Carmina Burana comes to Pittsburgh
This weekend, conductor Rafael Fr?hbeck de Burgos led the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra and singers in expressing feelings that a college student will know all too well: College students should easily relate to Orff's sexually themed "Carmina Burana" and Mendelssohn's incidental music to [ITAL]A Midsummer Night's Dream[ITAL] about young love.
The Overture of [ITAL]Midsummer Night's Dream[ITAL] began with a tender for chords followed by blind, constant motion of the strings. Mendelssohn, who was only 16 when he composed this movement, was experiencing a teen's immature passion. A keen listener can easily pick up on the familiar feelings of a curious boy becoming a man.
The Scherzo was a more serious piece where the blossoming youth had decided to enter the world of love, and the strings let us know that he will not stop to think by continuing their movement. Next, in "Song for Chorus", the voices of Chen Reiss, Katy Shackleton Williams, and the Mendelssohn Choir blended wonderfully to announce that the boy had entered a world of fantasy. They let him know that love would give him feelings that are new and quite enjoyable.
The Intermezzo opened with confusion, as anxious thoughts were tossed back and forth between the winds and strings. The youthful boy leaves his lover in the night, and she is not sure whether to be worried or hurt. In "Nocturne," fears are put to rest. The horns play a duet that mimics the way the young lovers would make love in the still of the night. Warmth could be felt between the lovers when the orchestra played this movement. More passion from the horns put fears to rest, and the lovers knew they would lie happily together.
Everybody knows the Wedding March ? the one that is NOT "Here Comes the Bride" ? and each member of the brass section thoroughly enjoyed their five minutes of fame in this movement. Tuba player Craig Knox played especially well and really dug into the thirds of the secondary dominant chords. His passionate performance told the orchestra, "I'm going this way, and you'd better follow." And follow they did.
Carl Orff's [ITAL]Carmina Burana[ITAL] is about sex, sex, sex, and drinking. Any college student would be able to appreciate it.
The balance between the choir, soloist, and orchestra was usually perfect. On occasion, the horns were a little overpowering. This and the choice of using ecclesiastical Latin were the only things that could improve. The trumpets and flutes, though, had an exceptionally good performance ? articulation from the trumpets was always exactly together and every flute solo and duet was dripping with emotion.
If you have never heard [ITAL]Carmina Burana[ITAL] while reading the translation (or the original text, should you happen to be fluent in Latin and antiquated forms of German and French), I recommend doing so. Beuren's poems envoke how fortune can turn a king into a beggar or a swan into dinner with a flick of her finger ? and for this reason, we should enjoy life while we have the chance. They follow into a couple's mutual attraction, with neither aware of the other's feelings. When "lascivious love" becomes too powerful, they give in to sexual temptation.
Nmon Ford sang well as the man seeking love, but Reiss was simply incredible. She sang "[ITAL]In truitina[ITAL]" in the most purely irresistible way possible. Scott Scully's swan solo was also breathtaking. Certainly, every voice on stage did just what it had to in order to give a great performance.