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Orff: Carmina Burana
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List price: $16.98
Our price: $16.98
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Average customer rating: 3.5 out of 5
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Sales rank: 63547

Product Information

Media: Audio CD
ISBN/ASIN : B0006IRMXY
Manufacturer : EMI Classics
Release data : 25 January, 2005

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    1 star1 starNo starNo starNo star    Too much better competition for this one

    The good news is that the soloists are great and the playing is superb. But the bad news supersede the good ones.
    Nothing wrong with fast tempi, but this one is simply rushed. Based on Sir Rattles recordings, I think he is more marketing hype than a true great conductor. And his recent Mahler 8th simply proves the point.
    But the issue that frustrates me the most is not Sir Simon but EMI. Why is a company as important as this one still recording miserably after all these years? Carmina should be a sound blockbuster, but EMI refuses to improve the bass and give the ambience a broad span. Try a DECCA/London recording (from any year!) and you will hear what I mean. All these missed opportunities are mind boggling. Even small, independent companies (God bless them) have recorded better Carminas than this one.



    1 star1 star1 star1 star1 star    A sensual and cerebral production of crystal clarity

    Orff's "Carmina Burana" has provided the soundtrack for at least two highly successful advertising campaigns, and has featured in horror movies, comedies, science fiction, fantasy, and practically every form of drama and visual entertainment you could imagine. There is something about this work which gels with modern tastes; it can be adapted to underscore and choreograph a range of human emotions. The music - sexy, hedonistic, one moment exuberant and boisterous, the next intimate and conspiratorial - has become iconic.

    Based on medieval manuscripts discovered in 1803, these are the ribald poems of some not particularly chaste, German monks. They celebrate the earth, alcohol, and life, with more than a passing reference to sex. (There is a useful little booklet inserted into this CD which gives you the words - alternatively, several websites offer translations ... just type 'carmina burana' into your chosen search engine.) Carl Orff came across them in 1934, and, though he seems to have rapidly penned a number of arrangements, the first performance of his "Carmina Burana" was in Frankfurt, in 1937.

    Orff famously described his music as "total theatre". There is no doubt, the "Carmina Burana" is a dramatic, theatrical piece. As a concert performance, it has a visual appeal which few other musical works can emulate as both orchestra and choir become swept up in the spectacle from the very first "Oh Fortuna". Those opening words seize your attention ... and then you are led into the intimacy of the piece as the voices fade almost to silence. When you want people to listen to what you are saying, don't shout ... whisper. Orff is a master of this technique, soothing you into a calm and then taking your breath away.

    The musicians, too, conspire to surprise. At times barely audible, a mere heartbeat to invigorate the singers, a brief punctuation mark between lines of verse ... and suddenly you are hit with a full cannonade of sound which pins you back in your seat. This is not music for those with a nervous disposition. Nor is it music to be played quietly. If you have thin walls, wait until the neighbours are out.

    So how do Simon Rattle and the Berliner Philharmonic perform. Well, admirably. Here we have a conductor and an orchestra with both intelligence and presence. The articulation of the words and notes is crystal clear, the overall production surprisingly delicate ... you are reminded not simply of the clarity of crystal, but of its brittleness and tonal quality. This is the sound of glass not breaking. While you expect fireworks, Rattle offers a surprisingly cerebral performance which stands in marked contrast to some other versions. This is a vigorous piece of music played with grace. At times the words are not even whispered; they are insinuated into your consciousness, so intimate seems their articulation.

    Rattle and the Berliner create a reflective quality few others have offered. They oblige you to listen in the way a great film director obliges you to watch. You don't want to miss anything. Rattle's production, more than any other, has made me inquire into the words and follow them. Fortunately, I have not yet attempted to sing along. Possibly the key to the piece is the fact that, while a couple of the selected highlights of "Carmina Burana" have become famous thanks to adverts and cinema use, the overall work (approximately an hour in length) is a much more complex whole than its parts might suggest.

    Rattle will, of course, attract a lot of attention and this recording will be bought by many; he has respected his listeners by offering a very thoughtful account of Orff's work. It is a fine, rewarding production.

    For the enthusiast, amongst the many recordings of the "Carmina Burana", those by Eugen Jochum and Berlin Deutsche Oper Orchestra (ASIN: B000001GQP), Charles Dutoit and the Montreal Symphony Orchestra (ASIN: B0000042GQ), and Michel Plasson and the Toulouse Capitole Orchestra (ASIN: B000002RV5) have attracted particular praise over the years.


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