Most modern performances of Carl Orff's Carmina Burana employ a full-scale symphony orchestra, replete with a large string section that tends to homogenize the overall sound and obscure details of the orchestration. This rendition by Jos van Immerseel and Anima Eterna Brugge offers surprisingly transparent sonorities, produced by emphasizing the winds, pianos, and percussion, reducing the number of strings, and exposing the inventive instrumental combinations that Orff intended to be heard. To further the effort at authenticity, Immerseel also uses vintage German instruments of the 1930s, which would have been desired by Orff, though they became difficult to find after WWII and have been supplanted in most recordings by less distinctive modern instruments. Do these historically informed decisions make a difference in the way Carmina Burana sounds and affects listeners? It is certainly cleaner in sound and crisper in accentuation, and the leaner textures make the diction of Collegium Vocale Gent and Scholum Cantorum Cantate Domino perfectly audible. Expressively, this is an exciting interpretation, full of energy and rhythmic propulsion, and whatever view one takes of Carmina Burana's inherent musical value, this recording is an excellent presentation that makes the case for following authentic period practices, even in a 20th century work.
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AllMusic Review by Blair Sanderson