Orff: Carmina Burana

Orff: Carmina Burana

by Simon Rattle
     
 

While their counterparts in Vienna consistently ring in the New Year with a festive program of Strauss waltzes, the Berlin Philharmonic prefer to vary the tune. On December 31, 2004, Simon Rattle marked the occasion by leading his orchestra in some quite different but equally popular music: Carl Orff's Carmina Burana, recorded liveSee more details below

Overview

While their counterparts in Vienna consistently ring in the New Year with a festive program of Strauss waltzes, the Berlin Philharmonic prefer to vary the tune. On December 31, 2004, Simon Rattle marked the occasion by leading his orchestra in some quite different but equally popular music: Carl Orff's Carmina Burana, recorded live for this CD release. A neo-primitivist setting of medieval monks' poetry might not seem an obvious choice for celebrating New Year's Eve, but upon reflection it makes perfect sense. The work's structure -- beginning and ending with an ode to the eternally circling wheel of fate (the famous chorus "O Fortuna") -- nicely mirrors the experience of looking back on the past year and forward to the new. Moreover, those medieval monks devoted a good deal of their poetry to the twin delights of love and ale, topics on the minds of many New Year's revelers by midnight. As Orff's chorus sings in "In Taberna": "The mistress drinks, the master drinks, the soldier drinks, the cleric drinks, this man drinks, that woman drinks..." and so on, ad infinitum -- a more primal take than that of Strauss' "Wine, Woman and Song." Finally, Carmina Burana makes a big, exciting, glorious amount of noise in the right hands, and it certainly does so here, with Rattle directing the combined choral and orchestral forces in a roof-rattling performance. The three vocal soloists all sing their parts with gusto, too, even if they don't quite measure up to the teams assembled on some competing discs: Christian Thielemann's recent recording, for example, or Eugen Jochum's classic version. What sets Rattle's offering apart is that Carmina Burana really benefits from the visceral thrills that can emerge in a live performance. Especially in those passages that burst with pure carnal energy, Orff's score has never sounded more potent than it does here.

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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Blair Sanderson
Despite being a live recording -- or, more accurately, one assembled from several concerts -- this 2005 CD of Carl Orff's "Carmina Burana" is almost as polished and well-produced as a studio recording. Sir Simon Rattle and the Berlin Philharmonic are incredibly tight and coordinated with the choirs and vocal soloists, and everything holds together quite well, without embarrassing mishaps, sloppy playing, or extraneous audience noises; obviously, using the best takes from several tapes prevents this. Even better, the performance really goes at a sprint; if anyone has ever felt that "Carmina" needed a good, swift kick to retain interest, then this galloping rendition ought to satisfy, at least in terms of tempi. However, the sound covers a wide dynamic range and it is often terribly soft and remote in the most subdued movements; yet the rousers have more than enough power to be heard, so a lot of experimentation with levels is required. The percussion is featured prominently in the big numbers -- Rattle takes great pains to emphasize Orff's spectacular writing for the section -- so the volume setting also depends on how well one appreciates (or tolerates) loud cymbal crashes and pugnacious drumming. So this fine recording is worth a hearing, though it is somewhat labor intensive for home listening.
Gramophone - Guy Rickards
Rattle may not be an abvious choice for this work but he directs a fascinating account, electrifyingly played and sung, that -- aided by some acutely balanced engineering -- casts a keen light on the over-familiar, catching perhaps a hint of what it might have been like to hear it new in the 1930s.
San Francisco Chronicle - Joshua Kosman
[Rattle] makes it a cracking good show, full of zest and flair. The overall sound is dry and crisp, which gives the performance a bustling, businesslike demeanor, and there are fine solo contributions from soprano Sally Matthews, tenor Lawrence Brownlee (duly anguished as the roasting swan) and baritone Christian Gerhaher. The choral singing is full voiced and precise.

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Product Details

Release Date:
01/25/2005
Label:
Warner Classics
UPC:
0724355788825
catalogNumber:
57888
Rank:
85517

Related Subjects

Tracks

  1. Carmina Burana, scenic cantata for soloists, choruses & orchestra  - Carl Orff  -  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra  -  Berlin Radio Chorus  - Simon Halsey  - William S. Mann  - Simon Rattle  -  Christian Gerhaher  - Sally Matthews  - Lawrence Brownlee  - Knaben des Staats- und Domchors Berlin

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