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Classics Explained: VIVALDI - The Four Seasons (Siepmann)

    

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Classics Explained: VIVALDI - The Four Seasons (Siepmann)

Classics Explained
An Introduction to... VIVALDI: The Four Seasons

Author and Narrator: Jeremy Siepmann
2 CDs, including the complete work
116-page booklet
Naxos 8.558028-29
ISBN: 1-84379-094-7

The Four Seasons is one of the most popular classical works ever written - four violin concertos, each capturing moods and illustrating stories related to a specific time of year. After 300 years, their melodies continue to thrill and seduce, their harmonies to haunt and excite, their tone-paintings to ravish the ear and inspire the imagination. But how do they work their particular magic? Why have they succeeded where others have failed? In this voyage of discovery, each movement is preceded by a lively exploration of its means with the help of many examples and useful analogies.

Jeremy Siepmann, in his engaging analysis of The Four Seasons, starts: 'One of the hardiest of all clichés where music is concerned is the claim that Vivaldi didn't write hundreds of concertos but one concerto hundreds of times. It ain't true'. You may know how The Four Seasons goes - the tunes and the exciting moments - but do you know how it is put together? Though the four concertos are each based on the standard three-movement concerto pattern (fast-slow-fast) how does Vivaldi inject all that pace and colour? Jeremy Siepmann explains.


Disc 1

Vivaldi, Antonio

  An Introduction to...VIVALDI: The Four Seasons
1.   Introduction: Opening, upward - pointing figure 00:01:33
2.   Answering, downward figure completes the phrase 00:00:22
3.   Beginning of dialogue 00:00:25
4.   The nature of musical conversation; repetition; ' echo ' effect 00:01:26
5.   Upward pointing to one ' target ' note 00:00:40
6.   ' Answer ' points to two, downward notes 00:00:11
7.   Same idea repeated 3 times 00:00:19
8.   The first Solo section: birdsong from three soloists, not one 00:01:53
9.   Repeat of ' two - pronged ' theme in orchestra 00:00:22
10.   Orchestra depicts murmuring stream, but still there's no real melody 00:00:51
11.   Further illustrative ' water studies ' 00:00:32
12.   Orchestra erupts into thunderstorm 00:00:27
13.   Orchestral thunder, virtuosic ' lightning ' from soloist - but still no ' tune ' 00:00:54
14.   Soloistic ' birds ' return to the air 00:00:41
15.   Variant of opening theme, with ' argument ' between two notes, one high, one low 00:00:25
16.   Cue to First Movement 00:00:20
17.   First Movement (Complete) 00:03:29
18.   Scene setting and Main Theme of Second Movement 00:01:56
19.   Analytical comment and Main Theme again 00:00:57
20.   Main Theme varied 00:00:41
21.   Further variation, tracing slow, descending scale - steps 00:00:43
22.   Analytical discussion of ' pace ' and ' tempo ' ; further variant of main theme 00:02:51
23.   Vivaldi springs a surprise, reversing direction and heightening tension 00:00:44
24.   Analytical cue to Second Movement 00:00:44
25.   Second Movement (Complete) 00:02:35
26.   Undercover ' bagpipes ' initiate the finale 00:01:05
27.   Second part of Main Theme: new notes, same rhythm 00:00:18
28.   An ' echo ' with a difference 00:00:23
29.   Reminder of ' echoed ' phrase in its original form 00:00:12
30.   Surprise variant provides springboard into new descending four - note pattern 00:00:19
31.   Unexpected, ' flowing ' entrance of soloist 00:00:36
32.   The use of ' sequence ' in first extended solo 00:01:21
33.   Vivaldi prepares expectation... 00:00:19
34.   ... and frustrates it by bringing in a new theme, using his four - note ' motto ' 00:01:07
35.   Violins accompanied by flowing ' commentary ' in lower strings 00:00:34
36.   Soloist returns with new variant 00:00:36
37.   Pace slows as violins trace another four - note scalewise descent 00:00:24
38.   The peasants return with the main theme, which turns unexpectedly downward 00:00:47
39.   Intensification as harmonies change under broad, descending four - note ' motto ' 00:00:37
40.   Mini - earthquake transformed into harmonic landslide 00:00:46
41.   Critical mood - change in soloist's lonely soliloquy 00:00:42
42.   Cue to restoration of main theme in its entirety as the movement ends 00:00:22
43.   Third Movement (complete) 00:04:15
44.   Scene setting and opening of First Movement 00:00:34
45.   Expanded groups of answering phrase 00:00:24
46.   Upper and lower strings alternately succumb to lethargy 00:00:49
47.   As in ' Spring ', soloist enters with birdsong 00:00:34
48.   Orchestra hijacks soloist's material 00:00:40
49.   Soloist returns,first as turtle - dove, then as goldfinch 00:00:50
50.   Gentle breezes give away to North Wing 00:01:03
51.   The storm subsides; soloist enters as weeping peasant boy 00:01:00
52.   Movement ends as storm returns 00:00:17
53.   First Movement (complete) 00:05:20
54.   Second movement opens with extremecontrasts 00:01:34
55.   Second Movement (complete) 00:02:28
56.   Stormy Weather; thunder 00:00:37
57.   Lightning from upper strings 00:00:22
58.   More lightning: ' heat ' lightning from violins, ' fork ' lightning from violas 00:00:24
59.   Torrential rain, depicted by entire orchestra 00:00:46
60.   Deferred entry of solo violin, in virtuoso vein 00:00:54
61.   Peasant's failing resolve as violin spirals down 00:00:21
62.   Nature triumphant; soloist draws on orchestra's 'rain' music 00:01:35
63.   The peasant's capitulation 00:00:23
64.   Third Movement (complete) 00:03:03


Disc 2

Vivaldi, Antonio

  An Introduction to...VIVALDI: The Four Seasons
1.   Repetitiousness and folk music; the movement's opening 00:01:17
2.   Secondary theme, a closely related development of the first 00:00:28
3.   Solo entry restates the opening theme, ' double - stopping ' 00:01:05
4.   Unexpectedly, a new theme where a repeat might be expected 00:00:36
5.   The soloist as ' drunkard ' 00:00:45
6.   Further violinistic slips and slides 00:00:15
7.   Orchestra re - enters with main theme, but is interrupted by the drunkard 00:00:18
8.   Other drunks join in ' dialogue ' with the orchestra 00:01:01
9.   The orchestral peasants continue their dancing, but things have changed 00:00:57
10.   Enter another drunk, courtesy of the virtuoso soloist 00:00:40
11.   The dance breaks up 00:00:38
12.   The drunkard interrupts again, then falls asleep, breathing heavily 00:00:56
13.   Conversation amongst the sober peasants leads to their final dance 00:00:24
14.   First Movement (complete) 00:04:46
15.   Scene - setting for Second Movement 00:01:08
16.   Second Movement (complete) 00:02:45
17.   Similarities between the Third Movement and the First 00:01:06
18.   Expectation and surprise: Vivaldi tacks on one bar too many 00:00:27
19.   A case of predictable unpredictablity: novelty and repetition 00:00:36
20.   Soloist's double - stopping depicts hunting horns 00:00:34
21.   Orchestra yields to unexpected display of virtuosity by soloist 00:00:38
22.   Soloist suddenly takes the part of the fleeing beast 00:00:25
23.   Symmetrical paralels with First Movement: ' beast ' / ' drunkard ' etc 00:00:47
24.   Death of the quarry, end of the movement 00:00:17
25.   Third Movement (complete) 00:03:13
26.   Orchestral strings enter, part by part; soloist depicts the biting wind 00:01:24
27.   Wind subsides and returns, tormenting the trudgers through the snow 00:00:53
28.   Soloist depicts snow flurries 00:00:27
29.   Soloist's flurries interrupted by six blasts of orchestral wind 00:00:32
30.   Teeth chattering, and with stamping feet, the travellers finally reach their goal 00:01:54
31.   Cue to First Movement as a whole 00:00:11
32.   First Movement (complete) 00:03:24
33.   Soloist's ' aria ' accompanied by pizzicato ' raindrops ' 00:00:37
34.   A sequence of simple scales, accompanied by opening rhythm 00:00:33
35.   Two scalewise ideas for the price of one: foreground and background 00:00:52
36.   New, rising scale - pattern unfurled with ever - greater breadth 00:00:36
37.   The pace increases eight - fold in concluding downwards scale 00:00:36
38.   Against an unvarying tempo, the pace is repeatedly varied 00:01:03
39.   Foreground / Background 00:00:34
40.   Detailed discussion of foreground / background perceptions; analogies with speech 00:02:14
41.   Second Movement (complete) 00:02:19
42.   Scene - setting; soloist begins for the first time 00:00:47
43.   Soloist rises progressively, in sequence, decoratively outling chord of the home key 00:00:26
44.   First orchestral section; ace is halved; the undermining onset of chromaticism 00:00:47
45.   The walkers lose their balance and stylishly fall down 00:00:22
46.   Soloist returns as the original solitary walker and strides away from the others 00:00:23
47.   One tempo, two rates of speed: fast for the soloist, slow for the orchestra 00:01:51
48.   Orchestra evokes the warm winds of the Sirocco 00:00:36
49.   Answering blast from the Borea, the could wind of the north; struggle for supremacy 00:01:07
50.   Cue to final movement 00:00:23
51.   Third Movement (complete) 00:03:08

Total Playing Time: 01:58:43






Composer(s):
Vivaldi, Antonio

Reader(s):
Siepmann, Jeremy

Label: Naxos Educational

Genre: Music Education

Period: Baroque

Catalogue No: 8.558028-29

Barcode: 0636943802823

Physical Release: 03/2001

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