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Lyrical Baroque Ensemble

The Four Seasons

A. Vivaldi

Antonio Vivaldi's Four Seasons are the first four concertos to open the collection of twelve violin concertos composed between 1723 and 1725 entitled Il cimento dell'armonia e dell'inventione (The confrontation between harmony and invention), in which reason and imagination clash and are reconciled.

First performed in public in London and at the Concert spirituel in Paris in early 1728, the famous priest-composer - who died in poverty - poured all his genius into the composition of this universal hymn to nature, rediscovered in the mid-twentieth century.

The Four Seasons are now considered a major work in the history of Western classical music, where the abundance of contrasts perfectly matches the criteria of Baroque music. The Four Seasons marked a turning point in the concerto genre by involving a new organisation of the orchestra, moving from the concerto grosso, a concertante musical form in which the orchestra dialogues with a group of soloists, to what was to become the concerto featuring a single soloist in the foreground in relation to the orchestra. The Four Seasons are also the first work of program music, i.e. descriptive music illustrating the cycle of the seasons through its figuralisms.

Spring, written in E major, describes with joy the renewal of nature. Summer, composed in G minor, expresses the languor and heat of summer, which sometimes gives way to storms. Autumn, in F major, illustrates the grape harvest and drunkenness, but also hunting through the barking of dogs. Winter, in the key of F minor, expresses the desolation and harshness of winter.



The Four Seasons , motet In furore iustissimae irae and opera arias by Antonio Vivaldi