"Marin Alsop also conducts a fine, distinctive reading of Carl Orff’s most popular work, brilliantly recorded. The recording heightens the impact of the reading with its exceptionally wide dynamic range, so that pianissimos are hushed and intimate, set against great choral outbursts, with the Bournemouth Chorus and the Youth Choirs providing a powerful mainstay to the whole performance. Much the most important of the soloists is the baritone, here the dark, cleanly focused Markus Eiche, a great strength, while the tenor, Tom Randle, gives a delightful characterization is falsetto for the roast swan sequence, and Claire Rutter sings with perfect purity in the radiant soprano solos in the final section. A top bargain recommendation." **** - Key Recording
The Penguin Guide - January 2009
Disc Of the Month
"There are few works that polarise opinion as much as Carl Orff’s dramatic oratorio Carmina Burana .This theatrical, melodic, arcane and outrageous work was an instant hit after its first performance in 1937 and made Orff a household name. The work’s percussive, driving, black-and-white minimalism and catchy melodies make it instantly accessible... It’s a tough and demanding sing for the chorus, and the members of the Bournemouth Symphony Choir tackle their music with passion and energy, crisp ensemble and excellent diction. Perhaps during the higher-lying passages, such as those in ‘Floret silva’, the tuning can sound a little strained, but there’s no mistaking the commitment and energy the singers bring to the music. The young singers of the excellent children’s choruses are obviously enjoying themselves during the boisterous ‘Tempus est iocundum’.
The recorded sound is superb—extremely clear and well balanced. The glittering percussion section, which plays such an important part in the work, is recorded to the fore, but not excessively so, and the balance between voices and instruments is crisp and spacious. This recording—at budget price is a must-have for any collection."
Emma Baker - Classic FM magazine - May 2007
"The world is not short of recommendable recordings of Carmina Burana even at budget price, which means that Naxos’s entrant has high standards to maintain. And in many respects it does. The engineering is generally first class and the performers—all of them—are caught with immediacy. The incisive men’s voices are finely calibrated, and the brass cuts through splendidly in Fortune plango vulnera, though here the lower strings do sound just a touch muddy. Ecce gratum ends I Primo vere with rousing declamation and when Alsop needs to bring out the heavy guns, as here, they are duly brought out. The girls and women sing graciously in Chramer, gip die varwe mir augmenting the fine orchestral contribution here and elsewhere. They’re attentive in the quieter passages especially and the brass and percussion sections prove strong and assertive in Uf dem anger—with a particularly combustible conclusion to the section. Major responsibilities fall on the soloists. Baritone Markus Eiche is bluffly convincing, full of well-characterised vocalism; the voice is excellently scaled and malleable within its compass. If one has criticisms they centre on the unconvincing head voice in Dies, nox et omnia. Tenor Tom Randle’s delivery is idiosyncratic and won’t be to all tastes; best to sample his way with In Taberna. Of course the tenor is pushed high and sometimes punishingly so but higher up his voice has a strange kind of “halo” around it. Which leaves the soprano Claire Rutter, whose opening statements in the third section Cour d’amours are most impressive—she floats Stetit puella very nicely indeed."
Jonathan Woolf - MusicWeb-International.com - November 2007
"German composer Carl Orff’s exotic setting of bawdy texts by unknown mediaeval poets written in 1935-6. After Orff discovered the texts in JA Symonds’s 1884 anthology Wine, Women and Song has become something of a crossover cantata these days, with a popular appeal bred by TV adverts and the soundtracks of such films as Excalibur and Natural Born Killers. Its lusty strains are delivered with due gusto by the Bournemouth forces under Marin Alsop and soloists led by Claire Rutter and Thomas Randle."
Anthony Holden - The Observer (London) - March 2007
"Alsop brings a savage feel to the orchestral opening of Orff’s masterpiece, but the effect is squandered by a ragged chorus entry. The singers sound under strength as a baying horde, although they regroup and give an incisive account of Veni Veni later in the work. The soloists are classy — the tenor Thomas Randle makes delicious work of the roast swan and Clare Rutter is a sensuous voice of love. Alsop conducts imperiously throughout, although the Dance interlude could have had a lighter tread." ***
Rick Jones - The Times (London) - March 2007
"...Alsop, who invariably shines in music filled with rhythmic assertiveness and living-color instrumentation, taps into the earthy jolt of the well-worn score, keeping things taut and crisp. There’s a nice bite to the aggressive passages, an unfussy lyricism to the sweeter ones. The choral and orchestral forces of the Bournemouth Symphony respond impressively, nowhere more so than in the last movement of the “On the Green” section—55 particularly incendiary seconds. Alsop has the men’s voices building up terrific steam at the end of the “In the Tavern” section, and she likewise generates considerable propulsion in the orchestra-only “Round Dance.” A touch more snap and drive would be welcome in a few places, as in the recurring outbursts from the orchestra in “Wounded by Fortune,” and the cantata’s finale, which is nearly anticlimactic, missing the last ounce of exultation and abandon. But the performance clicks nonetheless, and also delivers a sizable sonic impact. Of the soloists, baritone Markus Eiche is unfailingly expressive, giving words a lot of character, though his voice doesn’t open up easily at the top end. Tom Randle tackles the single, thankless tenor aria—the lament of a slowly roasting swan—more or less effectively. Long-breathed soprano Claire Rutter does thoroughly enchanting work in “The Court of Love” section, though upper register constriction keeps her final solo from reaching an ethereal state. Orff’s celebration of medieval revels is already heavily represented on disc, but there should be room for one more, especially one this full of life."
Tim Smith - The Baltimore Sun - January 2007
"The success of a performance of Carmina Burana often depends on qualities quite different from most classical music: sheer volume, for instance, and the force with which Orff’s barbaric rhythms are felt in the listener’s own body. Marin Alsop’s new recording of the work meets these requirements but offers much else besides. One telling touch is the spacious resonance of the recording venue; it’s a concert hall, yet the way the music hangs in the air makes it sound like a Gothic cathedral, enhancing the appeal of Orff’s archaic medievalism. Naturally, that’s especially evident in the big climaxes of the piece, nowhere more than in the familiar “O Fortuna” chorus that opens and closes the cycle. But Alsop and her musicians in the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra and Chorus make the music’s contrasting, more delicate moments just as persuasive, revealing the transparency of Orff’s careful orchestration in certain passages, especially the early stages of the “Court of Love” section. Of the three soloists, soprano Claire Rutter is a special standout, her pure tone a perfect fit for the lyrical sentiments of “Stetit puella” and “In trutina,” while Markus Eiche bellows his way through the blustery baritone solos of “Ego sum abbas” and “Circa mea pectora” in a forceful style that’s also totally appropriate to Orff’s dynamic music. Alsop is clearly having a lot of fun as she leads her forces here—another absolute requirement for a successful performance of Carmina Burana—making this a highly satisfying option among the many recordings of this crowd-pleasing work."
Scott Paulin - Barnes & Noble - January 2007
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