Saturday, March 30, 2019

Poems From The Middle Ages Set To Music in Orff's Epic Cantata, Carmina Burana

This Saturday night the fetching Mrs. B and I will be in for a treat for a special concert in Houston's Jones Hall as Carl Orff's epic haunting cantata, Carmina Burana will be performed by our Grammy Award winning Houston Symphony Orchestra [and chorus].

This from Wikipedia: "Carmina Burana is a scenic cantata composed in 1935 and 1936 by Carl Orff, based on 24 poems from the Medieval collection Carmina Burana."  "The first and last movements of the piece are called "Fortuna Imperatrix Mundi" ("Fortune, Empress of the World") and start with the very well known "O Fortuna"."  "The selection covers a wide range of topics, as familiar in the 13th century as they are in the 21st century: the fickleness of fortune and wealth, the ephemeral nature of life, the joy of the return of Spring, and the pleasures and perils of drinking, gluttony, gambling, and lust."  

In the first half of the concert program, our beloved principal cellist, Briton Averil Smith, will be soloist in D'Albert's cello concerto.  I talked about this concerto in this post here.

From the Houston Symphony Orchestra web site: "Bold and bawdy, fiery and visceral, Carmina Burana is one of the most instantly-recognizable pieces in all of music. Escape into this intoxicating ode to life, lust and all things earthy, an unforgettable concert experience that thrills with haunting medieval chants, dynamic spectacle and sheer sonic force. Plus, Principal Cellist Brinton Averil Smith takes center stage for d’Albert’s lyrical concerto."

As always, when we go to a Houston Symphony Orchestra concert I like to give you some of what we will be hearing on Saturday night.  Carmina Burana is a very long piece of 25 movements that takes just over an hour to perform, here is a great performance of it in the BBC Proms in 1994.  This piece starts out strong and exciting and ends strong and exciting as probably the most popular movements in this long piece are the first two and the last two, with the O Fortuna (reprise) climax that will have audience come to their feet with a loud ovation when finished.  The first movement is the well known "O Fortuna" theme that you will know even if you have never heard Carmina Burana.  The second movement in this video,  " Fortune une plango vulnera" goes from 6:21 -9:05.  The 24th movement, Ave Formosissima" begins at 1:03:52, with the final exciting movement, O Fortuna (reprise) starting at the 1:05:57 mark.

Please turn up the volume, play in full screen and enjoy. 

Carl Orff: Carmina Burana:

Eugen D' Albert: Cello Concerto in C Major, Movement 3, Allegro vivace:

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