One of the most popular of modern choral works, Carl Orff's Carmina Burana has found its way into many collections just on the strength of its foreboding opening, "O Fortuna." Because this work is well represented in all the major labels' catalogs, one has a wide array of performances to choose from; while several are excellent, it is difficult to say one recording is ranked above the rest. Still, there are plenty of reasons to try Marin Alsop's 2006 Naxos recording with the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra and Chorus, mostly because of its fantastic sound quality and amazingly defined details. All of the Latin and German texts are enunciated crisply by the soloists and chorus, and the orchestra plays with extraordinary precision; even the tracks are clearly separated, to allow for full resonance at the end of sections and to make the performance seem as neat as possible. This fastidious recording may not have the most imposing opening (unless the volume is turned up really high), so listeners who crave a thunderous "O Fortuna" should look elsewhere, because Alsop's emphasis on verbal clarity makes it a little less than explosive. However, this is a good recording for studying the work, and this bright, energetic performance holds up well on repeated listening. The vocal solos by baritone Markus Eiche and tenor Tom Randle are appropriately comical and entertaining, but soprano Claire Rutter's singing in "Stetit puella" and "In trutina" is beautiful in tone and expression, and well-suited to the most affecting moments of this cantata. Naxos' reproduction captures everything, though there are isolated moments where it seems an extra microphone could have made the ensemble sound a little fuller.
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AllMusic Review by Blair Sanderson
|Carmina Burana, scenic cantata for soloists, choruses & orchestra|