Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Pinchas Zukerman: Vivaldi's Four Seasons—'Summer'

Pinchas Zukerman and the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra perform from the first movement of Vivaldi's Four Seasons: L'Estate/Summer, in G minor, Op. 8, RV 315, with Zubin Mehta conducting. The Israeli-born Zukerman is currently the music director of the National Arts Centre Orchestra (NACO) in Ottawa, a position that he has held since 1999. Zukerman has announced that he plans to step down in 2015,

Summer begins in the Northern Hemisphere tonight at 7:09 P.M. (EDT).

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. For summer, it ends with a thunderstorm. 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 "Summer": 

Summer: Concerto in G minor
Allegro non molto
"Sotto dura Staggion dal Sole accesa
Langue l' huom, langue 'l gregge, ed arde il Pino;
Scioglie il Cucco la Voce, e tosto intesa
Canta la Tortorella e 'l gardelino.
Zeffiro dolce Spira, mà contesa
Muove Borea improviso al Suo vicino;
E piange il Pastorel, perche sospesa
Teme fiera borasca, e 'l suo destino;"

Adagio e piano - Presto e forte
"Toglie alle membra lasse il Suo riposo
Il timore de' Lampi, e tuoni fieri
E de mosche, e mossoni il Stuol furioso!"

"Ah che pur troppo i Suo timor Son veri
Tuona e fulmina il Ciel e grandioso
Tronca il capo alle Spiche e a' grani alteri."

[English Translation]

Summer: Concerto in G minor

Allegro non molto
Beneath the blazing sun's relentless heat
men and flocks are sweltering,
pines are scorched.
We hear the cuckoo's voice; 
then sweet songs of the turtle dove and finch are heard.
Soft breezes stir the air….
but threatening north wind sweeps them suddenly aside. 
The shepherd trembles, fearful of violent storm and what may lie ahead.

Adagio e piano - Presto e forte
His limbs are now awakened from their repose 
by fear of lightning's flash and thunder's roar, 
as gnats and flies buzz furiously around.

Alas, his worst fears were justified, 
as the heavens roar and great 
hailstones beat down upon the proudly standing corn.

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 CreditFrançois Morellon la Cave; painted in 1725.


  1. Wonderful music! Wonderful performers!
    Nevertheless, when I went to see the Israel Philharmonic at Carnegie Hall a year or so ago, there were pickets across the street protesting the presence of Israelis in Carnegie Hall.

    1. It's total foolishness to protest musical performers; it seems that such persons have nothing better to do.


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