Herbert Kegel conducts Carl Orff
Born in Munich in 1895, Carl Orff is one of the 20th century’s most fascinating creators of music. He is famed for his “Carmina Burana”, a work of dazzling brilliance. It forms part of his triptych Trionfi alongside “Catulli Carmina” and “Trionfo di Afrodite”, each of which is equally represented in this edition under the musical direction of Herbert Kegel. Die Kluge is a modern fairy-tale in the manner of a Brechtian moral fable, telling the story of a king, a peasant and the peasant’s clever daughter. The recording is one of the most important in the extensive ETERNA catalogue and remains a benchmark to this day on account of its sound quality and musical interpretation.
The conducting repertoire of Herbert Kegel was so wide-ranging and its special features so unusual that it would be difficult to “sell” him as a specialist for a single composer or a particular era of musical history – indeed, it is tempting to label him a “specialist for everything”, which may sound contradictory, but sums up his abilities in a way that would be suitable for very few other conductors.
Kegel’s series of Carl Orff recordings – Carmina Burana being a work he recorded twice for ETERNA – seems out of place (from today’s conventional box-ticking perspective) for a conductor known for his passionate commitment to the modernist works of the Second Viennese School, works he successfully championed in the GDR, as is to be seen – in premiere recordings, of course – from their copious documentation in the catalogue of the state-owned VEB Deutsche Schallplatten record company. Herbert Kegel’s aesthetic horizon crossed borders of every kind and made no compromises in its expansiveness. The same painstaking refinement that he applies to Webern’s filigree textures is prominent in his treatment of Carmina Burana, often presented as a larger-than-life audience-friendly “showpiece”, but here endowed with a rarely experienced aura of ritual solemnity and seriousness.