(This is a remastered release of Slatkin's 1990s recording; the sound here has marginally more presence than the original release.)
If it weren't for the fact that Slatkin has had success with some other choral works, this would be something of a surprise; Slatkin clearly outdoes some of the other well-known recordings of Carmina Burana. His performance is notable for its warmth, energy, and visceral excitement, tinged with baudiness where appropriate; there is also beautiful singing and a lovely handling of melody. In those respects it is clearly better than the somewhat cool and reserved Daniel Harding release on DGG, and also clearly better than the early RCA Seiji Ozawa, which also suffers from a rather square, solemn approach that misses some of the necessary festive quality and sense of abandon. The extra energy and flexibility of Slatkin's conducting pays dividends in terms of a more natural and spontaneous quality that benefits Orff's work greatly. Even James Levine, who basically handles the piece very well, sounds stiff and overly refined by comparison.
A natural comparison will be Jochum's reading on DGG, long hailed as a definitive version. The direct utterance of Orff's Carmina Burana needs playing and singing that can match its simplicity and unaffected charm. Both Jochum and Slatkin have that, and certainly Jochum directs one of the strongest performances on record, though he could relax a little more in some of the slower sections. Both also have warm and fairly close-up sound that adds to their earthiness. Where Slatkin wins out is in the quality of his singers. Haken Hagegard acquits himself quite well throughout, with pleasing tone and delivery; John Aler's tenor does better, I think, in the Olim lacus colueram; and finally, Jochum's Gundula Janowitz can't match the touching, unaffected charm of Sylvia McNair in the In Trutina, or the ease and beauty of her delivery in the Dulcissime.
All in all, this is a thoroughly delightful trip through the world of Carmina Burana. (And I thank the other Amazon reviewers, whose enthusiasm encouraged me to buy this.)