere recording of the work. It later performed and recorded Mendelssohn's earlier adaptation of the Passion. In 2020, the Chorus Musicus Köln under Spering, with Das Neue Orchester, issued a new recording of six Bach cantatas on Deutsche Harmonia Mundi.