There are plenty of good things in this new Carmina. Top-flight percussion playing, for one: in ‘Fortune piango vulnera’ it’s executed with sniper-like accuracy.
Hans Graf’s tempos are also excellent – he draws a wider range of moods and colouration from this piece than most conductors. His contribution to baritone Rodion Pogossov’s ruminative ‘Omnia sol temperat’ shows exemplary sensitivity.
The choral passages are intelligently prepared and sung, with the sopranos memorably elegant in ‘Floret silva’. Despite the tangible sense of spring-like efflorescence, there’s plenty of stamina left over for a rapturous ‘Ave formosissima’.
Andrew Kennedy’s roasted swan is one of the best you’ll find – he sings with feeling, and the orchestral support is expressive, as it is in Pogossov’s muscular ‘Ego sum abbas’. Soprano Sarah Tynan sounds a little strained in ‘Stetit puella’ and the stratospheric ‘Dulcissime’.
The performance is live, and some of its impact is muffled by the dry Royal Festival Hall acoustic which lacks plenitude and resonance. There are flashier, more sumptuous Carminas on the market, but this one nonetheless scores impressively on musical values, and pure listening enjoyment.