Sawallisch brilliant - under the personal supervision of Orff
A vivid and delightful XR-remastered 1956 Carmina Burana
UK EMI/Columbia LP issue: 33 CX 1480
Review of this release: Audiophile Audition
Regular readers of our weekly newsletter will know that Pristine recently took delivery of a large collection of classical vinyl discs, and over the last few weeks I've been sifting through them, pulling out interesting recordings and then checking for references to them on the Internet.
The Orff caught my eye thanks to the inclusion on the front cover, in bold capitals, of the line 'RECORDED UNDER THE SUPERVISION OF CARL ORFF'. Searching for references to this I ended up at a site which claims to be “the definitive web site” for this particular piece of music, and indeed, there's a reference to the Sawallisch recording right there.
More than that though, it reads (to me at least) as something of a challenge:
“There is a historical recording from the mid 1950's made in Orff's presence in which everybody puts in a lot of effort which is loudly applauded by Carl Orff himself on the last track but the quality of the recording means that we can't really evaluate it against later recordings.”
To be honest, having read that I thought I'd be in for something of a challenge, technically speaking, but no, this was a respectable recording for 1956; given that there is no applause present, at least on the British release (the site refers to a Capitol issue, which I assume is the US release though the site itself is based in Australia).
Anyway, having cleaned and transferred the LP I thought I might as well continue and see what a touch of XR remastering would do for it – generally the disc was in excellent condition, with only the odd click here and there needing my direct attention.
In fact the initial XR remastering was so successful that I decided to carry on with the recording and prepare it for full release. It is already available on CD elsewhere, and I have no idea whether the current issue is any improvement over the LP, but I'm more than pleased enough with how my own work has brought the very best out of this perhaps definitive (supervised by Carl Orff, remember!) performance, with frequency extension both at the bottom and top end of the range. Furthermore, where previously it was a little harsh and forward in the upper mid-range, there is now a much fuller and more convincing overall tonal balance.
Overall an excellent recording of this major work, with the Ambient Stereo version to be particularly recommended.
Technical notes by Andrew Rose
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