A landmark collection of medieval music, available for the first time in many years.
The ‘Carmina Burana’ is the most famous of all treasuries of medieval Latin and Middle High German poetry, named after the Bavarian monastery where it was compiled and preserved. It is best known today for Carl Orff’s hour-long selection from its rich collection of love lyrics, student songs and religious poetry, written in Latin and old German. During the 1960s and 70s a few early-music ensembles made more or less successful efforts to capture the unique mix of secular and sacred idioms brought together by the original manuscripts. But a systematic approach to the ‘Carmina Burana’ had to wait until the late 1980s when one of Britain’s most innovative early-music groups undertook a project to record over a quarter of the 200-plus songs at the behest of Decca’s L’Oiseau-Lyre imprint.
The first volume of ‘Carmina Burana’ was only the second recording made by the New London Consort and its founder-director Philip Pickett but the album was quickly recognised as a signal event in the wider dissemination of medieval music. Critics praised the fidelity to the spirit as well as the text of ‘Carmina Burana’; the eloquent and often witty text-centred singing of Catherine Bott, Michael George and others; and the imaginative use of a full medieval instrumentarium.
After the success of Volume 1, recorded early in 1986, L’Oiseau-Lyre recorded three further albums a year later and they became the basis for the wider international reputation of the New London Consort. Since being issued as a set in 1996, Pickett’s ‘Carmina Burana’ has long been unavailable: a significant lacuna in early-music recordings which this issue corrects.
Carmina Burana: A Medieval Collection
Carmina Burana: Volume I
Carmina Burana: Volume II
Carmina Burana: Volume III
Carmina Burana: Volume IV
New London Consort
Recording Producer: Peter Wadland
Balance Engineers: Simon Eadon (CD 1); Stanley Goodall (CDs 2, 3 & 4)
Tape Editors: Neil Hutchinson (CD 2); Jonathan Stokes (CD 3); Alison Carter (CD 4)
Recording Locations: Henry Wood Hall, London, UK, 13–14 January 1986 (CD 1); Temple Church, London, UK, 12-17 January 1987 (CDs 2, 3 & 4)
Original L’Oiseau-Lyre Releases: 417 373-2 (CD 1); 421 062-2 (CD 2); 425 117-2 (CDs 3 & 4)
‘Pickett and the New London Consort’s scholarly and sensitive approach to both music and text in ‘Carmina Burana’ (c.1300) confirms this issue’s place in the catalogue … These atmospheric performances, which boast excellent singing from soloists Bott and George, and ideal balance between voices and instruments, are further enhanced by warm, sympathetic recordings.’ BBC Music Magazine, January 2012
‘Highly committed, well prepared performances. Special, even exaggerated care has been taken with the expression of the words… It is vividly coloured, and certainly more entertaining than the blurred grey of scholarly caution’ Early Music magazine, February 1988 (Vol. 1)