Nrchy, you may want to take a look at 2 other Orff "best" threads, oh about 2 months ago. Great music indded!!
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Nate, the Parliament PLP(S)161 recorded in the 1960s is a very awesome version.
Carl Orff "Carmina Burana" with Vaclav Smetacek conducting the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra and the Czech Singers Choir.
This LP has it all. It has fantastic miking, which gives very realistic width and depth of soundstage, and proper location of instruments and choir section. It is easy to tell that the Choir is on the stage, and the Orchestra in the pit in front of the Choir. The male(bass) section of the Choir is on the right, and female(treble) section on the left. Soloists step out front and deliver some of the clearest, most dynamic sounding vocal solos that I have in my collection.
Even though this is an older recording the high frequencies are recorded very well, and the things like triangles and bells come through with good accuracy. Overtones are strong. Hearing the system trying to resolve full orchestra and a choir at the same time on large scale, is pretty demanding, and is a real "acid test" of the system on large scale music. Also has some of the most realistic horn fanfares that I have in my collection.
I would recommend this particular work highly, because it is the best version I have heard. Entirely recorded in Europe.
It has a producers line at the bottom of the rear cover that reads," Connoisseur Record Corp., 160 Passaic Ave., Kearny, N.J.".
Twl, I'd usually say "forget it" to Orff on vinyl (just because I like to lay and listen to it completely) but your description has made me a believer. And I work in Kearny! And in direct response to Nrchy, I'm trying to find a cd copy on Quintessential that I love (and have probably renewed a hundred times) from my library.
Yes, the Smetacek/Czech has a big sound, (nice soundstage/miking). The sound quality is not as good as others though. The chorus is outstanding (maybe tops), especially the male chorus!! The conducting is good/ok. Keep in mind, one very beautiful tracks is #20 (or 21) for soprano. V. Babikian/Stokowski is without doubt tops. As well G. Gardner on the baritone parts is tonally perfect (Stokowski). So this Czech recording may be a must just for the fantastic chorus if you really love this compostion. Though the Jochum with the Berlin Chorus is as well very good.
Some smart person here mentioned this a while ago and I purchased Stokowski/EMI on CD, this is an excellent version and may be my top choice now.
The Jochum/DG Originals is a great performance but the recording is brightly lit.
Not sure if I mentioned this before but the budget priced Ormandy/Sony is amazingly good.......I see you rolling your eyes, heh heh. But let me reassure you this is not your typical Ormandy performance, and the sound is excellent.
And I think I was the only person to recommend the DeBurgos performance on EMI (SAN 162), and that's where I still sit notwithstanding the virtues of the other very worthy candidates that have been mentioned.
Another excellent recording is the Kegel on Philips 6768 070. It may be the most well recorded performance. But like ALL the of the various Orff Carmina Burana's on LP, it unfortunately is compromised by trying to fit too much music onto just two sides of a single LP. Too bad we never got a 3-sided LP version of any one of these excellent performances.
For something different, I still highly recommend the performances from the original Carmina Burana manuscripts by the Clemencic Consort on Harmonia Mundi.
As originals, all the ones mentioned are long out-of-print so you will have to find them used. At least two have been reissued and may still be available as reissues through the usual mail order sources. Speakers Corner reissued the Jochum/DGG recording (DGG SLPM 139362) and it still shows as in-print on their website (but they do not sell direct). I believe Testament once reissued the DeBurgos, but I don't know of any source for that new today. I've heard that the Kegel was once reissued, perhaps by Speakers Corner, but I've never found a source.
In the used market, the Jochum/DGG appears regularly for $10 or so.
Perhaps this is too obvious but there is an advertised as mint Philips LP of the Kegel listed on ebay. (22 hrs left).
Plus there are numerous used classical LP dealers with lists on the net. Virtually every major classical issue (and the all the above certainly qualify) is readily available from somewhere, BUT at a price.
BTW, I have heard all of the above mentioned performances and own all but the Smetacek on LP. My preference in overall sound is for the British EMI pressing of the Previn. But the Jochum is the best performance. Kegel is also a good choice.