The opening strains of Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana are among the most widely known motifs in Western music. Heard across all types of media, from films and TV series to advertisements and parody sketches, the portentous “O Fortuna” is an instantly recognizable shorthand for epic struggle, a pained cry against the ineluctable forces of fate.
Listeners unacquainted with the rest of Orff’s cantata might imagine more of the same, but among the medieval texts featured in the Carmina Burana—some dating back to the eleventh century—there are paeans to courtly love and carnal lust, odes to the changing of seasons, and bawdy songs about drinking and gambling. The cycle is interpreted here with gusto and grit by the Danish National Symphony Orchestra, led by Maestro Fabio Luisi and featuring world-class soloists Henriette Bonde-Hansen, Matthias Rexroth, and Markus Marquardt.
Shanghai Symphony Orchestra
Danish National Symphony Orchestra