Love, Lust, and Light: A Valentine’s Day Concert @ Carnegie Hall, 2/14/10
A flock of love birds flooded the lobby of Carnegie Hall for Love, Lust, and Light: A Valentine’s Day Concert. Scheduled for 2PM, the concert just barely started on time due to the Will Call shuffle and the slow movements of couples with their heads in the clouds. Hand-holding and butterfly kisses ceased when the show opened with Morten Lauridsen’s “Lux Aeterna,” a 27-minute exploration of sacred Latin texts containing references to light. Guest Conductor Nancy Menk’s skillful guidance allowed the orchestra and chorale to seamlessly traverse Lauridsen’s unusual blend of chants, renaissance, polyphony, canons, and modern dissonance. The cohesive intermingling of unified voices and classical instruments resembled the dalliance of light itself.
After a brief intermission, the musicians returned to their places and the chorale members rearranged themselves. When the boom-crack of Carl Orff’s “Carmina Burana” erupted within the gorgeous confines of Carnegie Hall, some audience members were physically taken aback. This was the love and lust portion of the program. Sinister yet cinematic notes quickened the pulse while provocative lyrics were thrust forward by racy percussions. Derived from a manuscript of 250 medieval poems discovered in 1803, Orff’s inspired “Carmina Burana” explores the inherent human need for nature, wine, and sex. Varied like the text itself, scenes of “Carmina Burana” oscillated between light and playful to dark and brooding; Conductor Laureate Vance George demonstrated Orff’s foundation of melodic motives and rhythms instead of harmonic development. Usually a 65-minute foray, George broke up sections by addressing the audience. Though a woman sitting nearby expressed her discontent for this “interruption,” many more took comfort in George’s comments on the arts and request, “I ask you to dedicate this performance that you are enjoying to a special someone who is close to you. Wish that they be happy, be well, be safe, and live with ease. And wish it for yourself!”