Recorded on 10/01/2010, uploaded on 10/01/2010
Musician's or Publisher's Notes
Live in Prague world premère
The four concertos known as The Four Seasons are Antonio Vivaldi’s best-known works. Composed in 1723 and published two years later in Amsterdam, they are actually part of Vivaldi’s larger opus 8, entitled Il cimento dell'armonia e dell'invenzione (The Contest Between Harmony and Invention), a set of twelve concerti for solo violin, string orchestra and continuo. A unique aspect of The Four Seasons is the sonnets Vivaldi supplied as an aid to the scenes depicted in the works. The author of the sonnets is unknown and it is possible that Vivaldi himself may have written them. Each divides neatly into three sections, correspondingly exactly to the three movements of each concerto.
In the last concerto of The Four Seasons is portrayed the bleak and harsh landscape of winter. The first movement, in F minor, begins ominously with discords building into a brilliant passage for the soloist. According to Vivaldi’s sonnet we are hearing the chill of the winter wind, the chattering of teeth and people running and stomping their feet in futile attempts to keep warm. The Largo second movement changes to a warm E-flat major. The soloist presents a beautiful melody, depicting a warm and cozy fire, while a pizzicato accompaniment in the violins represents the icy rain falling outside. Finally, the last movement begins with a precarious melody over a long-sustained tonic pedal, which Vivaldi tells us is a dangerous trek across an icy path. The people fall and then quickly run before the icy cracks. The music becomes more furious and aggressive towards the end of the movement as the north winds blow in, at war with one another. Joseph DuBose
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