Orff – Carmina Burana – Thomas

More Orff

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This Super Hot Stamper pressing has an amazing side one, with the kind of BIG BOLD sound that a work of this scale demands. It has the energy that’s missing from so many pressings; the life of the music really comes through on this side one, let me tell you.

The right pressings of this recording played on the right stereo take you at least as far as you need to go, to the point at which your suspension of disbelief can take over and let you believe it’s real music, not a recording. (Side two of this copy was not nearly as good I’m sorry to say. Like so many we’ve played it’s dark and recessed.)

Large Scale

The recording itself is as DYNAMIC as they come. Unless your stereo can play very loud, the quiet voices after the intro will not come alive the the way they would in actual performance. If you set the volume properly for those quiet voices, the loud passages are going to be VERY LOUD. But that is precisely the way this music is written. Small speaker owners are never going to be able to reproduce this music with much fidelity. But wait a minute: neither are big speaker owners, truth be told. This kind of large scale work just can’t fit comfortably inside a listening room; it needs a concert hall, and a capacious one at that.

The Average Copy

The average copy falls pretty far short of that mark. Most of the pressings we played we’re smeary and veiled, with no texture to the strings and voices that were stuck in a fog behind the speakers. The good pressings let you hear the breathiness of the singer’s voices. The horns will have nice bite to them as well.

Vocal Reproduction of the Highest Quality

Take special note of the sound of the soloists throughout the work. The amount of artificiality in the sound of the voices, on a scale of zero to ten, is ZERO. There is no pop record in the history of the world that has voices as natural as those found here. (The great London operas also have amazingly well recorded voices. It’s uncanny how REAL the singers can sound on recordings such as these.)

Yet another example of a Top Test Disc that works as a Top Demo Disc too.

All the good audiophile stuff — soundstage width, depth, and three-dimensionality — can be found on the high rez copies like this one as well of course. The sound is wonderfully open and transparent; you can really hear the voices of the singers reverberating around the hall. Both sides here had deep and powerful bass. All that bottom end energy is needed to balance the mids and highs; a thin sounding or lean sounding pressing of this music would be painful indeed.

Sides One and Two

We rate side one A++. Considering this is a very long work, perhaps the first side will give you most of what you really need to enjoy Orff’s masterpiece.

Side two rated a solid A — good but not in the same league with side one.

A Top Quality Performance

A properly engineered recording of the work is hard to find. The only other one I can think of is the Telarc recording with Shaw. It’s exceedingly difficult to get the voices and the instruments to sound right at the same time. John Culshaw would have probably beem the right man for the job, but the Columbia engineers can be proud of their work here. Michael Tilson Thomas understands this music well — the performances on this record ranks with the best I’ve heard.

Performed by the Cleveland Orchestra under the direction of Michael Tilson Thomas.

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