Antonio Vivaldi is an Italian composer and virtuoso violinist, who born in Venice in 1678. He wrote about five hundred pieces and became one of the most famous composers of the Baroque period. The first association that comes to our mind when we hear his name is his wonderful piece which is called “Fours seasons”. Not everyone knows that in his childhood Antonio was nicknamed as “Prete Rosso” that is verbatim translated as “red priest”. Since the early age he was surrounded by nature, beauty, appeasement and service of God, exactly this was the main factor of his addiction to the goodness. Spotless soul and love to the nature made him to create great pieces and most of them contain the title related to the nature, e.g. “Autumn”, “Winter”, “Summer”, “Spring”, “Night” and “Beauties”.
“Four seasons” is a combination of four violin concertos, composed in the 17th century by Antonio Vivaldi. It relates to the number of the most popular musical pieces written in the classical repertoire. The texture of concerts is variegated and distinguished by its originality: each of them characterizes certain mood and creates peculiar stories, which relate to the different seasons: winter, spring, summer and autumn. Not only the contrast of mood, rhythm and dynamic is noticed in the piece, but also the rational use of logic to music, the composer was able to unite the emotional range of very different from first sight concertos and combine them into one whole piece.
Four concertos are put together with the specific sequence. It means that the composer was first who used not typical and standard for that period of time three-movement pattern, to be precise fast-slow-fast combination of rhythm. . As we know “Four Seasons” is divided into four sections, and each of them has its own stylistic texture. While listening the Summer piece we notice a great speed of performance in the beginning, which is slowing down in the middle part and then again gathering the tempo at the end, it is like a heartbeat which quickens while we feel something unexplainably good and then it becomes slower and slower with each disappointment occupying our soul. The texture of this concert is characteristically to polyphonic, while the “Autumn” part relates to the homophonic texture. The second movement, which is called “Winter” makes us plunge into melancholy, it fills our hearts with the feeling of loneliness, sadness and emptiness. It is slower than two previous pieces and includes consonant monotonic tempo. On the contrary, the movement which is called “Spring” is very lively; it creates a positive mood and fills us with the state of amorousness and some kind of vivacity. As the sun wakes up in the morning and illuminates the world with the beauty of the dawn, the music “illuminates” the darkness of our daily life with unrepeatable and indescribable feelings.
The original piece which I listened was very different from the new one which was performed by Fabio Biondi. Vivaldi’s “Four seasons” was performed with a solo violin and string quartet (violin, viola, cello) and basso continuo (cello or double bass and harpsichord). On the contrary, the creative cover by Biondi was done with the help of solo violin and string orchestra, which included violins, violas, celli, double basses and inimitable harpsichord. Not only the using of the instruments, but also the whole structure and texture within the dynamic and rhythm was very differing from the original piece. First of all, the whole piece was composed in polyphonic style and the 3-note rhythmic idea was not complied. Secondly, the tempo was not so contrastive: it was not so lively and quickly (only in some of the parts).
To conclude, I wanted to add that even when modern composers try to improve upon the great pieces by creating covers they will never be able to achieve such a mystery! Classics will always stay classics! I could not deny the fact that the approach of Biondi was quite individual and good in his own way, but the original piece makes us not only enjoy the music but also to travel back in that era when that piece was firstly composed and feel all the magnificence sonority of sounds.
Antonio Vivaldi – The Four Seasons and Violin Concertos: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ybzHtr6dTVU
Vivaldi – The Four Seasons (Nantes 2003) Europa Galante, Biondi: