Is it purely luck that determines our fortune in life? Carl Orff’s grand choral extravaganza, based on medieval poetry, Carmina Burana would seem to lead us to think so!
O Fortuna, velut Luna statu variabilis— O Fortune! Like the moon ever-changing, is a kind of pitiless reminder that when one feels at the very pinnacle of joy, Fate decrees that the only direction from there is down.
Carmina Burana has remained Orff’s one popular composition, and the only significant musical work to emerge from Nazi Germany that is still in the performing repertory. And on Sunday, February 12th, this 20th-century masterpiece will be the centerpiece of WRTI’s Philadelphia Orchestra in Concert broadcast, directed by Conductor-in-Residence Cristian Măcelaru, and featuring the Philadelphia Symphonic Choir, American Boychoir, and soloists, soprano Olga Podova (in her Philadelphia Orchestra debut), tenor Nicholas Phan, and baritone Stephen Powell.
Sunday's concert opens with an ebullient work that Beethoven composed while facing the enormous personal challenge of gradual hearing loss, his Symphony No. 2, at exactly the time he was confronting this crisis -- detailed so famously in his unsent letter to his brothers, the so-called “Heiligenstadt Testament.”
Despite the way we now hear it, however, Beethoven’s Symphony No. 2 initially challenged listeners. One critic remarked in 1804: “It is a noteworthy, colossal work, of a depth, power, and artistic knowledge like very few. It has a level of difficulty, both from the point of view of the composer and in regard to its performance by a large orchestra (which it certainly demands), quite certainly unlike any symphony that has ever been made known.” How hard it is to imagine the Beethoven of twenty-five years hence when listening to his 2nd symphony -- at age 31, and contemplating suicide!
During intermission, WRTI’s Susan Lewis will speak backstage with Maestro Măcelaru, and Debra Lew Harder will interview tenor Nicholas Phan.
Not to be missed, that’s Sunday, October 29th, here on WRTI 90.1 in Philadelphia, and streaming worldwide at wrti.org and on the WRTI app!
Beethoven: Symphony No. 2
Orff: Carmina Burana
Olga Podova, soprano
Nicholas Phan, tenor
Stephen Powell, baritone
The Philadelphia Symphonic Choir and The American Boychoir
Cristian Măcelaru, conductor
Listen to The Philadelphia Orchestra in Concert broadcasts every Sunday at 1 pm on WRTI 90.1 FM, online at WRTI.org, and on our new mobile app! Gregg Whiteside is producer and host.