Dartington Community Choir Spring Concert 2018
Sunday May 6, 2018 at 7.30pm,
Great Hall, Dartington
Ernst Toch’s Geographical Fugue
Percussion Set: Philip Glass Mad Rush; Jason Treuting Extremes
Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana
Conductor Simon Capet
Pianists: Clare Talbot and Kristian Lindberg
Percussion ensemble: Quartet19 and Harriet Riley
Soloists: Milly Forrest (soprano), Robert Jenkins (tenor) and Julian Chou-Lambert (baritone)
Dartington Community Choir’s performance of Mendelssohn’s Elijah in December met with critical acclaim and the choir will seek to build further on this success in its next concert in May.
Carl Orff’s oratorio Carmina Burana is one of the best-known pieces of 20th century music.
First performed in 1937 in Frankfurt and approved by the Nazis as an alternative to what they saw as decadent avant-garde music, it has survived this taint to be much loved by audiences of all kinds, including heavy metal groups, rappers and advertising directors. With Handel’s Messiah it is one of the most widely performed oratorios ever written.
Carmina Burana was the name given to a collection of mediaeval poems discovered by a 19th century scholar in a Benedictine monastery in Bavaria. Mostly in Latin, with some in mediaeval German and Old Provencal, the verses deal with all kinds of human emotion, from the elevated to the remarkably bawdy. Entranced, Orff turned 24 of the poems into a huge emotional response in music and drama to the extreme ups and down of life – the Wheel of Fortune.
After the famous introduction about Fortuna, or Fortune, Empress of the World, there are three subject sections entitled Spring, In the Tavern, and Love. Exuberant, loud, spiritual, intense, hypnotic, joyful, crude, furious, raucous and unforgettable, the work creates an almost physical roller coaster of emotion.
Deliberately emphasising the folk power of rhythm and percussion, Orff also created extremely difficult parts for the soloists, taking them to the extremes of their ranges.
Echoes of Stravinsky and of Gregorian plainchant are intertwined dramatically with hints of the late Renaissance and early Baroque and with strong, simple melodies. As celebrated conductor Marin Alsop has said, the work is “a real blast….”.
Carmina Burana was originally scored for a very big orchestra and huge choir, with a particularly large percussion section and all kinds of theatrical effects.
In an arrangement by Orff’s disciple Wilhelm Killmayer, and approved by the composer for smaller performances, the choir’s performance will be accompanied by two grand pianos, and a percussion group comprising Quartet19 and Devon’s own Harriet Riley.
Preceding the main section of the concert, the choir will perform Ernst Toch’s Geographical Fugue for Speaking Chorus. Composed only a couple of years before Orff’s Carmina Burana, this very short work is spoken, not sung.
Like Orff, Toch was interested in easily accessible music – then called “Gebrauchsmusik” or practical music, of which this is an example, being easy to follow. Few spoken choral works are still performed these days, but Geographical Fugue has remained popular, perhaps because of its slightly comical tone.
The first half will further comprise two percussion works performed by Quartet19, a dynamic percussion ensemble based in Cardiff.
Tickets (£18 (unreserved); students & U16s £7.50) are available from Dartington Box Office 01803 847070 or on-line www.dartington.org/whats-on
Philip R Buttall
image: Harriet Riley
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