None of that fancy stuff. Over the years I've kept the original Telarc with Robert Shaw. Pretty damn good sound and performance.
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I like the one performed by the London Symphony Orchestra directed by Andre Previn on the EMI label (CDC 7 47411 2). The performance was recorded in 1975 and conveyed the intensity and rhythm of the composition better than the Robert Shaw performance on the Telarc label. The "skill" of the soloists and chorus were also superior in the Previn performance. The Telarc recording does sound better.
Eugen Jochum conducting the German Opera Orchestra; sololists include Janowitz, Fischer-Dieskau;
Deutche Grammonphon 423 886-2
Seiji Ozawa conducting the Berlin Philharmonic; Soloists are include Gruberova and Aler with the Shinyukai Choir;
Philips 422 363-2
I also like the recent recording with Charles Dutoit conducting the Montreal Symphony and Choir. Soloists are Hoch, Olsen, Oswald;
I like Sugarbrie's CD choices here, and the Dutoit/London does have fabulous modern sound as well as good performance. The Jochum may actually have better performance but the DG Originals sound can be brightly lit at times, still a thrilling CD and mid price vs full price for Dutoit. If you are looking for demonstration sound get the Dutoit.
To insert a divergent view, and since you did not specify the Holst "Carmina Burana," allow me to suggest the original version -- Rene Clemencic and the Clemencic Consort on the Harmonia Mundi label: HMC 90335 (single CD) and HMA 190336.38 (3 CDs).
This is decidedly NOT the Holst 20th Century adaptation of this music. It is from the original manuscript as interpreted and presented on original instruments and in period performance practice. Marvelously recorded and performed.
I posted a thread on favorite C.B., and got alot of votes for the Jochum. I would have to put this one first in most aspects. But the one that interests me most is the Houston S.O. performance with Stokowski at the podium. The chorus is not as good as the Berlin, but there are some orchestral passages that Stokowski's genius shines through.
Stoki couldn't resist tweaking. He was the world's most prolific orchestral tweaker, and never above "improving" a composer's orchestration. He even recorded in stereo in the 1930's at Bell Labs. The tenor on his recording with the Houston Symphony is Clyde Hager, a very sweet man with a beautiful voice. I was privileged to sing with Clyde a few times here in Houston.
Have not heard all 25+ recordings of the C.B., the Stokowski could very well take top performance. Listen to how Stokowski takes the tempo and detail through out, but especially in the close, hear the "undulations". ( Stokowski's genius!, he missed nothing, Magician!) As well i prefered the Houston chorus more, had less of an "operatic sound"(vs the Berlin). (remember these are "cantiones profanae") Soprano Virginia Babikian sings In trutina with great,spectactular beauty and emotion. The DG vs EMI tract #21 sound totally different, i did not like the Janowitz version much, whereas the Babikian performance i could not live without. I felt the baritone, Guy Gardner had just the right tonal voice for the part. Just my impressions, you may find other versions more interesting.??
Travis, thanks for the interesting notes. "world's most prolific orchestral tweaker", "channeling the composers intentions" = "improving", is something i needed to hear. I guess i could have read something of this in Stokowski's biographies. But you said it well! When i first heard the Stokowski w/ the National S.O. performance of the Sibelius S.#1, i knew this man was a conductor with a profound understanding of music. My recent comparison of the Car. Bur. just confirmed the magical nature of his conducting. And the soloists are outstanding as well, just a perfect recording!! and that makes me very happy.