Orff: Carmina Burana

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5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

COMPOSERS: Orff
LABELS: DG
WORKS: Carmina Burana
PERFORMER: Christiane Oelze (soprano), David Kuebler (tenor), Simon Keenlyside (baritone); Deutsche Oper Berlin Chorus & Orchestra/Christiane Thielemann
CATALOGUE NO: 453 587-2
For those wary of the more raucous aspects of Orff’s scenic cantata in many of its recorded manifestations, this new account might provide the answer. With a discography currently focusing on the high-minded German repertoire of Beethoven, Wagner, Schumann, Strauss and Pfitzner, Christian Thielemann here shifts to what some see as music’s equivalent to the Munich Beer Festival. Though this might seem an odd move, his approach remains considered and his interpretative skills meticulous, his careful observation of accents, dynamics and other niceties whose presence one had scarcely expected in the piece paying rich dividends.

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Top quality soloists, too, with Simon Keenlyside’s baritonal interventions regularly things of wonder in terms of the sheer beauty and power of tone, and expressive of the text too. David Kuebler sounds exactly right in the strangulated tessitura Orff asks of his tenor to depict the roasted swan, and Christiane Oelze’s clear, true tone and unaffected delivery enhances the soprano music.

Precision and rich sonority mark the playing of the Orchestra of Berlin’s Deutsche Oper, and if the singing of the company’s chorus is a good deal more polite than one sometimes hears in the work it’s a fault on the right side. Full and resonant sound, with plenty of perspective.

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Of a vast number of alternatives, André Previn’s combination of musicianship and showmanship with soloists Sheila Armstrong, Gerald English, Thomas Allen and the LSO remains invigorating. George Hall