Author Topic: Carmina Burana by Carl Orff  (Read 37846 times)

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Online André

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Re: Carmina Burana by Carl Orff
« Reply #120 on: August 14, 2021, 03:18:30 PM »
Moving right along, here’s another cover for the Frühbeck version I listened to today:



My copy is one bizarrely coupled with A Night on the Bare Mountain - not even by Frühbeck, but by Sawallisch  ???.

As is often the case with this work the first thing one notices is the sound. Scored for full orchestra with a very expanded percussion section, full chorus, children’s chorus and soloists, no two versions will sound the same. Somewhere near the one minute mark in the opening number Ô fortuna, one’s marks fall into place and the ear adjusts to the performers/engineers’ chosen balances. In this case the percussion is given due prominence (Ormandy-Sony were way too discrete here), with a good presence afforded to the tam tam (D. Hurwitz loves this version). Also, reasonable clarity is achieved most of the time in this 55 year old recording.

One drawback though is that the recording is bass-shy and the upper frequencies tend to fizz when the massed forces give their all. And that they do, as this is a very committed performance from both orchestra and chorus. Frühbeck is not shy to underline individual orchestral lines - flute, oboe, trombone, etc. That kind of extra presence compensates for the occasional lack of definition.

Frühbeck was born in Spain of German parents (couldn’t find from where) and he studied conducting in Munich in the mid-late fifties, where I imagine he must have come to know the piece firsthand. He performed it throughout his life right up to his death in 2014. His affection for the work really shows in that recording. The soloists are good (the two baritones sharing duties), very good (tenor Gerhard Unger) and remarkable (Lucia Popp’s creamy high lyric soprano) respectively. Unger’s roasted swan song is beautifully sung but his swan seems resigned rather than terrified. Excellent, but ultimately no cigar. Popp’s Dulcissime is fantastic. The aria starts with a bang, a giant leap up to high D followed by melismatic vocalizations in alt. Many sopranos hit the high D, then fudge the coloratura that follows. Not Popp, who vocalizes beautifully, articulating each note clearly.

I wish EMI would clean up and remaster the tapes using the latest technology. Not sure it’s possible though. I’ve read that that slight distortion was inherent to the original recording, just like the Verdi Requiem under Giulini they issued a year or two before that one. Still, this is a version that has more ‘face’ than most of the competition. I’m keeping it.  :)

Offline Tsaraslondon

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Re: Carmina Burana by Carl Orff
« Reply #121 on: August 15, 2021, 12:13:49 AM »
Yep, a rather weird event in the medieval French court. I read about it after visiting a fantastic bookstore in Lyon that took its name from it.





One of those truly great bookstores you can still find scattered around France (like Ombres Blanches in Toulouse —known to André IIRC—, Kléber in Strasbourg, Gallimard in Paris, etc.).

Oh, wow, this place looks amazing.

One of my favourite places in London is Daunt Books in Marylebone Road.





I take pleasure in knowing that such places still exist.
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Offline Tsaraslondon

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Re: Carmina Burana by Carl Orff
« Reply #122 on: August 15, 2021, 12:20:29 AM »
Moving right along, here’s another cover for the Frühbeck version I listened to today:



My copy is one bizarrely coupled with A Night on the Bare Mountain - not even by Frühbeck, but by Sawallisch  ???.

As is often the case with this work the first thing one notices is the sound. Scored for full orchestra with a very expanded percussion section, full chorus, children’s chorus and soloists, no two versions will sound the same. Somewhere near the one minute mark in the opening number Ô fortuna, one’s marks fall into place and the ear adjusts to the performers/engineers’ chosen balances. In this case the percussion is given due prominence (Ormandy-Sony were way too discrete here), with a good presence afforded to the tam tam (D. Hurwitz loves this version). Also, reasonable clarity is achieved most of the time in this 55 year old recording.

One drawback though is that the recording is bass-shy and the upper frequencies tend to fizz when the massed forces give their all. And that they do, as this is a very committed performance from both orchestra and chorus. Frühbeck is not shy to underline individual orchestral lines - flute, oboe, trombone, etc. That kind of extra presence compensates for the occasional lack of definition.

Frühbeck was born in Spain of German parents (couldn’t find from where) and he studied conducting in Munich in the mid-late fifties, where I imagine he must have come to know the piece firsthand. He performed it throughout his life right up to his death in 2014. His affection for the work really shows in that recording. The soloists are good (the two baritones sharing duties), very good (tenor Gerhard Unger) and remarkable (Lucia Popp’s creamy high lyric soprano) respectively. Unger’s roasted swan song is beautifully sung but his swan seems resigned rather than terrified. Excellent, but ultimately no cigar. Popp’s Dulcissime is fantastic. The aria starts with a bang, a giant leap up to high D followed by melismatic vocalizations in alt. Many sopranos hit the high D, then fudge the coloratura that follows. Not Popp, who vocalizes beautifully, articulating each note clearly.

I wish EMI would clean up and remaster the tapes using the latest technology. Not sure it’s possible though. I’ve read that that slight distortion was inherent to the original recording, just like the Verdi Requiem under Giulini they issued a year or two before that one. Still, this is a version that has more ‘face’ than most of the competition. I’m keeping it.  :)

I remember when I first bought the piece on CD, I taaok the advice of the Penguin Guide and went for the Previn, but it just lacked the excitement and thrill of this recording for me, and Sheila Armstrong is good, but she's no Lucia Popp! Ultimately I replaced it with the Frühbeck. I know that we often tend to prefer recordings we had when we first got to know a piece, but it's good to har that  it's still appreciated.
« Last Edit: August 15, 2021, 12:22:10 AM by Tsaraslondon »
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Online Roasted Swan

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Re: Carmina Burana by Carl Orff
« Reply #123 on: August 15, 2021, 01:14:12 AM »
No mention yet for Muti - the most exciting version I know by some way.  Stunning orchestral work, Arleen Auger just gorgeous and a swaggering Baritone Bisop from Johnathan Summers.  Lucia Popp is imperious in Orff (check out Die Kluge and Der Mond) but Auger runs her close


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Re: Carmina Burana by Carl Orff
« Reply #124 on: August 15, 2021, 04:22:15 AM »
Oh, wow, this place looks amazing.

One of my favourite places in London is Daunt Books in Marylebone Road.





I take pleasure in knowing that such places still exist.
I walked into it by chance a couple of years ago, lovely place indeed. It’s such a pity that Foyles is but a shadow of what it was some 25 years ago… :(

Apologies for remaining off-topic  :-[
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Online André

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Re: Carmina Burana by Carl Orff
« Reply #125 on: August 16, 2021, 02:30:10 PM »


Muti conducts a strong, colourful performance. The initial chords register forcefully, with a big contribution from the percussion section, notably the tam tam, the 2 pianos and the bass drum. There are some inconsistencies though: while soft tam tam strokes are clearly heard at ‘nunc obdurat et tunc curat’ in the first stanza of O Fortuna, they are inaudible in the second stanza at ‘obumbrata et velata’ (Frühbeck is very good there). Also, Muti exaggerates the slow tempos and the soft dynamics in the dreamy parts - words become inaudible.

My main criticism though is about the Latin pronunciation. Muti chooses to have the consonants done as the Italians do, which is quite different from the German way. Why ?? CB is the most famous vocal work to come out of Germany in the XXth century. AFAIK this must be the only major recording that flaunts tradition (and common sense) in that regard. ‘Semper crescis’ becomes semper crestchis instead of semper crestsis,  ‘egestatem’ becomes edjestatem instead of eggestatem (a hard g as in egg) and so on. No big deal, but considering the dozens of occurences (and their repetitions) this becomes annoying.

The soloists are mostly excellent, with a truly adorable prestation from Arleen Auger - and not just in Dulcissime. Her breath control is phenomenal. Tenor John van Kesteren is said to have been Orff’s favourite tenor in the part and sang it many times. However at that point in his career (he was pushing 60) I fear he was no longer up to his demanding part in the roasted song swan. He is not supposed to sound comfortable in the highest reaches of his solo (who likes to be roasted on a fire ?) but it’s been done better and more convincingly by others like Gerhard Unger or the sensational Louis Devos. Baritone Jonathan Summers is entirely reliable throughout.

Overall this is an exciting, fiery performance that occasionally overplays (or underplays) its hand - sign of a sense of adventure and involvement from the conductor. Better this than underinterpreting or mere efficiency.

Online André

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Re: Carmina Burana by Carl Orff
« Reply #126 on: August 18, 2021, 04:00:09 PM »


I bought this on LP when it came out, so this is the version I got to know first. The work eventually fell out of favour and it took a while before I returned to this version (on cd) some 10 years ago. Despite a few quirks I consider it one of the best both musically and technically. The chorus is very good, all three soloists sing superbly and Tilson Thomas conducts with punch, flair for the drama and youthful enthusiasm.

The only galling issue is the pronunciation of the latin text. There are quite different ways to pronounce the consonants. I don’t much care if it’s done the german way or the italian way, but to have a reading where both coexist jars somewhat. The english tenor, american soprano and chorus pronounce like the Germans do, while the german baritone does it all’italiana  ???.  On top of that the children have yet another way to pronounce it: the yankee way ! Quite the melting pot. But since they are all very musical and hugely committed, I’ll take that over many other versions any day.

Originally recorded in quadraphonic sound with an elaborate spatial set up, it sounds splendid to me in a normal stereophonic setting. The percussion in the opening chorus did make me sit up straight right from the beginning !

Offline Jo498

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Re: Carmina Burana by Carl Orff
« Reply #127 on: August 18, 2021, 11:15:09 PM »
I wonder how Latin was pronounced in 13th-14th century Europe. Certainly there were already local differences but it must have been sufficiently intelligible between Denmark and France to serve as lingua franca.
As for singing, I think the main reason is that the Germanized pronunciation is overall not as common as the italianate and partly more difficult to pronounce (e.g. "eks-tselsis"). However, it should not differ within a performance and the middle High German is probably more of a pronunciation challenge anyway. (One of my faves are the bilingual passages like "wer sol mich minnen - Quis me amabit?")
This was not uncommon, there are still a few well known German Xmas Carols going back to the high/late middle ages that probably started in Latin and then became mixed. (The most famous one is "In dulci jubilo - nun singet und seid froh".)
Struck by the sounds before the sun,
I knew the night had gone.
The morning breeze like a bugle blew
Against the drums of dawn.
(Bob Dylan)

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Re: Carmina Burana by Carl Orff
« Reply #128 on: August 19, 2021, 12:19:11 AM »


I bought this on LP when it came out, so this is the version I got to know first. The work eventually fell out of favour and it took a while before I returned to this version (on cd) some 10 years ago. Despite a few quirks I consider it one of the best both musically and technically. The chorus is very good, all three soloists sing superbly and Tilson Thomas conducts with punch, flair for the drama and youthful enthusiasm.

The only galling issue is the pronunciation of the latin text. There are quite different ways to pronounce the consonants. I don’t much care if it’s done the german way or the italian way, but to have a reading where both coexist jars somewhat. The english tenor, american soprano and chorus pronounce like the Germans do, while the german baritone does it all’italiana  ???.  On top of that the children have yet another way to pronounce it: the yankee way ! Quite the melting pot. But since they are all very musical and hugely committed, I’ll take that over many other versions any day.

Originally recorded in quadraphonic sound with an elaborate spatial set up, it sounds splendid to me in a normal stereophonic setting. The percussion in the opening chorus did make me sit up straight right from the beginning !

This recording in its original quadrophonic set-up is one of the releases that Dutton have remastered.



I have it in this format - although my SACD set-up is (sadly) just standard stereo.  The couplings have to be about as eclectic (or weird!) as they come - with Gershwin and Beethoven choral works the 2-disc companions!  The liner is a reprint of the original LP so is interesting regarding how the project was set up recorded.  I can't share your enthusaism for the actual performance which is good but not exceptional and I do find the style of the engineering intrusive.

Thankyou for your information about the italianate pronunciation on the Muti recording - something I was blissfully unaware of.  But for me the key is your final comment where the engagement with the performance trumps wayward linguistics!  By that latter measure so many famous vocal/choral/operatic recordings would be in the rubbish bin of history [that said I can't listen to the Russian/Rohzdestvensky recording of the Sea Symphony for its mangled English...]
« Last Edit: August 28, 2021, 10:57:51 AM by Que »

Offline Biffo

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Re: Carmina Burana by Carl Orff
« Reply #129 on: August 19, 2021, 12:24:59 AM »
What people are calling 'Italianate' is the way I was taught to pronounce Latin when we were learning to recite the Mass all those years ago here in England. We were instructed by an Irish nun. I only heard the 'German' version many years later when I started to collect LPs.

Offline Jo498

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Re: Carmina Burana by Carl Orff
« Reply #130 on: August 19, 2021, 12:56:39 AM »
I also first encountered the italianate Latin on records ;) and found it rather strange at first.
In school teachers either used the Germanized Latin (vowels more closed, v like in German, c before bright vowels as "ts" etc.) or a mix between Germanized and some approximation of Classical Latin (correct "hard" "c" always like "k"). I do not recall any teacher trying the reconstruction of Classical Latin that seems to be more common among a younger generation (i.e. about my age, born in the 1970s or later) of Latin scholars and teachers (e.g. u and v like w in English, vowels more open than in German, proper lengths etc.).
Struck by the sounds before the sun,
I knew the night had gone.
The morning breeze like a bugle blew
Against the drums of dawn.
(Bob Dylan)

Offline Biffo

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Re: Carmina Burana by Carl Orff
« Reply #131 on: August 19, 2021, 01:45:11 AM »
I also first encountered the italianate Latin on records ;) and found it rather strange at first.
In school teachers either used the Germanized Latin (vowels more closed, v like in German, c before bright vowels as "ts" etc.) or a mix between Germanized and some approximation of Classical Latin (correct "hard" "c" always like "k"). I do not recall any teacher trying the reconstruction of Classical Latin that seems to be more common among a younger generation (i.e. about my age, born in the 1970s or later) of Latin scholars and teachers (e.g. u and v like w in English, vowels more open than in German, proper lengths etc.).

When I studied Latin as a language we used a pronunciation that I later found out was known as 'neo-classical Latin'. This had the hard 'c' (like 'k') and 'v' pronounced like the English 'w'. Caesar was pronounced 'Kaisar', almost the same as in German. I vaguely remember reading that neo-classical Latin pronunciation was based on German though I have never followed this up so don't know why.

Offline Jo498

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Re: Carmina Burana by Carl Orff
« Reply #132 on: August 19, 2021, 02:18:17 AM »
No, I think the classical approximation is pretty good and has nothing to do with German, maybe some German scholars came up with it first? But it is not that difficult, one just has to look into some 1st century Greek sources etc. or look at mistakes and some other things to get most of the pronunciation.

The "traditional" church and school pronunciation of Latin in German (and this must stem from the late middle ages) was with c = ts before i,e, ae, with "ti" also tending to become "tsi". They would tell you that "Kaiser" came from Caesar (so in late antiquity or early middle ages the "c" must still have been hard and the "ae" more like "ai")  but the latter would still be pronounced "Tseh-sar".
In any case, I think it can be safely assumed that Orff in the 1930s would have expected the Germanized pronunciation, regardless of how people spoke in 1300 when they first sang the original Carmina Burana.
Struck by the sounds before the sun,
I knew the night had gone.
The morning breeze like a bugle blew
Against the drums of dawn.
(Bob Dylan)

Online André

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Re: Carmina Burana by Carl Orff
« Reply #133 on: August 19, 2021, 06:11:42 AM »
No, I think the classical approximation is pretty good and has nothing to do with German, maybe some German scholars came up with it first? But it is not that difficult, one just has to look into some 1st century Greek sources etc. or look at mistakes and some other things to get most of the pronunciation.

The "traditional" church and school pronunciation of Latin in German (and this must stem from the late middle ages) was with c = ts before i,e, ae, with "ti" also tending to become "tsi". They would tell you that "Kaiser" came from Caesar (so in late antiquity or early middle ages the "c" must still have been hard and the "ae" more like "ai")  but the latter would still be pronounced "Tseh-sar".
In any case, I think it can be safely assumed that Orff in the 1930s would have expected the Germanized pronunciation, regardless of how people spoke in 1300 when they first sang the original Carmina Burana.

Exactly. That’s why the ‘correct’ latin pronunciation for that work must be that currently used in Germany - or at least Bavaria. However, old habits die hard and I can understand why some productions do it with the italianate pronunciation -  referred to occasionally as ‘ecclesiastical Latin’. Also, CB is a highly rythm-based work, with a propulsive, sometimes motoric way to them (all these tongue twisting ‘bibit’ lines!).

Try pronouncing these lines:

Ludo mentis aciem,
Egestatem,
Potestatem
Dissolvit ut glaciem.

The german way has a hard g, while the c is a ‘ts’ : you get ‘atsiem’ and ‘glatsiem’, and ‘eggestatem’ (as in egg). If you do it in italianate Latin, you  have ‘dj’ in ‘edjestatem’ and ‘tch’ in ‘atchiem’ and ‘glatchiem’. Now, which pronunciation allows for the most rythmically incisive enunciation ? That is the essence of the debate.

The story of the MTT production, as narrated by producer Andrew Kazdin in the booklet, has it that baritone Peter Binder was ‘flown to Cleveland directly from his home in Darmstadt’. Now, that begs the question: what happened then? My hunch is that Binder came in, sang his numbers in what he assumed would be the pronunciation everyone would use (because german Latin is pronounced that way only in Germany and he must have assumed the ‘standard’ latin pronunciation would be used in a production made in the USA), then returned home, leaving the project continue without him. He may even have sung in his own booth, away from the chorus. The recording sessions were unusually complex to set logistically (each number had its own seating arrangement and microphone placement). Cleveland Chorus Director Robert Page was at the helm and throughout the chorus sing the german way. That's the only explanation I can think of why the German baritone would sing in ecclesiastical Latin. Anyhow, it’s just a matter of detail. It’s the discrepancy that is curious, not the choice of one vs the other.


Offline Holden

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Re: Carmina Burana by Carl Orff
« Reply #134 on: August 19, 2021, 01:27:01 PM »
Exactly. That’s why the ‘correct’ latin pronunciation for that work must be that currently used in Germany - or at least Bavaria. However, old habits die hard and I can understand why some productions do it with the italianate pronunciation -  referred to occasionally as ‘ecclesiastical Latin’. Also, CB is a highly rythm-based work, with a propulsive, sometimes motoric way to them (all these tongue twisting ‘bibit’ lines!).

Try pronouncing these lines:

Ludo mentis aciem,
Egestatem,
Potestatem
Dissolvit ut glaciem.

The german way has a hard g, while the c is a ‘ts’ : you get ‘atsiem’ and ‘glatsiem’, and ‘eggestatem’ (as in egg). If you do it in italianate Latin, you  have ‘dj’ in ‘edjestatem’ and ‘tch’ in ‘atchiem’ and ‘glatchiem’. Now, which pronunciation allows for the most rythmically incisive enunciation ? That is the essence of the debate.

The story of the MTT production, as narrated by producer Andrew Kazdin in the booklet, has it that baritone Peter Binder was ‘flown to Cleveland directly from his home in Darmstadt’. Now, that begs the question: what happened then? My hunch is that Binder came in, sang his numbers in what he assumed would be the pronunciation everyone would use (because german Latin is pronounced that way only in Germany and he must have assumed the ‘standard’ latin pronunciation would be used in a production made in the USA), then returned home, leaving the project continue without him. He may even have sung in his own booth, away from the chorus. The recording sessions were unusually complex to set logistically (each number had its own seating arrangement and microphone placement). Cleveland Chorus Director Robert Page was at the helm and throughout the chorus sing the german way. That's the only explanation I can think of why the German baritone would sing in ecclesiastical Latin. Anyhow, it’s just a matter of detail. It’s the discrepancy that is curious, not the choice of one vs the other.

There's even more to this looking at those three phrases and taking the German latin pronunciation into account

mentis is menteess

Dissolvit is deesolfeet

One thing you can say about the first Previn (EMI) is that they got this spot on.

Another pronounciation conumdrum is the letter 'c' all appearing in 'Dies nox et omnia' and all pronounced differently.

contraria
scitis
facies

in 'michi' the c is silent yet it's pronounced four lines later in 'pulchra'.



EDIT:

The Latin I learnt at school was the Germanic and I have no idea if other schools in the area used this or the  Italianate.

The strong case for using the Germanic pronounciation comes in 'Floret silva nobilis'. Towards the end of the verse, Latin gives way to a form of High German so the pronounciation of the 'g's, 'j's and 'ch's (in particular) remain the same. It reverts back to Latin in "Estuans interius".

When I first heard Carmina Burana (at Uni, I got to sing it) it immediately took me back to high school and three years conjugating verbs in four endings. If that wasn't hard enough there were declensions, ablative and genitive cases to learn. I couldn't wait to drop it but to stay in what you would call the 'extension' class for all other subjects I had no choice but to take it.

The one thing I vividly remember was this little poem which I'm sure will be familiar to some of you.

Latin is a dead language
As dead as dead can be
It killed the ancient Romans
And now it's killing me.



« Last Edit: August 19, 2021, 02:36:48 PM by Holden »
Cheers

Holden

Online André

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Re: Carmina Burana by Carl Orff
« Reply #135 on: August 24, 2021, 10:29:59 AM »



The Sawallisch need not detain us long. Although it has some historic significance and is not without insights, its age (1956 mono recording) precludes a general recommendation. The pluses include the directness and vigour of the conducting, an excellent soprano and very good tenor, and a real sense of a home team doing what they do best. Except that that best has been bettered in parts or in full quite a few times since. The disc ends with a thank you speech by Orff to all concerned. The composer was obviously pleased.

The Kegel is one of the top 5, even top 3 versions. Everything in it bespeaks authenticity, authority and overall excellence. There is simply nothing to take away from that stellar performance, not least from the awesome chorus. Kegel conducts a version where the flashy crash bang wallop ( ;)) parts of the orchestration are played strictly as they should be - unemphasized by either conductor, players or the sound engineers. What we get instead is a whole level of low dynamics that make the listener sit up and his ears perk up. The articulation of the motoric rythms by the chorus singing p or pp is phenomenal. All three soloists are excellent. Soprano Celestina Casapietra’s In trutina is more womanly than girlish, her tone creamy and pure yet rounded and without any acidity - sexy and alluring. Her Dulcissime flies up on a silky thread of tone totally different from Gruberova’s lusty vocal orgasm (with Ozawa on Philips). Even the 1974 sound is of the best: clear, deep, ample and warm. This one’s a classic.


Offline Jo498

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Re: Carmina Burana by Carl Orff
« Reply #136 on: August 24, 2021, 10:43:06 AM »
There is an earlier Kegel from 1960 (I think without the other two pieces) with differen soloists that some people also like. I am never sure which one is referred to if Kegel is recommended.
Struck by the sounds before the sun,
I knew the night had gone.
The morning breeze like a bugle blew
Against the drums of dawn.
(Bob Dylan)

Online André

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Re: Carmina Burana by Carl Orff
« Reply #137 on: August 24, 2021, 11:10:51 AM »
Good point. I haven’t heard the earlier one. While not impossible to find, it is harder to come by than his second version. Also, I doubt very much that the sonics hold up to the newer one.

David Hurwitz recommends that 1974 Kegel without mentioning the 1960 one. I just watched his video and he rightly mentions that it’s not the most percussive version, but praises the chorus’ phenomenal singing and overall excellence.

Online André

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Re: Carmina Burana by Carl Orff
« Reply #138 on: August 28, 2021, 10:49:40 AM »


The first ever (?) recording of CB, recorded by the Bavarian Radio in 1952. The sound shows its age. It is satisfyingly full but there is some confusion in the big choral numbers. Jochum conducts with a sure hand and the bavarian forces are with him all the way. The chorus however was made up of wobblers (the ladies in particular) and the orchestra was not yet the powerhouse it would become a couple of decades later. Also, there are slightly too long pauses between some of the movements (not all) which disrupts the natural flow of the music. This may seem petty, but part of CB’s effect depends on that continuous musical lava flow carrying all before it. Careless editing (the Daniel Harding DG release for example) can turn listening into an irritating game of stop and go. That is not so pronounced here, but disconcerting all the same.

Offline JBS

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Re: Carmina Burana by Carl Orff
« Reply #139 on: August 28, 2021, 06:06:22 PM »
Just to clarify: that would be this recording?

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