Thursday, June 09, 2011

Haydn, Again

For Joshua and me, our concert season began last autumn with a significant dose of Haydn—four symphonies, two performed by The Handel And Haydn Society and two performed by the Boston Symphony—and it will end on Saturday night with a performance of Haydn’s final mass, Mass No. 14 (“Harmoniemesse”), to be performed by the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra.

Both Twin Cities orchestras will end their subscription seasons this coming weekend, and both ensembles will feature important choral works in their final programs.

In addition to the SPCO concluding its season with the Haydn Harmoniemesse, the Minnesota Orchestra will close its season with Orff’s “Carmina Burana”.

Josh and I shall skip the Orff. Unlike many music lovers, I do not despise and I do not disparage the Orff—I think it is a magnificent piece of music—but I am not in the mood to hear “Carmina Burana” and Josh is not in the mood to hear “Carmina Burana”.

My parents are not in the mood to hear “Carmina Burana”, either—and they have given their subscription tickets to my older brother and my sister-in-law, who shall go to the concert tomorrow night in my parents’ stead. It is not often that my older brother and my sister-in-law attend orchestral concerts, but I believe they will enjoy “Carmina Burana”. As for us, my parents and Josh and I shall have the pleasure of keeping my nephew and niece while their parents have a rare night out.

My parents, who very seldom attend SPCO concerts, want to hear the Harmoniemesse. They will join Josh and me for the Saturday night concert in Saint Paul.

We will probably not attend any Minnesota Orchestra summer concerts. Only one event, the concert presentation of Richard Strauss’s “Der Rosencavalier”, holds some slight interest for us, but I believe we shall forego “Rosencavalier”. Minnesota Orchestra summer concerts are not fully rehearsed, the “Rosencavalier” conductor, Andrew Litton, is not noted for his Strauss interpretations, the singers engaged are unknown in the U.S. and enjoy only minor careers in Europe—and, above all, we are informed that the score to the opera will be cut. All of these factors make a concert presentation of Strauss’s opera unappealing.

For us, this may be a summer of musicals. Four local theater companies will mount musicals this summer, and we may attempt to catch them all: “A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum”, “Guys And Dolls”, “The Fantasticks” and “Oklahoma!”.

Three of the musicals will not be miked, and real instruments—and not synthesizers—will be used for orchestral support. As for the fourth musical, “Guys And Dolls”, we do not yet know the sound production policy for the show and we do not yet know the orchestral forces to be engaged.

Two reasons the American musical has died: cast members are outfitted with body microphones; and synthesizers are used instead of orchestras. In the Twin Cities, except for touring productions straight from Broadway, microphones and synthesizers are generally not utilized for musicals. This makes attending musicals in Minneapolis much more rewarding than attending musicals in New York.

Even the Guthrie Theater will offer a musical presentation this summer: a Gilbert And Sullivan operetta, “H.M.S Pinafore”. We may or we may not go.

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