Richard Blackford

75th Birthday Tribute

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Carl ORFF (1895-1982)
Carmina Burana [58:05]
Die Kluge (highlights) [17:50]
Janice Harsanyi (soprano), Rudolph Petrak (tenor), Harve Presnell (baritone)
Rutgers University Choir
Philadelphia Orchestra/Eugene Ormandy
Philharmonia Orchestra/Wolfgang Sawallisch (Die Kluge)
rec. ADD, stereo, 1960/1
ALTO ALC 1219 [75:45]

Ormandy’s Carmina Burana and Catulli Carmina were highly thought of when first issued and have reappeared on Sony Essential Classics. The praise that has come their way is no surprise. After all, the only downside to Ormandy’s Walton Belshazzar’s Feast (review) is that Rutgers University Choir – the same choir used here - sounds singer-depleted and lacks oomph. Otherwise it’s a redoubtable version.
The choir in the case of the present disc sounds more than sufficiently full voiced. What’s more they have been drilled to enunciating perfection in this virtuoso work. Listen to the way they peck out the words of the Ecce Gratium with teeth biting down into the bone. There’s the most agreeable savagery about the singing of Were diu werkt alle min and Quando sumus. They are fully equal to the tongue twisting of Si Puer cum puellula.
As for the excerpts from Die Kluge these do not survive the translation from vinyl to digital quite as well as the Ormandy tracks. I noted some distortion at the start of the knees-up that is Als die treue ward geboren. Still, it is lovely to hear Paul Kuen, Hermann Prey and Gustav Neidlinger. The rhythmic pepper to be heard in these 18 minutes of music confirms the affinity here with Carmina Burana. If you like one you will like the other and broaden your horizons into the bargain.
There are no words but the track-listing is very full. The notes are by James Murray. He even goes to the trouble to provide decent mini-profiles of every one of the singers and of the two conductors.
The Carmina Burana recording wears its fifty years lightly and still sounds very good indeed - well equal to the demands of what is an elite performance.

Rob Barnett

Experience Classicsonline