May 22: Virtuoso Voices

Saturday 22 May 2021 (7.30pm)
Michael Fowler Centre, Wellington

We join Orchestra Wellington for a virtuoso evening.
Cantata Profana — BÉLA BARTÓK
Carmina Burana — CARL ORFF

Béla Bartók’s large-scale Cantata Profana written for tenor, baritone, double mixed choir and orchestra tells the story of a father and his nine sons, who go out to hunt a stag but are themselves transformed into deer in the process. The work, subtitled “The Magical Deer”, was written in 1930 and inspired by Romanian Christmas stories, using pagan and mythological motifs to combine natural, didactic and symbolic elements in the story. The strictly rhythmic narration of the choir and the sharp, melismatic statements of the soloists form a multi-facetted contrast.

Carmina Burana opens with one of the most famous passages in classical music as the massed choir chants “O Fortuna” at full volume over an accompaniment of orchestral power chords while the timpani pound out a beat like the engine room of the Titanic. It would be a jaded listener indeed who could resist this excitement.But the work offers a great deal more than that. Orff chose a variety of texts ranging from witty to wistful from the Codex Buranus, a curious collection of 11th century
Latin poems found in a Bavarian monastery.

They were written by medieval monks who were well-travelled, worldly, educated and rather subversive. Their poems celebrate the arrival of Spring, the pleasures of wine, riotous tavern scenes and the joys and sorrows of love. Orff’s music sparkles with imagination and theatricality, contrasting exquisite vocal solos with powerful orchestral and choral climaxes.

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