Last night, I attended a performance of Carl Orff's Carmina Burana, a musical adaptation of a selection of poems from a medieval manuscript. Notably, the subject matter of these songs is secular, and the lyrics are in a variety of languages.
Perhaps the greatest pitfall facing any group which wishes to perform Carmina Burana is that the piece is somewhat bombastic in places... its "blood and thunder" can edge into cheese if the performers are not careful. The opener/closer of the piece, O Fortuna, (which is not to be confused with O Valencia!) has been used in numerous films and film trailers to signify "THIS IS EPIC!!!", to the extent that it verges on the hackneyed. It's even received the Tanzmusik treatment for all those rave-loving techno folks.
Last night's performance avoided the overdramatic cheese trap- the choral group was accompanied by two pianos and a battery of percussion- it was particularly amusing to see the gentleman who played the gong during O Fortuna switch to the triangle for the sprightlier pieces in the middle of the performance. As an added "ace in the hole", the director had craftily placed a youth choir in the balcony, and they made their debut during Chramer Gip die Varwe Mir... well played, maestro! The soloists were sublime, and the chorus gave an excellent ensemble performance. It was a good night out, although getting my ass to work afterwards was no pick-a-nick.
As a kooky aside, I have to say that O Fortuna, with its soft/loud/soft sonic palette, reminded me of a Pixies' song:
Can't let all of the high culture I've indulged in get to my head now, can I?
Postscript: I have to try to convince my co-worker to persuade the choral director to do a concert consisting of Pixies' tunes.