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Notes and Editorial Reviews
Having already provided distinguished Decca recordings of the symphonies of Nielsen and Sibelius, Herbert Blomstedt and his San Francisco orchestra now turn to Orff's sexily hedonistic cantata with comparable success. I have a very soft spot for Previn's oft-praised 1975 EMI recording, a swaggeringly genial account, with a wonderfully spirited contribution from the youthful trebles who obviously relish the sentient imagery, Ozawa's Boston digital version on Philips also offers much to stimulate, but Blomstedt is impressively powerful and imaginatively volatile and has three fine West Coast choral groups and an outstanding trio of soloists. Lynne Dawson's portrayal of "There stood a girl in a red tunic" is delightfully fresh and
simple—it has an engaging innocence and naturalness; yet her moment of submission at the end of the "Cours d'amours" sequence is ravishingly compliant, the soaringly open tone conveying a lack of inhibition, and the vocal control quite firm. It leads splendidly into the exhilarating choral celebration of passion, "Oh! Oh! Oh! I am bursting out all over!" (which both Previn and Ozawa also present very infectiously).
Memorable, too, is the tenor, John Daniecki's striking assumption of the role of the roasted swan. It is almost as if there were two singers. He colours his voice quite differently in the first verse (when the poor creature reminisces), and makes the vibrant change at the moment of being turned on the spit to be served up on a plate. (It's enough to make vegetarians of us all!) The baritone, Kevin McMillan, is a splendid Abbot, richly unctuous, then bemoaning his fate histrionically at the close. His later solo (track 18) is full of lustful yearning, and urged on by the spontaneous enthusiasm of the chorus one feels his proposed seduction cannot fail.
At the very opening the spectacular concert-hall balance of the Decca recording, with the orchestral percussion telling splendidly, immediately grips the listener. And the sotto voce passage which follows shows that Blomstedt is seeking to maximize contrasts, while later there are countless instances of his fine ear for detail. Yet there are plentiful explosions of passionate energy throughout, both vocal and instrumental. The sparkling orchestral dance (track 6) sets the scene admirably for the charming choral celebration of the burgeoning of spring, where the gently sustained soprano line is beautifully supple and lyrically sensuous. Later, in the tavern scene, the male chorus (well laced with percussion) are joyously ebullient, and when they catalogue the long list of drinkers present, Blomstedt's accelerando brings the most excitingly precise articulation against lifted rhythms. The great "Ave, formosissima" at the close has never sounded more grand and spacious. Here the Decca sound is wonderfully rich, punctuated with superb (though not exaggerated) thwacks on the bass drum.
This is the finest digital recording yet of Orff's splendid celebration of the joys of the springtime fecundity, with more than a little help from the grape harvest of previous years.
-- Gramophone [12/1991]
Works on This Recording
Carmina burana by Carl Orff
Lynne Dawson (Soprano),
John Daniecki (Tenor),
Kevin McMillan (Baritone)
San Francisco Symphony Orchestra,
San Francisco Symphony Chorus,
San Francisco Girls Chorus
Period: 20th Century
Written: 1936; Germany
Carmina Burana - Fortuna Imperatrix Mundi: "O Fortuna"
Carmina Burana - Fortuna Imperatrix Mundi: "O Fortuna"
Carmina Burana - Fortuna Imperatrix Mundi: "Fortune plango vulnera"
Carmina Burana - 1. Primo vere: "Veris leta facies"
Carmina Burana - 1. Primo vere: "Omnia Sol temperat"
Carmina Burana - 1. Primo vere: "Ecce gratum"
Carmina Burana - Uf dem Anger: Dance
Carmina Burana - Uf dem Anger: "Floret silva nobilis"
Carmina Burana - Uf dem Anger: "Chramer, gip die varwe mir"
Carmina Burana - Uf dem Anger: "Swaz hie gat umbe" - "Chume, chum geselle min"
Carmina Burana - Uf dem Anger: "Were diu werlt alle min"
Carmina Burana - 2. In Taberna: "Estuans interius"
Carmina Burana - 2. In Taberna: "Olim lacus colueram"
Carmina Burana - 2. In Taberna: "Ego sum abbas"
Carmina Burana - 2. In Taberna: "In taberna quando sumus"
Carmina Burana - 3. Cour d'amours: "Amor volat undique"
Carmina Burana - 3. Cour d'amours: "Dies, nox et omnia"
Carmina Burana - 3. Cour d'amours: "Stetit puella"
Carmina Burana - 3. Cour d'amours: "Circa mea pectora"
Carmina Burana - 3. Cour d'amours: "Si puer cum puellula"
Carmina Burana - 3. Cour d'amours: "Veni, veni, venias"
Carmina Burana - 3. Cour d'amours: "In trutina"
Carmina Burana - 3. Cour d'amours: "Tempus est iocundum"
Carmina Burana - 3. Cour d'amours: "Dulcissime"
Carmina Burana - Blanziflor et Helena: "Ave formosissima"
Average Customer Review: ( 2 Customer Reviews )
A Typical Top Rate Product From San Fran and Herb September 6, 2014
By Tony Engleton See All My Reviews
"09-05-2014 Just as sure as the fact that God made the state of Indiana, Herbert Blomstedt has given us yet another fine reading of a late romantic powerhouse, the scenic Cantata by Carl Orff, "Carmina Burana." Maestro's Blomstedt's talent of unearthing talent from obscure places is proven here with the soloists Lynn Dawson, soprano, tenor John Daniecki and baritone Kevin McMillan. the San Francisco Sym. chorus is joined by the S.F. Boys and Girls, spate entities and the absolutely wonderful S.F.Sym. Chorus under the direction of Vance George. Recorded in Davies Hall in May 1990, this sonic spectacle runs a svelte 58:10, but, naturally, never feels or sounds hurried. Tempi are various, and fit like a glove. Blomstedt and his former orchestra are right at home in this repertoire, as his annual Spring/early Summer annual visits were always our favorite time when my wife, Thelma, and I lived in San Jose for the 1990's, my first decade in the Radiology profession. Along with a surprisingly good San Jose orchestra, HB's two-three week visits brought us Bruckner, Brahms, Mahler and Mozart, Beethoven and other standard repertoire pieces. A refreshing and welcome break from the droll schedule of the immensely restrictive and stunningly over-rated offerings of their current MD, Michael Tilson Thomas. If you like Gershwin, Copland and Stravinsky, you'll love this kind of conductor, often merely beating time, and seldom out in front of the notes, and rather than shaping them with subtle left hand instructions, he often appeared just reacting to them. Hell, I could do that! Admittedly, his Mahler cycle has some very fine material, but it is chiefly due to the terrific orchestra, currently on the cusp of joining the American "Big Five," of Chicago, Boston, Philly, New York and Cleveland. Their exquisite strings and winds are complemented by a brass section that frequently rivals even our beloved home-town Chicago Symphony. The background to Carmina is, of course, well known and interesting and a brief summary is on order. Orff stumbled upon the text and general nature of the mostly 10th and 11th centuries poems found in a monastery in Burien, Germany, originally discovered in the early 19th Century and it was first produced for the stage in Frankfurt on June , 1937. Orff had composed the music in 1935/36. There are 24 poems in the collections and 25 individual segments, ranging for large choral/orchestral pieces to solo vocal scenes. ALSO, Orff wrote some purely instrumental sections, generally short and used primarily as transitions. For the best example, give a listen to track #10 , a short little firecracker of only 53 seconds for chorus and forte orchestra and hang on to your hats!---WOW!!!! What precision, rhythm and exactness! I haven't heard such crispness and sharpened focus since the best of Reiner. The sections for the baritone have had better treatments in previous recordings, and for me, Fischer-Diskeau's contributions in the 1965 Jochum classic, personally over-seen by the composer, is the best. Of course, who really can compete with the great D.F.D.? For my money he stands alone. However, Mr. McMillan's defiantly swaggering and ego-drenched "Ego sum abbas," is pointed, sharp and searing. In general, this Blomstedt reading contains some of the better "In the Tavern" numbers, each filled with all the foam of a frothy mug of ale has, with swaying, inebriated delirium and a sense of camaraderie usually not found in a monastery, unless, of course, the monks had a "night-out". Sometimes, simple piety just isn't enough! L.O.L. Lest I forget, the children's vocal contributions are many and quite well performed with joy, energy and precision. Track #18 stars the kids with a smaller role for our baritone and plenty of that neat SF percussion, light, crisp and clean. Blomstedt's sense of youthful wonder is captivating and convincing. But, for pure rapture, take heed of Lynn Dawson's shatteringly heart wrenching 'In trutina' as much of a love-song as one is likely to hear from a classical composer, almost like one of those great 1950's dreamy love-ballads we all used to smooch by, L.O.L. Seriously, however, Dawson will take your breathe away. track #22 is one of the best and really tops off the entire work, even better than the final "O Fortuna" reprise in tracks 24/25. Here in #22, we have the resources of the Chorus/orchestra, Boys Choir and Mr. McMillan, in a mini scene of 2:52 that, happily, seems longer. I loved the S.F. castanets and other "pots and pans' in the orchestra's rear lending sparkle to the festivities. The "O Fortuna" reprise in the last tracks carries the appropriate "chorale" nature to it, stately and gran to a fault it is the jewel that crowns this splendid recording, and just when I thought Blomstedt might be holding the final glorious chord with the full instrumental/vocal resources, he drops the baton that assuredly results in the Davies audience's eruption of applause, whistles and bravos, and all richly deserved. A sensational reading, beautifully played and sung and all in classic London sound with plenty of body and clarity. Highly recommended and a well earned 5 star rating. Enjoy!! God bless you, Tony. AMDG!!"
Carmina a Bust September 21, 2012
By Ed C. (Oklahoma City, OK) See All My Reviews
"I have several copies of Carmina Burana and this is the most disappointing that I own. In my opinion, this is a huge work and even in the quieter moments in the score, it should still be a huge 'quiet' sound. This recording is dull and not exciting to listen to at all. I found the chorus on this recording lacking. It almost seemed to me that they were just going through the motions of making a recording and not performing a major work with chorus, soloists, and orchestra. I also feel that the soloists were weak and to me, barely acceptable. I must also say that I have recordings and hear the San Francisco Symphony on the radio often. This is one of the worst recordings that they have put out. If you are a beginning collector or just being inroduced to Carmina Burana, run fast away from this recording. Carmina is exciting to listen to. This CD is about as exciting as watching grass grow."