Recorded live at the Barbican Centre in November 2007, Richard Hickox conducts Carl Orff’s immensely popular dramatic cantata Carmina Burana with the London Symphony Orchestra and Chorus and soloists, Barry Banks, Laura Claycomb and Christopher Maltman.
MusicOMH.com wrote of the performance, “The London Symphony Orchestra performed the work with all the commitment and exuberance that one expects from them... The three soloists were outstanding, singing with a unified dynamic power and depth of expression that is rare to find today…Christopher Maltman’s baritone is large, and he dramatically projected every emotion and quirk in the text.” Classical Source said “Hickox and his forces certainly conveyed an appropriate sense of the dramatic…Maltman had the sense of the music and histrionic demands down to a tee… Banks provided strong characterization in the high tenor writing… Claycomb conveyed the vulnerability of the soprano’s music.”
Orff is reputed to have declared around the time of Carmina’s first performance, ‘Everything I have written to date, and which you have printed, can be destroyed. With Carmina Burana, my collected works begin.’ He had a strong interest in theatrical presentations and conceived the work as a pageant. The idea came to Orff in 1935 when he encountered an edition of medieval songs edited by the poet Johann Schmeller. The vivid and colourful songs were those sung by the goliards – hedonistic students and traveling monks who celebrated their riotous pursuits in bawdy and profane poetry. The 24 ‘cantiones profanae’ chosen by Orff were translated and the composer set them to music for three vocal soloists, three choirs and a large orchestra featuring triple woodwind, two pianos and no fewer than five percussionists.
The score’s combination of gloriously infectious vulgarity interspersed with moments of genuine beauty has assured it an unquestionable position as one of the most popular of all twentieth-century choral works.
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