Notes and Editorial Reviews
This has deservedly achieved classic status. It’s fresh and youthful and in excellent sound.
I remember that there was quite a stir when this recording arrived more than 35 years ago. In those days my LP collection was still fairly modest and I generally fought shy of acquiring multiple versions of larger works. I had first bought the Herbert Kegel recording on a Heliodor budget LP almost a decade earlier. Incidentally it came my way for review a couple of years ago and I was surprised that it had stood the test of time fairly well. But my standard version soon became Eugen Jochum on DG, recorded under the supervision of the composer and thus, I imagined, as close to the origins as was imaginable. When in the eighties I
upgraded to CD, this was one of my earlier buys and I still regard it as the library version.
But the Previn tickled my curiosity and it was with great anticipation I opened the jewel box. I happened to listen through headphones on a portable CD player and the first tutti with the bass drum
fff was riveting. I replayed it later on my permanent equipment and it made the same strong impression. Sonically this recording is still marvellous. This is not to say that the Jochum is markedly inferior. It is a bit drier, which is not unbecoming with this particular work. Chorus and orchestra are outstanding – Arthur Oldham is the chorus-master – and there is vitality and rhythmic swagger throughout the performance – attributable, not least, to Previn’s background as jazz musician. Just listen to the dance that opens
Uf dem Anger (tr. 6). It’s certainly infectious. And another highlight is the swinging
Veni, veni, venias (tr. 20).
The boys’ choir sing like angels and in
In Taberna the male chorus is strong and virile. Among the soloists the young Thomas Allen is superb. A restrained and beautiful
Omnia Sol temperat (tr. 4) and a glorious
Estuans interius (tr. 11) are especially impressive. Gerald English is a pitiable swan and Sheila Armstrong sings the soprano part well, though she can’t quite challenge Gundula Janowitz on the Jochum recording. She manages the high-lying moments, in particular
Dulcissime, with less effort and serene beauty.
Previn’s recording has deservedly achieved classic status. It’s fresh and youthful and in excellent sound. Jochum is also superb and he has marginally even better soloists – Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau is marvellous even though Allen runs him close – and the imprimatur of the composer’s presence gives it special status. I think it is right to say that Jochum is more German whereas Previn, in spite of being born in Berlin, has a more international outlook. It’s a matter of tradition versus renovation. Even though there may be many readers who are fully satisfied with just one version of this modern masterpiece, I would suggest that they try this one as a complement.
-- Göran Forsling, MusicWeb International
Works on This Recording
Carmina burana by Carl Orff
Thomas Allen (Baritone),
Sheila Armstrong (Soprano),
Gerald English (Tenor)
London Symphony Orchestra,
London Symphony Chorus,
St Clement Danes School Choir
Period: 20th Century
Written: 1936; Germany
Date of Recording: 1974
Venue: Kingsway Hall, London
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