There's no shortage of good recordings of Carl Orff's Carmina Burana on the market, and unless one has been neglectful in collecting SACDs of the big choral showpieces, there's probably little reason to indulge in this 2008 package from Chandos, except perhaps to honor the career of Richard Hickox. This recording was one of his last releases before his death in late 2008, and it is a fitting tribute to his excellence as a conductor that this live performance, with soprano Laura Claycomb, tenor Barry Banks, baritone Christopher Maltman, the Tiffin Boys' Choir, and the London Symphony Orchestra and Chorus, is given a brilliant presentation, thanks to the exceptional DSD multichannel technology used by the label. It's a solid performance, full of variety, drama, sonic depth, and ritualistic energy, and Hickox guides the vocal soloists and ensembles in a bold reading that never stints on color, excitement, and the expected bombast. The most noteworthy difference in interpretation is the way Hickox gives the vocalists considerable freedom in their lyrical numbers, and this gentle, almost dreamy feeling of rubato lends Carmina Burana some subtle expressive touches that are most welcome. All the same, if one already has a top-notch recording of this work, then this one will seem a bit redundant and not especially compelling. For all his virtues, Hickox is evenly matched by many fine conductors on other recordings, and for all its fine points, this performance does not trump its competition.
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AllMusic Review by Blair Sanderson
|Carmina Burana, scenic cantata for soloists, choruses & orchestra|