Carl St. Clair Opens His 30th Season Leading Pacific Symphony with the Elegance and Power of Beethoven and Orff’s Carmina Burana
This weekend was a treat for the senses with director Carl St. Clair opening his 30th season with Pacific Symphony performing at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts on Saturday, September 28th, 2019.
World-renowned, Carl St. Clair, conducted the Pacific Symphony and Chorale at the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall this weekend including works from Beethoven, “Egmont” Overture and “Choral” Fantasy and a celebration of nature, love, and lust with Carl Orff’s popular Carmina Burana which originally premiered in 1937.
St. Clair breezes through Beethoven’s Overture which was originally the instrumental to a ballet, opera or oratorio in the 17th century and designed to be played at the head of a program. “Choral” Fantasy served as the concluding work for a benefit concert that Beethoven put on for himself in 1808; performers consisted of vocal soloists, chorus, an orchestra, and Beethoven himself as piano soloist. The Fantasy was meant to include all the participants and unites all musical forces together and the Pacific Symphony and Chorale did not disappoint with their superior vocals and ingenious ensemble in this paramount performance.
Carmina Burana’s wheel of fortune was spinning around and around, and with anyone’s luck, it could have them at the very top of society one moment and sliding down to the other in the blink of any eye. This masterpiece was given life with an astounding performance at the beautiful concert hall with its most sophisticated acoustics. The performance had some shedding a tear at the emotional rollercoaster of this timeless classic.
Carmina Burana is performed in three sections including Springtime, In the Tavern and The Court Of Love. preceded by and ending with Fortune. Benjamin Pasternack was a delight on piano. American, Celena Shafer’s soprano voice enveloped attendees as she longed for love and eventually fell into the arms of Canadian baritone, Hugh Russell. Hugh Russell’s performance of Estuans Interius was commanding. Christopher Pfund garnered laughter with his brilliant tenor performance as a fowl being grilled and feasted upon, while innocence was reclaimed by the Southern California Children’s Chorus.
Sunday’s matinee of O Fortuna! was a more relaxed setting than the previous night but there was no shortage in quality. It was an opportunity to focus on the little things you may have missed in the opening night performance of Beethoven and the full version of Carmina Burana. St. Clair gave a little background on O Fortuna! at the show’s opening and ended with numerous standing ovations. Overall the three performances were a sheer delight and we will be attending more Pacific Symphony productions and shows at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts throughout the season.
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