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4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5 out of 5 stars
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on September 29, 2000
This recording is far and away the best performance of Carmina Burana. The mood and feeling of each poem are incredible in their power. Both takes of "O Fortuna" are more threatening and potent than any other I have ever heard. "Fortune plango vulnera" ties with the second version of "O Fortuna" as my favorite song and "In taberna quando sumus" is a close third. are Jochum has truly recorded THE definitive Carmina Burana.
There are some very minor downsides to the recording. Occasionaly, a page turn can be heard, but I believe this only adds to the vitality of the perfomance. My one real quibble is Janowitz. The Amazon editorial review is largely correct - in Dulcissime, she sounds rather strained. It doesn't bother me as it does some people, possibly because I'm not a singer. However, Dulcissime a :34 song, and given the true brilliance of this recording, it can be easily overlooked.
Some VERY minor quibbles I have with the recording: - first, there seems to be some controversy over the spelling of the town and monestary from where the Latin text is supposed to have originated. Most liner notes translate "Carmina Burana" as "Songs from Benediktbeuren", including this version. However, some people hold that "Burana" refers to Benediktbeurn rather than -beuren, which is a more common German ending. A small difference, to be sure. Also, there are some errors in the Latin text (the full original text in Latin and sometimes German is provided, with running English translations). The earlies example is in "Fortune plango vulnera", in the third stanza, where the Latin reads "nam sub axe legimus/Hecubam reginam." The provided translation is "for under the axis is written/Queen Hecuba." Problem: legimus means "we write", not "it is written." That would be legitur. Also, in various places throughtout the text, what would be "mihi" in Classical Latin becomes "michi" in this text. I'm not a Medievalist, and I don't know if this is an alternate form or just an error. Certainly, these are insignificant issues. I only mention them because they exist - they of course do not harm the listening experience in any way.
This recording was performed in 1968. When I first listened to the recording, I didn't know that and I thought it was a more recent recording. The sound quality is beautiful. It has depth and vigor and power that is truly amaziing.
Please, don't be discouraged by any of the very minor trifles I have mentioned above. If you are looking for a recording, buy this one. Any other would be a waste of your money when this truly incredible recording is available.
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on November 12, 2009
I have six different recordings of this masterpiece, and this particular recording is probably my least favourite of them all. It's jarring to hear sprightly passages played too slowly, making them seem to plod along -- and it's even worse to hear sensuous and languid portions like "Cour D'Amours" and "Uf Dem Anger" played too quickly, as if they were all in a hurry to get home. It ruins the effect completely.

And Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau? I actually winced, hearing him in his solo passages, where he's supposed to sound impassioned and suffering, to hear him warbling away like he thought he was singing lieder. Sorry, no. If you want to hear how it all SHOULD sound, buy the CD with Charles Dutoit conducting the Orchestre Symphonique de Montreal, which is the finest version I've ever heard -- the best use of tempo, the best diction, and the best soloists by far.

And PLEASE, let's get something straight: "Carmina" does NOT rhyme with "Christina", it rhymes with "stamina". "Carmen" is a second-declension neuter noun in Latin, as is "stamen", and in the nominative plural, the stress falls on the FIRST syllable. It's CAR-min-a, not car-MEE-na.

It makes my hair stand on end to hear someone pronounce it like they think the "-ina" is an Italian diminutive ending, as if they think "Carmina" means "little Carmen". It does NOT. (Imagine how jarring it would be to hear someone say "An athlete needs strength and sta-MEE-na" and you might get the effect.)
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on January 22, 2003
First, I would like to say that I don't know anything regarding classical or opera terms, and that I'm writing this review as your average Joe who loves music. Ok, with that said, I highly recommend this CD. I first saw the Trans Siberian Orchestra perform O Fortuna live, and since that moment I became obsessed with finding the perfect recording. I've read a lot of reviews from both musicians and collectors, and this was ranked very high (with few exception like you'llfind with Amazon[.com] reviews). Furthermore, Carl Orff himself has approved this album. What more do you need. It's performed as he intended. I would also like to add that I was never a big fan of Opera style music, but his style is so unique that you can't help but love it. More so, the lyrics are actual poems from real people who lived hundreds of years before Carl applied the music. There is true history and meaning in the words (if you can understand Latin). Please, do yourself a favor and buy this album. It's worth it, especially for the price listed.
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on January 12, 2002
This was the third recording of Carmina Burana I had ever listened to and at the time, I thought it was the best. However, after hearing James Levine's recording, this one has become second best.
Don't get me wrong... it's very Germanic, robust, strong, and exciting in every aspect. But technically, it has it's share of problems. The choir and orchestra fight with one another and A LOT of pronunciation gets lost to shouting.
All that aside, I'm giving Jochum's recording five stars because of the energy injected into it. It drives faster and faster and is truly a heart pounding performance.
The soloists are exemplary, with Fischer-Dieskau's Abbot's song amazingly acted out in song.
The Roasted Swan Song is in a Stolze's falsetto, a quality that gives it an amusing vulgarity.
And I don't care what anyone says about Gundula Janowitz... I still love her voice as it always sounds beautifully pure and sparkling.
I would still higly recommend this recording, especially if you aren't learning Carmina Burana and you just want to listen to it. It has definitely carved out it's own niche in the world of great performances.
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on March 31, 2001
Before I begin, I must say that this is NOT the first recording of CB i've heard. In fact, I'm biased towards the Michael Tilson Thomas recording (I think i'm one of few who like that version!). Having said that, I must also say that for the price, you could do much worse than this recording.
In comparison to MTT, Jochum takes his tempi much slower. I'm used to hearing a faster "O Fortuna," for instance, so hearing it at andante in the beginning is a bit jarring. (The second run through is a bit better for its speed) The orchestra is sometimes overpowered by the chorus. When i can hear them, they sound pretty strong.
The chorus... <cringes> while they are lusty and full-blooded, as one reviewer called them... many times they seem very "messy," making the words somewhat unintelligible. <Shrugs> It may be just a matter of what sounds grating to the individual ear.
The soloists, however, are especially fine, and make the recording worthwhile. Fischer-Dieskau handles the differing baritone ranges with grace; this makes me a fan! Stoltze also performs the difficult "Olim lacus" with a strong voice and humor, just as it should be done. Janowitz has her moments, with "In trutina" as a shining example. As for "Dulcissime"... the first time I heard it (it was the first one i played to see how bad it REALLY was), i thought it sounded very otherworldly and kind of beautiful. After hearing Janowitz's voice in previous songs, I did agree that her voice was a bit strained. However, I made the excuse that it was supposed to be a bit "screamy," as the representation of the maiden's deflowering... <shrugs> It's really not so bad.
All in all, a pleasant recording for the price, and made even more "definitive" by Orff's authorization.
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on December 23, 2000
In my years of listening to classical music, this is by far the greatest recording of Carmina Burana I have found.
Listen, people, this work is powerful and stirring. Orff knew what he was doing - his music lends great power to masterful Latin lyrics, which are thoughtfully included. Very fortunately for us listeners, Jochum and the rest carry this collection off masterfully. Excellent sound quality, especially for 1968.
You can sometimes hear a page turn or two, but I think this just adds a little life to the recording. On one occasion, this recording falls flat - hearing Janowitz on "Dulcissime" was one of the more painful experiences of my life. Unfortunate as this flaw is, the near perfection of the rest of the recording makes up for 30 seconds of squealing.
Everyone with any interest in either classical music, the Medieval period, or Latin should buy this recording. Most of the other recordings can't touch this one - this truly an incredible performance.
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on June 4, 2003
If one sticks to rigid traditions about what a soprano should or should not sound like at various vocal ranges, then yes, the Dulcissime sounds very different from what it is "supposed to." However, I think that the soprano is clearly making a choice about how to sing this brief segment. Of course she could sing it "correctly" if she wanted to, but I think the soprano is taking a big risk by singing outside the box. If you are willing to remove yourself from what convention tells you is beautiful, I think you will find the Dulcissime an extremely powerful, sweeping, breathtaking experience. Music history is replete with people stepping outside of convention to meet with serious public censure. Let's not forget the intial public reaction to Stravnski's Rite of Spring. I think the soprano is a ground breaker, and posterity might just show again that perhaps we're all being a bit too stuffy and constricted in our judgments.
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on April 27, 2004
It may sound chauvinistic to say so, but in this case, I think a work by a German composer (using old German for part of its text) is best interpreted by German performers. Eugen Jochum is a superb interpreter, keeping this somewhat chaotic work from sounding sloppy or disjointed.
There are some problems with volume levels -- they vary WIDELY.
The chorus and orchestra is that of the Deutsche Oper. They are very fine. They are quite used to singing with expression, and it shows.
Soloists are all good. I think I've heard better renditions of the dying swan, but this is clearly a matter of taste.
The baritone solo part is extremely demanding to be done at all well. The baritone is Fischer-Dieskau, and there is none better. He does just incredibly well, showing devastingly fine technique.
You'll find newer jobs, but none significantly better than this.
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on November 21, 2002
This is supposedly an overall excellent rendering of Carmina Burana. I happen to have 3 different recordings of C.B. including this one, so I have had the chance to compare the 3 side by side. I like C.B. a lot because I used to sing as a baritone in a choir that participated in several performances of Carmina Burana. Dieskau is no doubt excellent being one of the top lieder baritones in the world. But at least in my humble opinion, he is not as good as Jonathan Summers in the EMI recording with Ricardo Muti conducting C.B. That doesn't mean Summers is a better baritone, but for Carmina Burana I think his voice does sound better. While still being a soft and beautiful voice when needed, he has much stronger and powerful fortes than Dieskau when needed too, way much more character, and those are very important aspects of the baritone part in this piece.
On top of the excellent performance by Summers, Arleen Auger (in that same recording with Ricardo Muti conducting) sings arguably one of the most beautiful and effortless "Dulcisimas" ever sung. In comparison, the soprano in this Jochum recording screeches a horrible Dulcisima. Also, Ms. Auger's long note in "Amor volat undique" when singing "Cordis in custodiaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa..." is arguably one of the longest and most beautifully steadily and effortlessly uninterrupted notes ever sung. The soprano in Jochum's recording stops in the middle to breathe, as pretty much all other sopranos in the world do (actually I haven't yet heard any other recorded or live performance of any other soprano singing that note all the way without stopping in the middle the way Auger's does). Ms. Auger makes the complete soprano role in Carmina Burana seem to be the easiest and most natural thing to sing in the world, when it's an extremeley hard challenge for any soprano. You have to listen to these two recordings, Jochum and Muti, one after the other to hear the difference between not just a comfortable, but a perfect soprano voice for the role, and one that is clearly struggling to produce the highest note in the Dulcisima, making it sound way less than pretty.
The volume levels in the Ricardo Muti recording is the only significant drawback. The orchestra in several ocassions sounds way too loud. The singers do perform excellent performances as I've already mentioned, and I think the choirs as well, but their volume levels got recorded quite low with respect to the orchestra, not appropriately balanced in that respect. The recording engineers messed up this pretty bad, you need to have your remote at hand when listening to the EMI-Muti record to keep the playback volume under control to either not hurt your ears when the orchestra goes loud, and to really enjoy the solos when their turns come up.
I personally prefer the sound of the tenor in the Jochum recording than in the Muti one, but that is the least important solo in Carmina Burana, lasting only a couple of minutes, and it's just a humorous role (voice of a duck getting roasted). Overall sound balance Jochum's recording beats Muti's, but solo performances in my opinion clearly go the other way around.
I think if you really love and enjoy C.B., it is a good idea to consider getting at least 3 recordings: this one conducted by Jochum, the one by Muti, and there is another good one conducting Andre Previn. I've read that one is also highly praised, but I haven't had a chance to listen to it (planning to get it very soon to add it to my Carmina Buranas).
In any case, make sure you stay dead far away from the C.B. conducted by Eugene Ormandy. It's very dissapointing in most musical aspects, at least compared to the Jochum and Muti options (putting aside volume issues in the case of Muti). I have a SACD player so I made the mistake to buy the E.Ormandy C.B. in SACD format, it was a complete waste of money. Unfortunately it was in Best Buy, no return policy once the disk package had been opened.
Conclusion, this one by Jochum is a good way to go, but not the only one, and not the best one for certain aspects of Carmina Burana, in particular the soprano. I'd suggest don't stick to this one alone. You would be missing to much sound beauty if you don't listen to (at least) Arleen Auger and Jonathan Summers at the appropriate volume level in the EMI recording, Ricardo Muti conducting.
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on February 22, 2001
Prior to buying this recording, I had owned the Robert Shaw/Atlanta Symphony recording on Telarc. For a long time I was satisfied with it, simply because I did not have very high expectations for this work. Then, one day, I suddenly decided that Carmina Burana is more than merely a popular classical tune. I wanted a performance that breathed life into the work, something that the Shaw recording had failed to do.
I tried several other "top" recordings before finally decided to buy this one. They included the Ormandy (Sony), Muti (EMI), and Previn (EMI). One that I wish I had the chance to try, though, is the Blomstedt recording on London. Nonetheless, after listening to these versions, I decided to buy the Jochum. To be honest, except for maybe the Ormandy, Jochum's recording does not sound as good as the others. At times, the recorded sound does show its age. However, the performance is absolutely first rate. As others have already mentioned, except for that little track of Janowitz's, everything else is great. While it'll be too pompous to say that this is the definitive recording of the work, you are really missing out on a great performance if you don't even give it a try. I hope you will decide to let Orff and Jochum take you back in time to the Middle Ages.
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