Legos and Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons” – It’s a Match

Sep 19, 2017

Antonio Vivaldi wrote over 500 concertos for various instruments. Today, most people know four of them. The Four Seasons for violin and chamber orchestra can be heard in countless movie soundtracks and TV ads. Many modern composers have been so inspired by the concertos that they have reimagined them in their own style. One such composer is Max Richter of Germany.

Composer Max Richter
Credit Deutsche Grammophon

Richter follows the basic outline of the compositions while diverging from the specifics. “The thing about Vivaldi,” Richter says, “is that it’s constructed in a way that really lets you in. The movements are quite concise, but on a micro level it is modular music, made of these little atoms. You can pull them apart easily, sort of like a Lego kit.”

In Vivaldi’s original work, the music is accompanied by beautiful Italian sonnets, written (possibly) by Vivaldi himself, after he was inspired by painter Marco Ricci's paintings of the seasons.

To catch a taste of Richter’s version of Vivaldi’s Winter and Spring, listen for this week’s Symphonies of Iowa broadcast featuring the wcfsymphony’s “Four Seasons II” concert. Vivaldi’s classic is paired with Richter’s contemporary rendition of the same piece, both performed by two of Iowa’s finest violinists, Dr. Ross Monroe Winter and Anita Tucker. That’s Monday, September 25th at 7 p.m. on IPR’s Symphonies of Iowa.

Winter

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.

Largo

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

Allegro

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.

 

Spring

Allegro

Springtime is upon us.

The birds celebrate her return with festive song,

and murmuring streams are softly caressed by the breezes.

Thunderstorms, those heralds of Spring, roar, casting their dark mantle over heaven,

Then they die away to silence, and the birds take up their charming songs once more.

Largo

On the flower-strewn meadow, with leafy branches rustling overhead, the goat-herd sleeps, his faithful dog beside him.

Allegro

Led by the festive sound of rustic bagpipes, nymphs and shepherds lightly dance beneath the brilliant canopy of spring.