Accompanied by the Academy of St Martin in the Fields Chamber Ensemble, German classical violinist and pianist Julia Fischer performs Antonio Vivaldi’s Four Seasons (Italian: Le quattro stagioni), a group of four violin concerti. Conductor: Kenneth Sillito. Filmed in the National Botanic Garden of Wales, July 2011; director: Rhodri Huw.

Antonio Vivaldi – The Four Seasons – Julia Fischer – Performance Edit (Full HD 1080p)

The four concerti were written about 1720 and were published in 1725 in Amsterdam, together with eight additional violin concerti, as Il cimento dell’armonia e dell’inventione (“The Contest Between Harmony and Invention”).

The Four Seasons is the best-known of Vivaldi’s works. Unusually for the time, Vivaldi published the concerti with accompanying poems (possibly written by Vivaldi himself) that elucidated what it was about those seasons that his music was intended to evoke. It provides one of the earliest and most-detailed examples of what was later called program music – music with a narrative element.

Vivaldi took great pains to relate his music to the texts of the poems, translating the poetic lines themselves directly into the music on the page. In the middle section of the Spring concerto, where the goatherd sleeps, his barking dog can be marked in the viola section. Other natural occurrences are similarly evoked. Vivaldi separated each concerto into three movements, fast-slow-fast, and likewise each linked sonnet into three sections. His arrangement is as follows:

  • Concerto No. 1 in E major, Op. 8, RV 269, “La primavera” (Spring)
    1. Allegro
    2. Largo e pianissimo sempre
    3. Allegro pastorale
  • Concerto No. 2 in G minor, Op. 8, RV 315, “L’estate” (Summer)
    1. Allegro non molto
    2. Adagio e piano – Presto e forte
    3. Presto
  • Concerto No. 3 in F major, Op. 8, RV 293, “L’autunno” (Autumn)
    1. Allegro
    2. Adagio molto
    3. Allegro
  • Concerto No. 4 in F minor, Op. 8, RV 297, “L’inverno” (Winter)
    1. Allegro non molto
    2. Largo
    3. Allegro

Poems of the Four Seasons

Unusually for the time, Antonio Vivaldi published the concerti with accompanying poems (possibly written by Vivaldi himself).

Spring “La primavera”

Poems of Vivaldi Four Seasons: Spring
Poems of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons: Spring. Image: “Cherry blossoms” on Deposit Photos. Cherry blossoms are a symbolic flower of the spring, a time of renewal, and the fleeting nature of life.

1st movement: Allegro

Giunt’ è la Primavera e festosetti
La Salutan gl’ Augei con lieto canto,
E i fonti allo Spirar de’ Zeffiretti
Con dolce mormorio Scorrono intanto:
Vengon’ coprendo l’ aer di nero amanto
E Lampi, e tuoni ad annuntiarla eletti
Indi tacendo questi, gl’ Augelletti;
Tornan’ di nuovo al lor canoro incanto.

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.

2nd movement: Largo e pianissimo sempre

E quindi sul fiorito ameno prato
Al caro mormorio di fronde e piante
Dorme ‘l Caprar col fido can’ à lato.

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

3rd movement: Allegro pastorale

Di pastoral Zampogna al suon festante
Danzan Ninfe e Pastor nel tetto amato
Di primavera all’ apparir brillante.

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

Summer “L’estate”

Poems of Vivaldi Four Seasons: summer
Poems of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons: Summer

1st movement: Allegro non molto

Sotto dura Staggion dal Sole accesa
Langue l’ huom, langue ‘l gregge, ed arde il Pino;
Scioglie il Cucco la Voce, e tosto intesa
Canta la Tortorella e ‘l gardelino.
Zeffiro dolce Spira, mà contesa
Muove Borea improviso al Suo vicino;
E piange il Pastorel, perche sospesa
Teme fiera borasca, e ‘l suo destino;

Beneath the blazing sun’s relentless heat
men and flocks are sweltering,
pines are scorched.
We hear the cuckoo’s voice; then sweet songs of the turtle dove and finch are heard.
Soft breezes stir the air….but threatening north wind sweeps them suddenly aside. The shepherd trembles, fearful of violent storm and what may lie ahead.

2nd movement: Adagio e piano – Presto e forte

Toglie alle membra lasse il Suo riposo
Il timore de’ Lampi, e tuoni fieri
E de mosche, e mossoni il Stuol furioso!

His limbs are now awakened from their repose by fear of lightning’s flash and thunder’s roar, as gnats and flies buzz furiously around.

3rd movement: Presto

Ah che pur troppo i Suo timor Son veri
Tuona e fulmina il Ciel e grandioso
Tronca il capo alle Spiche e a’ grani alteri.

Alas, his worst fears were justified, as the heavens roar and great hailstones beat down upon the proudly standing corn.

Autumn

Poems of Vivaldi Four Seasons: Autumn
Poems of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons: Autumn. Image: “Fallen maple leaves” on Deposit Photos

1st movement: Allegro

Celebra il Vilanel con balli e Canti
Del felice raccolto il bel piacere
E del liquor de Bacco accesi tanti
Finiscono col Sonno il lor godere

The peasant celebrates with song and dance the harvest safely gathered in.
The cup of Bacchus flows freely, and many find their relief in deep slumber.

2nd movement: Adagio molto

Fà ch’ ogn’ uno tralasci e balli e canti
L’ aria che temperata dà piacere,
E la Staggion ch’ invita tanti e tanti
D’ un dolcissimo Sonno al bel godere.

The singing and the dancing die away
as cooling breezes fan the pleasant air,
inviting all to sleep
without a care.

3rd movement: Allegro

I cacciator alla nov’ alba à caccia
Con corni, Schioppi, e canni escono fuore
Fugge la belua, e Seguono la traccia;
Già Sbigottita, e lassa al gran rumore
De’ Schioppi e canni, ferita minaccia
Languida di fuggir, mà oppressa muore.

The hunters emerge at dawn,
ready for the chase,
with horns and dogs and cries.
Their quarry flees while they give chase.
Terrified and wounded, the prey struggles on,
but, harried, dies.

Winter

Poems of Vivaldi Four Seasons: Winter
Poems of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons: Winter. I took this photo at the Belgrade forest, İstanbul, on January 25, 2022.

1st movement: Allegro non molto

Aggiacciato tremar trà neri algenti
Al Severo Spirar d’orrido Vento,
Correr battendo i piedi ogni momento;
E pel Soverchio gel batter i denti.

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.

2nd movement: Largo

Passar al foco i di quieti e contenti
Mentre la pioggia fuor bagna ben cento

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

3rd movement: Allegro

Caminar Sopra ‘l giaccio, e à passo lento
Per timor di cader gersene intenti;
Gir forte Sdruzziolar, cader à terra
Di nuove ir Sopra ‘l giaccio e correr forte
Sin ch’ il giaccio si rompe, e si disserra;
Sentir uscir dalle ferrate porte
Sirocco Borea, e tutti i Venti in guerra
Quest’ é ‘l verno, mà tal, che gioja apporte.

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…

Academy of St Martin in the Fields Chamber Ensemble

Julia Fischer and Academy of St Martin in the Fields Chamber Ensemble perform Antonio Vivaldi's Four Seasons
German classical violinist and pianist Julia Fischer and Academy of St Martin in the Fields Chamber Ensemble perform Antonio Vivaldi’s Four Seasons. Filmed in the National Botanic Garden of Wales, July 2011.

The Academy of St Martin in the Fields is an English chamber orchestra, based in London.

John Churchill and Sir Neville Marriner founded the orchestra The Academy of St.-Martin-in-the-Fields in London as a small, conductorless string group. The original group numbered 11, all male. Their name comes from Trafalgar Square’s St Martin-in-the-Fields church, where the orchestra gave its first concert on November 13, 1959. In 1988, the orchestra dropped the hyphens from its full name. Marriner holds the title of Life President.

The initial performances as a string orchestra at St Martin-in-the-Fields’ church played a key role in the revival of baroque performances in England. The orchestra has since expanded to include winds. It remains flexible in size, changing its make-up to suit its repertoire, which ranges from the Baroque to contemporary works.

Neville Marriner continued to perform obbligatos and concertino solos with the orchestra until 1969 and led the orchestra on recordings until the autumn of 1970 when he switched to conducting from the podium from directing the orchestra from the leader’s desk. On recordings, besides Marriner, Iona Brown and Kenneth Sillito have led the orchestra among others. Since 2000, Murray Perahia has held the title of principal guest conductor of the orchestra and has made commercial recordings with the orchestra as pianist and conductor.

Since 2011, the Music Director is the American virtuoso violinist and conductor Joshua Bell (as of September 2015).

Sources

M. Özgür Nevres

Published by M. Özgür Nevres

I am Özgür Nevres, a software engineer, a former road racing cyclist, and also an amateur musician. I opened andantemoderato.com to share my favorite music. I also take care of stray cats & dogs. Please consider supporting me on Patreon.

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