Carl Orff: In Trutina
Composed between 1935-36, Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana was described by the composer as a “scenic cantata.” Based on 24 poems from the medieval collection with the same name, Carmina Burana is a large-scale 25-movement work. Generally the cantata is considered to be heavily influenced by Renaissance and Baroque models, originally formed by the likes of Monteverdi and Byrd. However, the orchestration is more favourable of 20th Century works such as Stravinsky’s Les noces.
Scored for large orchestra, solo voices, SATB mixed chorus, a children’s choir and two pianos, it premiered on 8th June 1937 under the baton of Bertil Wetzelsberger. The premiere was a roaring success and shot Orff into European popularity over night. He famously contacted Schott Music, who had been publishing his music up until this point:
“Everything I have written to date, and which you have, unfortunately, printed, can be destroyed. With Carmina Burana, my collected works begin.”
More performances of Carmina Burana were held across Germany, with even the Nazi regime embracing the work after initial hesitations. The work became one of the most famous pieces of music in Germany at that time, which continued after the war where it has still upheld its position in classical repertoire.
Featuring as the 21st song in the cycle, In Trutina is a song written for a love-stricken soprano who is wavering between wanton love and chastity. As a stand-alone work, In Trutina is a rather ambiguous work for soprano and chamber ensemble. However, within the context of Carmina Burana, the true intentions of the singer become much clearer.
The original text is in Latin (below are English translations):
In trutina mentis dubia
lascivus amor et pudicitia.
Sed eligo quod video,
collum iugo prebeo:
ad iugum tamen suave transeo.
In the wavering balance of my feelings
Set against each other
Lascivious love and modesty
But I choose what I see
And submit my neck to the yoke;
I yield to the sweet yoke.
This short song is full of emotion and lust from the singer, with her choosing love according to the next song in the cantata – Tempus est iocundum. The joyful celebrations of the next song show the soprano singing “totus floreo, iam amore virginali” (I am bursting with first love).
The sultry slow-moving accompaniment adds to the ebbs and flows heard through the soprano’s melodic lines. There is an earthliness about this song, with it referring to man on earth, rather than a religious figure. Contrary to popular belief, the manuscripts that were kept and eventually turned into the original Carmina Burana, were collected and sorted by monks in monasteries. However, the content of these songs and stories were created by university students and academics. So although they were kept in a sacred place, a large proportion of them aren’t about religion.
The soprano’s lilting quaver-driven line sets the scene at the start of the song as is then carried through for the rest of the song. Although only short in duration, the luscious writing from Orff makes it one of the stand-out works in Carmina Burana. The sense of fragility and perhaps even naivety plays a massive role in the portrayal of the woman. From the tender interactions with the accompaniment, to the subtle changes in the singer’s thought processes, In Trutina encapsulates the true beauty of love.
Composed as part of Orff’s Carmina Burana, In Trutina tells the tale of a woman deciding to choose love or chastity. The delicate accompaniment complements the emerging singer who tells us of her tale. Although only short, In Trutina will leave a lasting emotional impression on your for quite some time.
Ⓒ Alex Burns
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