Wednesday, 15 May 2013

2. Vivaldi Four Seasons

Antonio Vivaldi

The Four Seasons by Vivaldi will be instantly familiar to many of you. In this post, I will introduce you to an incredible recording that will make you hear and discover these pieces anew.

Antonio Vivaldi (1678-1741) (nicknamed the red priest due to his red hair) was an Italian composer. His most popular work, The four seasons (or for the fancy amongst you Le quattro the pizza) are the first four violin concertos of a larger set of 12 concertos called Il cimento dell'armonica e dell'inventionae (the combat between harmony and invention). Each concerto is named after a season and attempts to musically depict scenes for each season. A concerto is an orchestral work with typically one instrument featuring as a soloist, consisting of three movements, usually fast-slow-fast. In this case, the violin, arguably the king of all instruments because of it's ability to imitate the human voice, is the featured solo instrument.

Vivaldi Four Seasons Fabio Biondi Europa Galante

The four seasons are as follows (track 1-12):
Concerto No. 1 Spring
1. Allegro (Fast, quickly and bright)
2. Largo (Broadly)
3. Allegro (Fast, quickly and bright)

Concerto No.2 Summer
1. Allegro non molto (Fast, quickly and bright, but not too much)
2. Adagio – Presto (Slow and stately - Very fast)
3. Presto - Storm (Very fast)

Concerto No. 3 Autumn
1. Allegro (Fast, quickly and bright)
2. Adagio molto (Very slow and stately)
3. Allegro (Fast, quickly and bright)

Concerto No. 4 Winter
1. Allegro non molto (Fast, quickly and bright, but not too much)
2. Largo (Broadly)
3. Allegro (Fast, quickly and bright)

By far my favourite performance of these works are by Italian violinist Fabio Biondi and Europa Galante.
These performances are packed with excitement, focus and energy throughout, with playing that is crisp and articulate. For immediate gratification, try track 6: Presto from Summer, which depicts a  summer storm, with all the vigour and violence that you would expect. Each movement is no more than 5 minutes, making these works easier to get to know and love.

Links to the recording:
Spotify (track 1-12)

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