Carl Orff is known mainly for Carmina Burana with the
other two works from Trionfi sometimes getting a look
in. It is rare for any of his other music to be performed.
But CD enables groups to do explorations that would not always
be possible live. In the late 1990s Winter & Winter issued
a disc which complemented Orff’s choral music with music by
those who had inspired him and by those inspired by him. Now
the Carl Orff Choir, under Robert Blank, has produced a disc
entitled Tempora, Alles hat seine Zeit which is a similar
voyage around Orff’s choral music.
this recital, Robert Blank has chosen to mix Orff’s choral
music with music by fellow composers with Munich connections. Max Reger was a fellow Bavarian and Orff
studied music with Anton Beer-Walbrun, a friend of Reger’s.
Harald Genzmer was a younger contemporary of Orff’s; though
Genzmer was influenced by Hindemith, he taught alongside the
Academy of Music in Munich and Orff’s vital rhythms can be
detected in Genzmer’s music. Hermann Regner worked alongside
Carl Orff; Regner was the professor of music education at
the Orff Institute of the Salzburg Mozarteum. Regner is also
the mentor of the Carl Orff choir. Wolfram Buchenberg is the
baby of the group, he met Orff at a choral rehearsal a year
before Orff’s death.
Carl Orff Choir is based in Marktoberdorf and is a chamber
choir of some thirty singers, most of whom started singing
in the local high school. Its conductor Robert Blank founded
the choir in 1994; the choir was originally called the Vocalensemble
Marktoberdorf. Blank created the choir to continue the work
of the Carl Orff Choir which had existed until 1992, directed
by Arthur Gross.
disc opens with two choruses from Monteverdi’s Orfeo,
sung in Orff’s rather effective a cappella arrangements.
The choir perform them with fine crisp tones and a good rhythms,
as befits a choir dedicated to Orff’s memory.
Um Mitternacht is a setting of the poem by Mörike and
Tristissima nox sets a German translation of a poem
by Manuel Gutierrez Najaer. Both Genzmer’s pieces display
an imaginative use of a basically tonal language. In Um
Mitternacht Genzmer creates a lovely, ethereal atmosphere.
Tristissima Nox is from a cycle of South American songs;
the choir is very attentive to the atmosphere of quiet intensity
created by Genzmer.
group perform only the first four of Reger’s 8 Geistliche
Gesänge. They sing them with warm rich tone; in the quiet
opening of No. 3 they achieve a lovely hushed intensity. Unfortunately
at other times the choir plods a little and I wanted a greater
sense of shape to the phrases and more of a sense of line.
Reger’s Oster-Motette is a charming piece with interesting
Fröhlicher Ostersang and Am Weynachtabend Hermann
Regner has expanded works by Orff. For Fröhlicher Ostersang
Orff wrote for single voice and instruments with a melody
that he found in the 1617 Speyer Song book. Both Fröhlicher
Ostersang and Am Weynachtabend were published in
their original forms in Orff’s Music for Children. Regner’s
a cappella choral versions expand on Orff’s textures,
but use the sort of rhythmic motifs which are familiar from
Orff’s work. It is a testament to Regner’s arrangements that
the final textures of the pieces resembles Orff’s own work.
own expansion of the plainchant Veni crator Spiritus
mixes plainchant with some interestingly spiky additions,
the result is rather haunting.
both Veni, sancte spiritus and Magnificat, Wolfram
Buchenberg was influenced by the plainchant originals. In
Veni, sancte spiritus he mixes some striking spiky
opening harmonies with Orff-like rhythmic elements. The result
is lovely, and the piece is given a fine, lively performance
by the choir. In Magnificat Buchenberg gives quasi
Gregorian phrases to the women’s voices, each individual singing
at their own tempo. The result is a gorgeous multi-voiced
texture. Buchenberg contrasts this with more homophonic sections
with luminous harmonies. Vidi calumnias et lacrymas
mixes some interesting note clusters with more traditional
harmony, to good effect. All three of Buchenberg’s pieces
receive outstanding performances from the choir.
was less taken with Herman Regner’s Alles zu seiner Zeit,
a group of six miniatures for mixed choir to poems by Catarina
Carsen. The piece was written for the Carl Orff Choir and
their performance is creditable, though perhaps a little too
dogged. Regner’s style owes much to German tradition and perhaps
those more sympathetic might admire these pieces more.
Das Wessobrunner Gebet Hermann Regner again expanded
on a piece by Carl Orff. Orff set the 9th century
prayer for unison choir. Regner expanded the text and wrote
his own continuation of the piece, expanding the whole for
mixed choir. The result has a coherency that belies its origins,
testament to Regner’s ability to meld with Orff’s style; the
piece mixes plainchant-like elements with more rhythmic sections,
all with a fine melodic felicity.
disc finishes with Orff’s Sunt lacrimae rerum, three
pieces for six-part male-voice chorus. Here, for the first
time on the disc, we enter completely the world of Carmina
Burana. All three pieces have the same concerns with rhythm
and repetition combined with melodic grace. In fact the faster
sections could come straight out of the Tavern sections of
Carmina Burana; but no matter, these are wonderfully
infectious works, infectiously sung. The choir are admirable
in the projection of the fast, tongue-twisting text; Orff
would have been proud of the way they bring the rhythmic elements
of the texts to the fore whilst not neglecting the vocal beauties
of the piece. It is a shame that the tenor soloist, Michael
Gann, has such an unfortunately tight voice; the baritone
and bass soloists (Rudolf Hillebrand and Ulrich Bayerhof)
a fascinating recital that enables us to explore Carl Orff’s
world. The programme itself would be recommendation enough,
but the Carl Orff Choir acquit themselves admirably in all
the works. To the Orff and Buchenberg pieces they bring that
something extra which makes the music stand out.