⇠ Back to Blog:Felipe III 6, 6B

Of all the concerts of classical music that can be played in open air, no piece is more suitable than the pagan Carmina Burana to perform in the Plaza Mayor of Madrid.

For some pretexts which I have already forgotten (one having to do with the end of Summer, the other with something more ludicrous), Madrid's city hall nevertheless graced its most precious square with a free concert of classical music, performed by the Orquesta y Coro de RTVE under the direction of Juanjo Mena.

Orff's masterpiece is not my favorite composition but it is definitely the most appropriate for such an exaltation in the open air, where, just like in the time of the Arrabal, people not only sit and listen, but pass by, speak to each others, shout if they are too distant, whistle, eat in profusion, drink while they eat, drink before that, drink after that, or, for that matter, even without that.

This is, therefore, bringing together the creme of the sophistication, the gifted artists, the genius director, the orchestra in all its complexity together with the People, in their most popular expression.

From our point of view, that, is from above, the Plaza Mayor is a gigantic sound box, that echos the bass and the alto just like it does the clinging plates and the barking dogs. It is really impressive to witness the marriage of these two universes: the crass of the crowd and the refinement of the orchestral composition. This is where Orff's fury is at its best. One has to see O Fortuna literally mash the background noise, pound the noisy egos, silence the populace and empty the chaos from everything but the bursting and perfect interpretation. Whenever the energy damps down, as Orff likes to do, you can then realize that the Plaza was still breathing, and, encouraged by the music becoming a murmur, regain in intensity of its purposeless noise to fight to the artists their right to make the Plaza speak.

I will upload, of course, our recording of O Fortuna, but I wanted as an appetizer to first show you Tanz, with as little editing as possible (none beside the superimposed text). It somehow renders this feeling I tried to convey where the street and the stage mix or on the contrary eat each others. The zoom is kept on the director, who is literally tanzing. I love the expression of the second row cellist in front of him, with her mysterious smile, frozen either by concentration or by beauty.

Tanz has been a familiar song since childhood, since it used to be the opening song of a crafted documentary, Histoires naturelles, on a rather unromantic topic: hunting and fishing. The content did not appeal particularly to me although it was bucolic and captivating. The song, on the other hand, was putting me in a trance, with the prehistoric painting, it was evoking something from another age, another culture, something truly paganic, not barbaric for it was beautiful, but of a different age and wisdom.

On the YouTube comments of the videos recreating this atmosphere, I can read that most people associate this song with nightclubs, since the show was displayed late at night (or very early in the morning). This is another manifestation of how fitting is Orff's music to play for the profanes. As for me, not only I did not have the age to visit such places, but I would never do so baring a couple of times for curiosity, at an age almost too old to be allowed in.

As the son of a baker, however, a traditional one who started working at eight in the evening till the same number twelve hours later, I had the chance to live part of my childhood during the night as well, and developed from the beginning of my free will the habit of waking up in the middle of the night to visit my father, an habit that my parents could never prevent nor successfully forbid. After being bored of bothering my father, I would go to grab something to eat and look at the TV, and look without understanding the political debates and the news replayed at such times when nobody was looking. But on some occasions, I would also meet with the great music of Orff in a privileged and essentially unspoiled way (unlike O Fortuna which I most certainly met through tad adverts, associating the song with nonsense).

Listening to Tanz in the Plaza mayor, mixing the divine with the ordinary, is the opening of a door of a time travel machine.