Classical Music Concert

Thurston Moore, 12/2/14 Music Appreciation, Scott Zeidel Concert Report The music performance I chose to attend is Carmina Burana that took place atLa Verne Church of the Brethren on June 4, 2015. The concert – involved a great number of musicians and singers due to the scale of the work performed. Vocal part of Carmina Burana was performed by Kellogg Chamber Singers, University Concert Choir, Cal Poly Pomona Choral Alumni members, Pueri Cantores San Gabriel Valley Children’s Choir and the soloists – Lori Stinson (soprano), Stephen Anastasia (baritone) and Brandon Brack (tenor). Instrumental part of the work involved members of Kellogg Percussion Ensemble and the orchestra involving Michael Jung and Janet Noll. Naturally, the concert was entirely devoted to the cantata of Carl Orff (1895-1982) called Carmina Burana, which incorporates a prologue and three parts consisting of a number of musical movements.
The first movement I would like to describe is Veris Leta Facies, the movement immediately following the prologue and proceeding with its overall tone. According to the rules of Cantata genre, the movement focused mainly on vocal part, with the choirs being accompanied by the pianos and percussion ensemble. The mixed choir parties were mediated by piano and percussion ritornellos. The general atmosphere and tonality hinted at expressionistic coloring of Orff’s work, for the vocal parties sounded rather minor despite a rather lively ritornello at the beginning. Expressionistic nature of the composition was sensed also due to a slight dissonance between the lyrics (the translation of which is in the program) and the tone of music. Moreover, listening to the movement, I was able to identify an allusion to and imitation of medieval music with its simple tonalities and choral singing. Although the movement featured the mixed choir, it resembled much of the monophonic medieval Gregorian chants style. What is also notable about the whole concert and this movement in particular is that the instrumental accompaniment of the Cantata was performed by a minimal number of instruments. though – as far as I know – it is traditionally played with a wide variety of instruments including woodwind and brass sections.
The second movement I would like to write about is – no surprise – one of the most famous classical vocal pieces of nowadays, a movement framing Carmina Burana, its opening and closing. The movement was characterized by a steady rhythm supported by piano and a dramatic choral parties sung by the mixed choir. Approximately, in the middle of the piece, the powerful crescendo of percussion and vocals was heard, signifying intensification of rather grave emotional coloring. Further intensification of the volume and rhythm was observed for the rest of the movement, flowing into gradual fade-out in the end. In this movement, serious libretto portraying cruel and monstrous nature of fortune matches perfectly the tone of music. Again, the features of Gregorian chants were distinctively heard in the performance.
To describe my personal opinion of the concert, I would stress the brilliant way Carmina Burana fits in the period, when it was written, 1936, when the expressionism mirrored the minor and depressing nature of reality broken by the World War I. The overall mood of the music together with allusions to Gregorian chants and rough percussion crescendos fit perfectly in that period. At the same time, the wise and artful involvement of the minimum number of instruments is what impressed me, for the musicians managed to create the texture of the sound, which was no flatter than that in the performances involving big orchestras, which I skimmed through after attending the concert for comparison. Therefore, I would say that this concert is the decent interpretation of the powerful and magnificent vocal piece written by Orff almost a century ago.