Thanksgiving Treat: Vivaldi’s Four Seasons

Much like my wife’s bacon stuffing at Thanksgiving, this list would not be complete without Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, easily the most famous work of the Baroque Era, despite first entering the modern repertoire in the 1950s. It is an endlessly fun piece to play. First, let’s start with a very historically accurate performance. By all means, listen to the whole thing, but here’s a good example of the Winter concerto on period instruments

Antonio Vivaldi, The Four Seasons, Concerto No. 4, Winterhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZPdk5GaIDjo

Again, demonstrating how Vivaldi is timeless, here is the violinist Janine Janson throwing out the Baroque sensibility in one of the more dramatic readings of the piece.  The entire thing is great fun, but I’ll note that the Winter concerto starts at 32:05. Janson recorded this with some of her friends in what is one of the most fun classical albums of the last 20 years.  Worth seeking out.

Antonio Vivaldi, The Four Seasonshttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zzE-kVadtNw&list=PLRpIGxVONOlCHMg9kAcpxmSZ7j33klKCT

Transcriptions are the most formal sort of Conversation—the transcription of an earlier work for a new instrument or set of instruments by a later composer.  Bach did tons of these and so we can trace which composers influenced him at certain periods of his life.  The great Romantic composer Franz Liszt (we will come to him later) was also fond of transcriptions.  Few composers opt to fully recompose the original while retaining so much of it.  Here is one unique offering:  The Four Seasons transcribed by Max Richter and recomposed over 200 years later.  The first movement of Winter is particularly inspiring:

Max Richter, Four Seasons Recomposed (After Vivaldi): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UYs2xShj1ZI

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