You’re Playing the Four Seasons AGAIN?!
Yes, Vivaldi’s best-known work is one of the most recognizable – and one of the most played – pieces in classical music. Some say played way too much. In fact, there are those that say Vivaldi, in general, is played way too much.
Violinist Daniel Hope not only disagrees, he makes makes the argument that Vivaldi’s “greatest hit” isn’t played enough.
According to Hope, the average person recognizes, however poorly hummed, the second theme of Spring from the Four Seasons. On the other hand, Igor Stravinsky summed up the case for the other side when he quipped, “Vivaldi wrote one concerto, 400 times.”
If you believe Seasons is played too much, try listening to a pop radio station for any length of time. On a recent road trip, I believe I heard the same 20 tunes repeated, in various order, during the more than six hours each direction. There were a lot of them I liked, just not enough to hear them 40 times in 12 hours.
While one might find it difficult to find appreciable differences among many of the over 1,000 available recordings of The Seasons, there are still many finding inspiration in the venerable classic. According to Hope, British composer Max Richter said the problem is not in Vivaldi’s music, but in the way it has been treated or more accurately, mistreated.
Astor Piazzolla found inspiration for his Four Seasons in Buenos Aries in Vivaldi’s manuscript. Ditto Jorge Calandrelli, who teamed with clarinetist Eddie Daniels on a jazz arrangement of Seasons, as well as Uri Caine, whose version is particularly intriguing.
It is easy to sit back and wait for something new to come out of the music, or not really even listen. For me, I have found something new, even in one of the most familiar works in classical music, by just listening a little more closely. I hope you have the same experience.
Read more: What’s Still Timeless About ‘Seasons’ (Wall Street Journal)
Watch Eddie Daniels play Winter from The Five Seasons