> ORFF Carmina Burana Runnicles [AT]: Classical Reviews- May2002 MusicWeb(UK)

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Carl ORFF (1895-1982)
Carmina Burana (1946)
Hei-Kyung Hong, soprano
Stanford Olsen, tenor
Earle Patriarco, baritone
Gwinnett Young Singers/Lynn Redmon
Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and Chorus/Donald Runnicles
Rec Symphony Hall, Woodruff Arts Center, Atlanta, Georgia, 4-5 November 2000
TELARC CD-80575 [59.42]


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Carmina Burana, despite its fascist adoration of the past and overbearing vulgarity, is one of the most popular works in the repertoire. For those not put off by its relentless tedium, there are dozens of recordings available, including the benchmark performance by Eugen Jochum. This version, excellently played and enthusiastically sung, can hold its own with most of them, but whether it is electric enough to be a first recommendation is debatable.

Donald Runnicles, a conductor who has an impressive list of appointments all over the world, except in his native Britain, directs intelligently, with natural tempi and a natural feeling for the sweep of the piece. The orchestral playing is excellent, in that American way of immaculate intonation and clear tone, but without the extra oomph that distinguishes the very best. The soloists likewise are impressive without being distinguished. Stanford Olsen is far from bad, but others negotiate the viciously high section of Olim lacus colueram better. Similarly the baritone Earle Patriarco is short of outstanding. The choral singing is vibrant throughout, and great play is made in the notes of the authentic 13th century pronunciation adopted. It seems to me however to be against the spirit of the work: in fascist art the past is not an artefact to be approached in an archaeological fashion, rather it is something to be recreated in its own time, with its own accent.

The recording is clear, although the balances sometimes sound a little artificial, like the percussion that predominates in the opening or the French horn that seems to rise to the surface whenever it has a solo. The deficiencies highlighted here should not give the impression that this recording is in any way bad or sub-standard it is easy to get much enjoyment from this performance but the competition in a crowded field is such that this version does not live with the very best.

Aidan Twomey


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