Orff: Carmina Burana - Previn
Eloquence 476 736-7
Classical - Vocal
Carl Orff: Carmina Burana
Arnold Schoenberg Chor
André Previn (conductor)
Review by Graham Williams - November 11, 2005
DGG issued this Carmina Burana on CD in 1994. It was recorded live at the Musikverein, Vienna in October 1993 and in this format still seems to be in the catalogue at full price.
It now appears in SACD on the budget Eloquence label which sadly means no notes about the music and no texts or translations, but why Universal chose to issue this one on SACD from their many other good recordings of the piece is something of a mystery.
The Previn performance is, quite frankly, limp when compared with his earlier EMI recording. This is in spite of having good soloists and choruses plus excellent orchestral playing from the Vienna Philharmonic. It plods along unexcitingly for 63 minutes.
Anthony Michaels-Moore sings the baritone part smoothly but sounds pretty uninvolved. Barbara Bonney is ravishing in her solos (In trutina and Dulcissime) and only Frank Lopardo sounds a little strained in his song about the roasted swan (Olim lacus colueram). There are occasional odd rustling sounds between movements but no other audience noise – they were probably asleep!
What really lets this SACD down even more than the dull performance is the sound quality. Throughout there is a horrible halo of artificial reverberation round the solo voices and choir. This also gives an excessive brightness and edge to the orchestra and I presume that this is due to the use of what is called Ambient Surround Imaging 11; described by Universal as “an optimised sensurround sound experience for audio surround systems”. It transforms the acoustic of the Musikverein into that of a huge empty cave or cathedral. I was constantly reminded of one of those nasty DSP programs such as ‘Movie Theatre spectacle’ etc.
The Cooke version on Membran/RPO is in a different class altogether and is thoroughly recommendable.
Copyright © 2005 Graham Williams and HRAudio.net