CARL ORFF - Carmina Burana

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CARL ORFF - Carmina Burana - Mädchenchor Hannover - Knabenchor Hannover - Stefan Adam (Baritone) - Heidi Elisabeth Meier (Soprano) - Jean-Sébastien Stengel (Tenor) - NDR Radiophilharmonie - Eiji Oue (Conductor) - 4037408060301 - Released: March 2012 - Rondeau Productions ROP6030

Most people, and I will venture a guess here of about 95%, only listen to the opening and closing O Fortuna chorus of Carl Orff's ever popular masterpiece Carmina Burana. Simply because of its use, or misuse, in movies and television commercials, and because of its ritualistic demeanour and almost savage power, it's not surprising. But if they listened to the remaining 56 minutes or so, they would quickly realize that the best parts of this work, especially when sung and performed the way they are in this 'live' recording, are sandwiched between the two.

As a matter of fact, the Mädchenchor Hannover and Knabenchor Hannover are a bit overpowered by the NDR Philharmonie during that crucial entry chorus, most likely due to the 'live' stage setup with the choirs spread out behind the orchestra, and therefore some of that powerful impact is lost in this performance. But as soon as you hit the quiet and subdued Veris leta facies, the beauty of the voices shines through the minimal instrumental forces. And Omnia sol temperat offers one of the best baritone voices I've heard in Stefan Adam. A powerful and yet pliable and expressive voice. He's created quite an impression over the last few years at the Statesopera Hannover. His solos in this work are some of the best segments on this CD, even though he sounds rushed in his powerful take on Estuans Interius. Tenor Jean-Sébastien Stengel offers up a fine lament as the roasting swan in the taxing Olim lacus colueram. And again, baritone Stefan Adam does his best at "acting" out his role in Ego sum abbas. Besides some ensemble problems and getting drowned out here and there, the choir does a fine job of hamming up the In taberna quando sumus. One of the highlights of Carmina Burana is of course Amor volat undique, where soprano Heidi Elisabeth Meier makes a memorable entrance. And what she does in the Dulcissime near the end, is beyond compare and goosebump inducing. Conductor Eiji Oue as usual, paces all the various elements perfectly in this multi-faceted work.

So if you are a member of the 95% group, sit this one through from start to finish, and it will win you over. If you are already a card holding member of the 5% club, you will enjoy the outstanding contributions from the soloists in this recording, and the feel of a live event.

Jean-Yves Duperron - May 2012