Over the years there have been some impressive recordings of Carmina Burana from DG, starting with Jochum’s electrifying version, recorded in 1967 with the composer himself present and giving his approval. More than the Levine version or Previn’s DG reading, this one from Thielemann harks directly back to that classic account, and not just because, like Jochum’s, it has the chorus and orchestra of the Deutsche Oper, Berlin. It is a remarkable statistic that that Jochum performance is over five minutes shorter than any of the rivals I have listed, yet in no way feels rushed, simply urgent and incisive, more sharply focused than either Levine or Previn on DG.
Thielemann’s overallRead more timing is also much longer, at 63 minutes rather than 56, but the difference lies predominantly in the slow, lyrical sections. So, although with Thielemann such a movement as the one opening the ‘Primo vere’ section is much longer, he loses nothing in tension, simply following the marking molto flessibile in the score. More importantly, Thielemann’s speeds in fast sections come very close to those of Jochum and there is a similarly bright incisiveness, with rhythms clipped and well sprung, and with a comparably high voltage generated.
It is interesting that in all of the DG versions listed, the balance of the chorus is relatively backward, very different from Previn’s EMI version of 1974, where the choral sound is closer and beefier. It is one of the few reservations I have about the sound in this latest Thielemann version that though it is impressively full and brilliant, with fine inner clarity and wonderfully sharp definition of the many antiphonal contrasts, not only the chorus but more particularly the semi-chorus sound distant. You can hear every detail, and the pianissimos are magical, but closer recording would have made the results even more involving. Maybe through all these recordings, the DG engineers have kept in mind that 1967 model under the composer’s supervision.
The choral singing is superb, warm and dramatic, reflecting the work of singers from the opera house, and the Knabenchor Berlin in the penultimate movement of the ‘Court of Love’ section adds an aptly earthy tang, well caught by the recording. The soloists too, like Jochum’s, are as near ideal as could be. David Kuebler is totally unfazed by the high tessitura of so much of the tenor writing: not just clean and precise and characterizing superbly in the ‘roast swan’ sequence, but singing most beautifully in his equally taxing solo in the ‘Court of Love’ section (‘Dies, nox et omnia’). Christiane Oelze even matches the lovely Gundula Janowitz (for Jochum) in the soprano sections, ravishingly pure and true both in ‘In trutina’ and ‘Dulcissime’. But it is the singing of Simon Keenlyside which above all crowns this brilliant performance, at once clear, fresh and characterful, with the voice beautifully focused up to the superb top Gs in ‘In taberna’, which, in emulation of Jochum, Thielemann takes at a challengingly fast speed. It is good to have this much-recorded work again sounding as fresh as it did in that historic model.
Carmina buranaby Carl Orff Performer:
Christiane Oelze (Soprano),
Simon Keenlyside (Baritone),
David Kuebler (Tenor)
Berlin Deutsche Oper Chorus,
Berlin Deutsche Oper Orchestra
Period: 20th Century Written: 1936; Germany Date of Recording: 10/1998 Venue: Christ Church, Berlin, Germany Length: 62 Minutes 6 Secs. Language: Latin
Average Customer Review: ( 2 Customer Reviews )
Drunks and lovers show restraintSeptember 22, 2012By angus ross (north sydney, NS)See All My Reviews"Technically speaking this is a very fine recording. The sound is first rate. The orchestral shadings are refined, the voices consistent, and the overall approach unified. However these strengths may conspire to deprive the work of the extremes which are part of its charm. The notes describe a "world of elemental feelings" but in this sense the performance fails to deliver. The harmonic language is consciously "primitive", but the result is a bit too professional, too removed from the folk idiom which informed the composition. The soprano is a tad heavy in the "Court of Love" section; the baritone a little too controlled to be a believable drunk. But this is a worthwhile performance overall, one which may appeal to those with a slightly anal streak."Report Abuse
Dramatic and Intense!!August 28, 2012By W. Brown (Centerburg, OH)See All My Reviews"This is a fantastic cd - Christian Thielmanns brings out the drama and intensity in this reading. I must confess that the only soloist I was familiar with was Simon Keenlyside. All the soloists are outstanding in their rolls. The sonics are up to Deutsche Gramonphone's standards, and this is a Gramophone Editor's pick. I would also recommend Eugen Jochum's and Herbert Blomstedt's recordings of the work, but for a more recent recording pick this one up. It's a bargain!! Recommended!!"Report Abuse