Rethinking Vivaldi’s Four Seasons

We rediscover one of the most well known pieces of classical music

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Vivaldi composed the Four Seasons in 1723 and, since, it has become one of the best-known pieces of classical music. A set of four violin concertos, each in three movements representing the temperaments of different seasons, the Four Seasons is as technically demanding as it is rewarding to listen to.

Perhaps the answer to its longevity lies in Vivaldi's imaginative orchestration, vivid pictorial depictions and virtuosic solo writing. It's music that has captured the imaginations of audiences and musicians for centuries, and is always being presented in new guises. We have picked five reworked versions that stand out on the web...

 

1. Nigel Kennedy

Nigel Kennedy’s recording of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons from 1989 is one of the best-selling classical recordings of all time. The British violinist still performs it today, and this clip of him at last year's BBC Proms captures his raw energy and passion for the piece. He is joined by the Palestine Strings and members of the World Orchestra for Peace. Together they add improvised passages to the original score.

 

2. Max Richter

Recomposed by Max Richter places Vivaldi’s famous concertos in a contemporary context, playing tricks on your memory of the originals. In his score, which includes electronics, Richter cleverly varies melodies and creates new textures. Here, Richter and Daniel Hope perform it with l'arte del mondo.

 

3. Salut Salon

The German string quartet Salut Salon have made the Presto from Summer into a stormy comtest! Spot the references to James Bond, Bach, and anything in between in their ingenious arrangement.

 

4. Vanessa Mae

Vanessa Mae’s 1997 techno take on Summer's Presto - renamed 'Storm' - may not be to everyone’s taste, but it shows that Vivaldi's Seasons can even hold their own against violently distorted guitars and a driving beat. Mae's album Storm remained at No. 27 in the UK album charts for five weeks.

 

5. Daniel Evangelista and Manuel Iradian

This performance from guitarists Daniel Evangelista and Manuel Iradian, filmed at a live gig in Montreal, mixes a sample of the original Four Seaons with their own arrangement for two electric guitars. Their reworking was inspired by the Children of Bodom guitarist Alexi Laiho's version for an online guitar lesson series.

 

Look out for a review of Touch Press's new Four Seasons app in the August issue of BBC Music Magazine

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