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Gregory Vajda guest conducted the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra during its season finale performance of “Carmina Burana.” PHOTO COURTESY RPO

Getting medieval with Orff Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra WITH ROCHESTER ORATORIO SOCIETY AND BACH CHILDREN’S CHORUS REVIEWED THURSDAY, JUNE 4 RPO.ORG [ REVIEWS ] BY DAVID RAYMOND

Choral groups have few blue-chip certainties in the 20th-century repertoire, but Carl Orff’s “Carmina Burana” is definitely one of them. With music that has been pilfered for movies, commercials, video games, rock albums, and sitcom episodes, Orff’s “scenic cantata” always draws a crowd — and the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra and the Oratorio Society surely counted on that for its season finale. The full orchestra, choristers of all ages, and three soloists crammed the Kodak Hall stage and poured out to the boxes to present this ever-popular salute to wine, women, and (lest we forget) Fortune. It is based on 12th- and 13th-century poems, in Latin and medieval German, by wandering scholars and defrocked priests. 16 CITY JUNE 10-16, 2015

Their preoccupations were the eternal verities: drinking, enjoying nice weather, eating roast swan (see below) and, to quote one of the songs, “felix coniunctio”, which means just what you think it means. (The RPO program includes a booklet translating all the bawdy words). I believe Orff made up all his own tunes, and he produced some simple but stubborn earworms. Comparing higherminded 20th-century choral works like Stravinsky’s “Symphony of Psalms” or Britten’s “War Requiem” to “Carmina Burana” is like comparing filet mignon to a double cheeseburger — bearing in mind that a well-prepared cheeseburger may not be good for you, but it’s very tasty. Many fancy soloists and conductors like getting medieval with Carl Orff, and audiences love it when they do. (Take that, Stravinsky!) Leading a huge work like “Carmina Burana” must be like steering an 18-wheeler. This isn’t really a work that needs much “interpreting,” but a performance does need to be tight and exciting, and the chorus, soloists, and orchestra certainly delivered on Thursday

Profile for Rochester City Newspaper

June 10-16, 2015 - CITY Newspaper  

Greater Rochester's Alternative Newsweekly

June 10-16, 2015 - CITY Newspaper  

Greater Rochester's Alternative Newsweekly