The PURCELL Choir was founded in 1990 in Budapest by György Vashegyi for the performance of Purcell’s Baroque opera Dido & Aeneas. Few suspected at the time that the group was to become the most respected choir in Hungary fifteen years later. All the choir members are excellent professional singers, musicians and instrumentalists, and some of them are also members of other choirs and orchestras. The core repertoire of the Purcell Choir ranges from works by Gesualdo to Mozart, but they also perform pieces by later composers.
The choir’s regular partner in performances is ORFEO Orchestra which was founded in Budapest in 1991 also by György Vashegyi, receiving its name from Monteverdi’s L’Orfeo, following the first full performance of the opera in Hungary. The orchestra (since 1992 playing on period instruments) consists of professional musicians with international experience as either orchestra members or instrumental soloists.
The ensembles are the most authentic exponent of Early music (Baroque, Classical and Romantic) compositions in Hungary and has given many first performances on period instruments under the baton of György Vashegyi, since 1998 they have produced several world-premiere recordings for Hungaroton and other publishers from compositions of Charpentier, Geist, Michael Haydn, Istvánffy, Kraus, Lickl, Manna, Méhul, Tartini and Tunder. Since 2014, a close cooperation has been formed with the Center of Baroque music of Versailles, their first CD released together is the world-premiere recording of Jean-Philippe Rameau’s “ballet héroique”, “Les Fêtes de Polymnie” (published in January 2015 by Glossa). Continuing the collaboration, they published two more recordings: “Grand Motets” and “Isbé” by Mondonville, they recorded Ramuea’s opera: “Nais at Béla Bartók” National Concert Hall of Müpa in March 2017. Besides the famous singers’ outstanding performance, the criticists appreciated the ensembles’ musically shaped execution: the recordings released up to now have notable international successes, such as: “Diapason D’Or and Diapason Découverte”, “Diamant de l’Opéra” (Opéra Magazine, Paris), “Preis der deutchen Schallplattenkritik”.
The first concert master of Orfeo Orchestra is László Paulik, nevertheless Simon Standage – the world-famous Baroque violin player – has been often invited for solos and for leading the orchestra since 2009. In recent years, the Orfeo Orchestra and the Purcell Choir have been conducted by international renowned conductors such as Helmuth Rilling, René Jacobs, Philippe Herreweghe and Masaaki Suzuki.
The names of the ORFEO Orchestra and the PURCELL Choir have now become inseparably linked to their founder György Vashegyi, who can rightly be described as the outstanding exponent of classical and early music compositions and the person who has revitalized these works in Hungary.