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Reviews: Orff: Carmina Burana - Atlanta SO/Runnicles

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Reviews: 8

Review by Penguin February 9, 2003 (10 of 11 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
This CD is a must have. If you only buy one SACD then make it this one. And if you do not like classical music then this is a very nice and accessible entrée into music without a constant drum beat. This review only addresses the 2 channel DSD and the CD layer. I have not had a chance to listen to this piece on a worthy 5.1 setup

The performance leaves little to be desired, although it is neither the most polished nor the most exciting performance of the piece, but nevertheless done nicely enough to be very enjoyable. The choir is not as large as the one on the EMI Previn recording, but massive enough to convey the emotional impact required for fully appreciating this choral masterpiece. The children of the Gwynett singers do not project as well as some other children’s choirs used in the past to perform this piece, but enough complaining…

This CD is far the best recorded digital material I heard. The dynamics are natural and the impact is unbelievable. Sitting in your chair one can easily forget about all the gear in the room and just enjoy the music. The stereo image never wanders; instrumental layers are recovered to the levels I only heard from the best of analog systems. The massive choral forte in the opening is not smeared into indecipherable jumble like one hears it most CD releases of this piece.
The stereo mix is unusually wide; it gives a close to the stage perspective of the piece. Not exactly my preference, but it is extremely well executed! Would you refuse accept a free ticket for a once in a life time performance just because it is 3rd row center? I bet not! The recording conveys good depth of the stage; you can clearly hear the spatial relation of the orchestra and the choir. I enjoy listening to this performance a lot; it gives me a toe-tapping good time every time.

The CD layer is interesting to listen to, it collapses the huge soundstage somewhat, the sound is more strident, and has a more artificial resonance to it. It retains the dynamic character of the recording, but the instruments do not have the same natural space around them as can be heard on the SACD layer. It also seems to have a higher noise floor, it almost sounds like the noise a tube microphone amp makes, a very faint white noise. Never the less this recording is pushing the limits of 44/16, well beyond the point most recordings do.

Equipment used:
Philips SACD 1000
Audible Illusion Modulus 2
Meitner Mtr101
Vandersteen 3A Signature
DIY Solid silver ribbon speaker cables
DIY Small gauge solid silver ICs
DIY Power Cords

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Review by lenw June 15, 2004 (2 of 4 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
“This Carmina has everything. The choirs sing with enthusiasm and polish, the soloists are excellent...and the orchestra plays with spirit. This is an immensely enjoyable recording.” -- The Absolute Sound

The SACD stereo tracks provide a powererful classical experience both in terms of the quality of the musical performance and the wide and deep soundstage.

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Review by Marc P July 16, 2004 (2 of 6 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
Very impressive. Wonderful sound. Wonderful performance.

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Review by DrOctodivx October 22, 2004 (6 of 6 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
This performance is awesome and the sound is incredibly detailed. Listening through the album there is so much detail at different levels that listening to it really holds me enthralled. The soundstage is quite wide using all 5 channels judiciously with excellent localization of all instruments and singers.
In comparison with other performances of Carmina Burana that I have listened to, they perform passages smoothly and naturally that in other performances I felt were somewhat disjointed.
In terms of sonics, the Drums (awesome clarity), strings and voices sounded exacly right, as if they were performing in the room around me.

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Review by Antonio June 2, 2005 (1 of 2 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  
I completely agree with the previuos reviewers. Excellent SACD.
Aboundant details present, incredible dynamics ....
If I can ad my two cents:
You need to listen to this performance a few times to get acquainted and start appreciating it.I have an older recording whith a slightly better/different (?) performace of the core and solists.
But the recording quality is awsome !
Last notice: the popular track "O Fortuna" is kind of disapoining but believe me this is overcompensated in all others tracks.
As already stated by the previous reviewers: Do not hesitate, This record is worth buying.

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Review by darkroommd December 26, 2006 (2 of 5 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  
I have not previously had Carmina Burana in my otherwise extensive CD collection. I bought this based on previous posters' reviews. I must agree that the sonics are exceptional. I have been to Atlanta's Symphony Hall many times and wonder how the engineers coaxed such a wonderful sound out of such an otherwise acoustically drab room. Other record labels need to take a lesson

The ASO's recordings are reliably polished performances and nearly always on my favorites list. Same here. The ubiquitous O Fortuna at either bookend is just a shade less intense than I would like (or have at least been accustomed). The tenor's falsetto swan song creeps me out, as perhaps is the composer's intent. As usual, the ASO Chorus is simply unrivaled. The orchestra is a willing and able accomplice to this great performance.

Again, I have no reference recording to compare, but this CD leaves me no desire to go try anything else.

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Review by Windsurfer November 13, 2008 (9 of 12 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  
Last Saturday my wife and I schlepped off to Boston for our second concert of the season. The first half of the concert was devoted to Sequentia's take on the source material for Orff's Carmina Burana. It was enlightening if not exciting.

The Orff on the other hand was a real eye-opener for me. I had never before heard the thing live. Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos conducted the BSO and our soloists were Norah Amsellem, soprano; William Ferguson, tenor and Christian Gerhaher, baritone. They were magnificent. The thing that really caught my attention however was the orchestra. There were TWO concert grand pianos! Also a powerful percussion battery - although unlike Gustav Mahler, Orff was content with one set of Tympani.

The Tanglewood Festival Chorus is a large body of singers. All alone, they can be quite loud. With an orchestra like this one however, certain passages were ear-splitting even way back in the center section of the second balcony! Loud it was, and unusual for the Boston Symphony, there were some shrill moments. Orff planned them that way. But from the outset I must say that the magnificence of the sound was in the height and breadth of what we might call the sound picture. There was a sense of power and depth that even for Symphony Hall is unusual. This was the genius of Carl Orff at work.

I had not heard this Atlanta Symphony recording for a couple years now. Prompted by the concert experience I listened to it yesterday. I allowed myself the guilty pleasure of playing this thing LOUD! I experienced the same shrillness as in the live concert and in exactly the same passages. There is something about a piccolo doubling with a struck piece of steel!

In every department, by my standards of measure, which allow much leeway to interpretive aspects of any performance, but are like an on-off switch for sound quality, this recording is magnificent! This is one of the most realistic sounding recordings I think I ever heard. The sound stage produced in my listening room rivaled that of the live event in Symphony Hall. That, folks, is really saying something! The soloists were truly satisfying (characterful). They and the chorus, and children's chorus met every demand with aplomb. I guess for me the soprano should be singled out for special mention. She soars effortlessly (or so it seems) to the highest notes and with extraordinarily sweet tone delivers the climax of the work beautifully.

The breadth, depth, and height of the sound stage presented by the multi-channel "surround" mix delivers an enormous portion of the experience of a live performance of a splendid orchestra, with splendid soloists in a splendid hall. You really are "surrounded" by the ambient signature of the Atlanta concert hall. Orff's percussive writing, as well as the innovative writing for winds and the large chorus is wonderfully captured with huge impact. I can ask for nothing more!

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Review by analogue May 7, 2009 (1 of 4 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  
Where to begin with such a well known and ironically not so well known piece of music. Like many I heard some of this music in the film 'EXCALIBUR" and it was pretty spectacular. Of course years later I discovered it was actually a famous work and not simply music composed for the film itself.
Before a review of this sacd is possible I think many people who are looking at purchasing this particluar sacd need to ask themselves what they are looking for. As with other great classical music there are many versions to buy and each one may be different in feel. Some people have a definite idea of how this work should sound. So when it comes to Orff's Carmina Burana ask youself what you want to hear.

Do you want an expansive soundstage where hundreds of singers in the choir create an almost deafening cresendo of dramatic sound or do you like a slightly more meloncholy and introspective approach where they may not be so many singers but time is taken to not overwhelm the listener and offer them time to ingest the feel.

The music heard in Excalibur is more the former and this sacd is the latter in feel. This performance is a tad subdued but the quiet is beautiful and joyful. The drums hits in the beginning are rendered in shocking relief and an audible and realistic thump can be heard. The soundstage is fairly wide but controlled and the voices have a slight humming drone to them that is enjoyable. There are times when listening to this piece that the listener can become almost mesmerised from the feel and quality of the performance.

Overall the recording in pure dsd is excellent as is the performance. Voices are beautifully realised and expressed. But this seems to be a rather subdued perfomance and mellow too. I have to turn the volume up to really hear most of what there is to hear but this is a good thing.

Its all a matter of preferance and one version or recording is not better than the other........ only that you own personal tastes should make it so. Either way this is great music to listen to and this is not in dispute.

Highly recommended.

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