Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Itzhak Perlman: Vivaldi's Four Seasons—'Winter'

Itzhak Perlman plays from the first movement of Antonin Vivaldi's Four Seasons, Concerto No. 4 in F minor, Op. 8, RV 297, "L'inverno" (Winter), with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, Zubin Mehta conducting. It's the beginning of winter here in the Northern Hemisphere.

Antonio Vivaldi composed the four violin concertos in 1723; it was first published in 1725 as part of 12 concertos known as Il cimento dell'armonia e dell'inventione ("The Contest of Harmony and Invention") Each movement evokes a sense of the season, or at least how Vivaldi imagined it when he composed the work in his native Venice, Italy. Thus, winter evokes icy rain, slow careful walking and the comfort of warm winter fires.  The "Four Seasons" remains one of the most popular works, not only of Baroque music but of all musical forms and traditions.

Each concerto is associated with a sonnet, ascribed to Vivaldi, describing the scenes depicted in the music. For "Winter":

Allegro non molto
"Aggiacciato tremar trà neri algenti
Al Severo Spirar d' orrido Vento,
Correr battendo i piedi ogni momento;
E pel Soverchio gel batter i denti;"

"Passar al foco i di quieti e contenti
Mentre la pioggia fuor bagna ben cento"

"Caminar Sopra 'l giaccio, e à passo lento
Per timor di cader gersene intenti;
Gir forte Sdruzziolar, cader à terra
Di nuove ir Sopra 'l giaccio e correr forte
Sin ch' il giaccio si rompe, e si disserra;
Sentir uscir dalle ferrate porte
Sirocco Borea, e tutti i Venti in guerra
Quest' é 'l verno, mà tal, che gioja apporte."

[English Translation]:

Allegro non molto
Shivering, frozen mid the frosty snow
in biting, stinging winds;
running to and fro to stamp one's icy feet,
teeth chattering in the bitter chill.

To rest contentedly beside the hearth,
while those outside are drenched by pouring rain.

We tread the icy path slowly and cautiously,
for fear of tripping and falling.
Then turn abruptly, slip, crash on the ground and,
rising, hasten on across the ice lest it cracks up.
We feel the chill north winds coarse through the home
despite the locked and bolted doors…
this is winter,
which nonetheless brings its own delights.

Antonio Lucio Vivaldi [ 1678-1741]: He was nicknamed il Prete Rosso ("The Red Priest") because of his red hair, and had many talents" an Italian Baroque composer, priest, and virtuoso violinist. Vivaldi is credited with  composing 500 concertos.
Artist Credit: François Morellon la Cave; painted in 1725.
Source: Wikipedia

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