The Four Seasons

TUESDAY, December 24, 2019

Popular for 294 years, but also forgotten for awhile…

The first recording may be from 1939, but the details are not clear, and it seems to have come from a French radio broadcast. The Four Seasons was very popular when Vivaldi wrote it. Yet Vivaldi’s music fell into relative obscurity for around 200 years, and in fact he died without a cent to his name. His music was losing relevance before he died, although from what I’ve read JS Bach was very interested in Vivaldi’s music, enough to transcribe some of his compositions.

Credit to Bach…

Bach may have helped spark the 20th century revival of his music, which becomes especially interesting because Bach’s music started to fall into relative obscurity until Mendelssohn and others helped the world rediscover his music.

No credit to critics…

So much music would have been lost without the support of other musicians who always seem to recognize genius when everyone else misses it – unlike critics, who usually are too stupid to recognize genius until the rest of the world figures it out first.

After WWII…

The first recording actually made as a recording was in 1942. The first American recording was in 1947, and this recording seemed to have sparked the beginning of a swell in popularity which remains to this very day.

According to IMDb, there have been at least 100 different films and television shows that have used Vivaldi’s Four Seasons in some way, so picking a performance was not easy.

You need a recording that does not sound old…

I wanted to find something special, because most of the recordings I’ve heard sound safe, predictable and rather boring.  I did some research, sort of invading the world of “Vivaldi freaks”, then listened. This particular recording just sounded so fresh and so full of energy that for me it was like hearing it for the first time. It has a bit of that modern “let’s play Baroque music the way they did” sound, which sometimes fails utterly, but this one works for me brilliantly. It has great energy. It’s not swollen with two many instruments. There’s no ultra-Romantic string vibrato, the dynamic contrast is excellent, and it just has “moxie”.  Rather than sounding old and dead, it sounds new and vital. Instead of being played like boring background music, the kind we are tortured with on the phone when put on hold, it is totally alive and sort of demands to be listened to.

And now a great recording…

 

 

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6 thoughts on “The Four Seasons

  1. There is too much to like to put it into words. That performance seems to combine the best of two worlds of the old and new. I think parts of the “summer” have always been my favourite.

    I noticed that when you click on the Youtube choice, somebody a bit further down gives a link to each section so you can jump straight to that one.

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