Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Carmina Burana in Kitchener

Maestro Edwin Outwater will close the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony season by conducting an exciting performance of Carmina Burana this week. However, in his complementary blog post, he confesses:
It’s epic, it will have the Grand Philharmonic choir, three great Canadian soloists, and more! It will sell a lot of tickets, people will dig it. There’s just one problem.

I kind of detest Carmina Burana.

He totally makes make me want to go Canada for this performance.


Gavin Plumley said...

People have a very strange relationship with that piece... but I, for one, adore it. Its invention, sense of drama and fun and the orchestrations make for a thrilling ride. Orff had a troubled past with the Nazis, but then so did Strauss... we don't turn off when the Four Last Songs come on the radio, do we?!

David Lasson said...

I first encountered this fraught piece as a member of the children's chorus for a performance mounted by the Boston Ballet in the early '70's. Let me tell you: for a middle school kid, that piece was thrilling (as was the soprano soloist, Deborah O'Brien, aka Miss Massachusetts, 1971). These days? Well, Carmina's a good way to put an orchestra, chorus, and concert hall through their respective paces, I suppose. Although I still like the piece, I'm not sure that I could defend my liking it on purely musical grounds; but, as Plumley implies, if we can dislike a piece for extra-musical reasons, we can certainly like one for same. Is an early performance experience during my formative years--to say nothing of a peck on my adolescent cheek from Miss Massachusetts--still able to prevent me from assessing this piece accurately after all these decades?

y2k said...

It's interesting to see how different people react to this piece. If you ask me 10 or more years ago, I'd say I like Carmina Burana. Now? I wouldn't go to a concert of it even if you pay me. Maybe it's the widespread use of its music in everyday life that put me off.

OTOH, I can listen to Pachelbel's Canon a thousand times and not be sick of it. But I know some musicians (esp chamber music group) who hate hate hate it.

Axel Feldheim said...

For some of us, Carmina Burana is one of the more absurd manifestations of the type of piece that seems designed to fill up seats by putting lots of people on stage & making a big noise. Yet in the same spirit I quite admire Mr. Plumley's unabashed adoration. Mr. Lasson has also given me a new way to enjoy the piece. I will now need to imagine Miss Massachusetts (1971), surrounded by middle school children, the next time I hear it. It seems I will unfortunately not be running into Y2K at a performance of Carmina Burana any time soon. While I do not hate Pachelbel's Canon, I am one of those high school string players who definitely got over-exposed to it well before the age of 18. said...

I loved CB when I was in high school. In college I was happy to play it. But now? Now I really can't stand it. But of course if I'm hired to play it I do the best I can ... the same way I'd put all my energy in to the Franck d minor symphony even though I can't stand the piece. Go figure.

I tell my students, who frequently complain about a piece they have to play, that they are allowed to hate it before and after, but on stage they'd better give it all they've got ... and never let their disdain be known to the audience. It's sometimes a challenge, but it's what has to be done. Sometimes it gets rather painful and embarrassing. (Once, as I was walking out of the hall after a particularly awful concert, an audience member said, "Now THAT is good music. They should do that ALL the time!" Sigh.)

I did write a sonnet about this once, called "Services Rendered" ... (and no, I'm not really a poet ... but I go ahead and foolishly dabble in it anyway).

Ramble ramble ... (I have a free Saturday ...). ;-)

Axel Feldheim said...

Thanks for those frank & interesting comments. I think this is one of the issues that Maestro Outwater raises: What to do, as a performer, when faced with a piece that you don't like, especially as a performance is ultimately judged on the artist's sense of involvement. I guess you are saying that you put on a good show either way. It is also interesting that there is often a huge gap between the experience of the performer & the experience of the audience. Perhaps it is best for us in the audience that we don't know what the performers really think!

& what a cynical poet you are!