Sunday, May 2, 2010

Akron Symphony: Carmina Burana

Bernstein: Fancy Free Ballet
Orff: Carmina Burana

My violin teacher had encouraged me to attend this evening's performance, headlined by Carl Orff's Carmina Burana. Given that I needed to be in Detroit immediately following tonight's concert, and that The Cleveland Orchestra is performing the same work next weekend--a concert I already have tickets for, and a programming decision that seems questionable on the part of whichever group was the last to announce their schedule--I had thought of skipping. I'm glad I didn't.

My last experience in E.J. Thomas Hall was on the main floor; this time through sheer luck* I wound up on the "Grand Tier" and it was much more acoustically satisfying.

Bernstein's Fancy Free Ballet was delightful, and it is a shame that this work isn't preformed more frequently. My first experience with a complete symphonic work performed live was Bernstein's Jeremiah (Symphony No. 1), and the second movement of that piece is still among my favorite movements. While selections from Bernstein's musicals get more play, I haven't felt the same affection towards them, so it was fantastic to hear another composition -- this, his first ballet commission, and I believe the only other non-musical Bernstein piece I've heard -- that was so fun to listen to.

Carmina Burana was likewise fantastic: I can't think of any other choral work I've heard performed that I'm actually looking forward to hearing a second time. The orchestra-only Dances movement was, I think, my favorite by a hair but the entire piece was well sung by the choir. The soloists (and the program is in my valeted car, so I cannot name them) left a bit to be desired; I alternated between thinking that each had good vocal presence and that their voices were lost among the instruments of the orchestra.

*- More precisely being handed a free ticket just before attempting to purchase one.

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