The orchestral version of Carl Orff's 1936 cantata Carmina Burana is ubiquitous and frequently recorded, but the version arranged by the composer in 1956 for vocal soloists, choir, two pianos, and percussion is something of a rarity on CD. Orff made this lean transcription two decades after he composed the first version, and his intention was to make Carmina Burana more widely available to small choruses and schools without orchestras. This 2007 live recording by the Wiltener Sängerknaben, conducted by Johannes Stecher, shows how effective this arrangement is, for the most essential aspects of the score in the vocal parts and the percussion remain the same, while the main orchestral material is efficiently managed by the two pianists. The singing of the boys and men is excellent and the solo numbers are highlighted with close-up miking. Because the musicians are fully present and committed to the performance, one only periodically becomes aware that an orchestra is missing. Anyone who wants a recording of Carmina Burana solely for the powerful music of the opening chorus "O Fortuna" should avoid this streamlined version. But this performance has consistency and professionalism, and it may interest listeners who are accustomed to choral performances with piano accompaniment.
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AllMusic Review by Blair Sanderson
Part 1. Primo vere. Ulf dem anger. Reia (Swaz hie get ume Chume, chum geselle min Swaz hie gat umbe)