Sunday, May 03, 2015

22: Spring/Allegro (Four Seasons) - Vivaldi

The question here surely is not whether it should be in the Top Forty At Forty, but why it isn't any higher than number 22. The answer to that will be revealed over the coming entries of course, but the fact remains it is one of the strongest pieces of music of the last thousand years, and even at its venerable age it is spritely and fresh to each new generation.

How old is it? 1720 is the current estimate. It was only recently that I wondered why Vivaldi wrote so much string stuff and not piano concertos like Mozart - the answer is that this pre-dates the piano. Seriously - the oldest pianos in existence today date from the same year - 1720 - and they were early prototypes, not considered yet for serious use.

But the main thing is that it sounds amazing. Not that the rest of the Four Seasons doesn't - every part is distinctive and well-known - but Spring is the best, and not just because Nigel Kennedy got hold of it. It is very descriptive - the bird singing represented by the violin solo is the obvious one, but there's plenty of other spring sounds to listen for - but the bit that I really like best is the last minute or so, where it goes to a minor-key lower version of the main theme, followed by a section that ends with a rising violin solo that slowly rises, rises, rises and then arrives, not to quick, not too slow, at the summit of the hill and the piece can finish with the final refrain again. Really beautiful stuff, perfectly judged and weighted, and simple enough for anyone to appreciate.

I have no idea why you'd put a lighthouse with it, but the Landscape people did, so I've linked to that version.

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