09 February 2015

Beethoven's 9th Symphony in D minor + Orff's Carmina Burana

So we went to the Philharmonie yet again. This time, we attended the performance of the Czech Symphony Orchestra, under the direction of Petr Chromczak. They were performing Ludwig van Beethoven's 9th Symphony in D Minor, which while I know bits and pieces of it, I haven't really heard the whole thing, as well as Carl Orff's Carmina Burana, which is a piece I am familiar with. In fact, this was the fourth time I have listened to Carmina Burana live. The first time was in 2006 in Prague, the second time was in 2009 in Buffalo, and the third time was two years after that. Needless to say, I am a big fan of this piece.

I have to say that I am not a big fan of Beethoven. I can recognize his music with the dynamic changes in volume; Beethoven's compositions are massive, and the 9th is no exception. That being said, I enjoyed this piece. After listening to this symphony, which lasts more than an hour long, I thought that this is indeed Beethoven's magnum opus. I almost felt like saying "Oh, now that you've composed the 9th, you can now die."

After the pause, the orchestra performed Carmina Burana. While I enjoyed this performance, I thought that it wasn't the best performance I have seen. They played it too fast and with too much drama. I felt like the "O Fortuna" sequence was played too fast, and I really wanted to slow it down. The soloists, while very good, were also more like actors, treating the piece more like an opera, when in reality, it is simply a cantata, and I didn't like it. That being said, the orchestra and the conductor definitely knows the piece very well, as evidenced by the fact that the conductor actually conducted the piece without any musical score in front of him, and only conducting it from memory. That was definitely impressive.

Overall, however, I still enjoyed the evening. It wasn't the best Carmina Burana performance, but it was still impressive. And I won't get tired of hearing this piece anytime soon.

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