- Carmina Burana, scenic cantata for soloists, choruses & orchestra
The success of a performance of Carmina Burana often depends on qualities quite different from most classical music: sheer volume, for instance, and the force with which Orff's barbaric rhythms are felt in the listener's own body. Marin Alsop's new recording of the work meets these requirements but offers much else besides. One telling touch is the spacious resonance of the recording venue; it's a concert hall, yet the way the music hangs in the air makes it sound like a Gothic cathedral, enhancing the appeal of Orff's archaic medievalism. Naturally, that's especially evident in the big climaxes of the piece, nowhere more than in the familiar "O Fortuna" chorus that opens and closes the cycle. But Alsop and her musicians in the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra and Chorus make the music's contrasting, more delicate moments just as persuasive, revealing the transparency of Orff's careful orchestration in certain passages, especially the early stages of the "Court of Love" section. Of the three soloists, soprano Claire Rutter is a special standout, her pure tone a perfect fit for the lyrical sentiments of "Stetit puella" and "In trutina," while Markus Eiche bellows his way through the blustery baritone solos of "Ego sum abbas" and "Circa mea pectora" in a forceful style that's also totally appropriate to Orff's dynamic music. Alsop is clearly having a lot of fun as she leads her forces here -- another absolute requirement for a successful performance of Carmina Burana -- making this a highly satisfying option among the many recordings of this crowd-pleasing work.