Intense: a word used so often but understood so little. There are many words which have been overused into meaninglessness and though “intense” certainly falls under that category of words, it is truly the only way to describe the grandeur and brilliance of the Carmina Burana.
With this in mind, all I can say is that The Seattle Symphony has does it once again. In my fourth opportunity to see the Carmina Burana at SSO I have for a fourth time been blown away. The Carmina Burana, in its first manifestation, is a collection of medieval poetry mostly in Latin and Old German compiled in the 13th century. In modernity, Carl Orff used a selection of the poetry in order to inspire and accompany a rich and powerful piece which he too titled The Carmina Burana. With the blasting, ominous roar of the infamous opening piece “O’ Fortuna” to playful melodies and romantic movements, the Carmina Burana is most certainly Orff’s magnum opus and a broad swath of intriguing and entertaining composition.
Though Carl Orff certainly gets a big tip of the hat, the standing ovation has to to Seattle Symphony. Too often a good piece of can be ruined by a bad interpretation, fortunately for us conductor Alexander Shelley delivers a fantastic performance with both zest and composure in leading the top notch performers of the Symphony and Chorale. Soprano Christina Siemens also deserves much commendation for the smooth and intense beauty of her singing, as do Baritone Michael Anthony McGee, and tenor Paul Karaitis for their exceptional and accessible interpretations. At the end of the day, the Carmina Burana conveys many different emotions throughout its poetic structure and having soloists with the capacity to show us, through the language barrier, what they are saying is a wonderful gift and the sign of a truly professional singer.
Together with such a tight ensemble, the Seattle Symphony has beautifully executed a complex piece. From the balance of the intensity of the music, instrumental sections, the radiance of the voices, and the uniqueness of the performances, it is safe to say the Carmina Burana is a Hollywood knock-out of a piece and is bound to please anyone, old or young, looking for a great night out.
Carmina Burana is closed.
Next up at Seattle Symphony: Casablanca and the Wizard of Oz.
More info at seattlesymphony.org