This blog is about being surprised, not by a new work, but by an old one I considered too familiar, one by a composer whose birthday was on March 4.
It happened that a colleague sent me a score, and asked me to check something in it. I opened the file. There at the top was a most famous title, which brought to mind its opening tune used in countless TV and radio ads. Then, turning to the introduction, I came upon something unexpected: sonnets that the composer had written, one for each of the work’s four parts.
Finally, when I reached the actual score, I found lines from these sonnets above musical passages so that the performer can know what is being described.
“Songs of birds” it said just after that famous opening music. Goldfinch and turtle-dove are heard at measure 58 in the first movement of Part 2. Having often wondered about repeated notes in the slow movement of Part I, I investigated, and read, “the dog that barks.”
Romanticism of the 19th century? Try Baroque, 1725: “Le Quattro Stagioni” The Four Seasons, probably Vivaldi’s most famous concertos.
The most exciting part is that you do not need to be a violinist or conductor to learn these pieces. NLS Music section has an arrangement for solo piano at BRM35873. You can play them at your keyboard, or just read through them to learn what Vivaldi was depicting in his “Trial of Harmony and Invention” (“Il cimento dell’armonica e dell’invencione”).
The next time you hear The Four Seasons, you may give them an added dimension by having Vivaldi’s sonnets at your fingertips. This is just what my wife and I did one evening last month. In the fourth concerto, those tremolo effects brought teeth-chattering winter cold right into our living room, though Virginia temperatures reached the 70s!
So, whether you’ve rarely heard them, or think you’ve heard them too often, Let BRM35873 give you deeper knowledge of The Four Seasons.