Antonio Vivaldi’s Concerto in A minor, Op. 3, No. 6 is well known to all Suzuki violin students. Vivaldi (1678-1741) contributed to the development of the violin as a solo instrument, dazzling audiences throughout Europe with shocking new sounds. He wrote over 500 concertos. For many years Vivaldi also directed the female music ensemble at Ospedale della Pietà, a school for orphaned girls in Venice.
Let’s compare two excellent but contrasting performances. The first is a modern performance by legendary Polish violinist Henryk Szeryng (1918-1988). The three short movements are Allegro, Largo and Presto (fast, slow, fast):
Now let’s hear a performance which attempts to capture the instruments and style of Vivaldi’s time. Baroque soloists often added ornamentation and improvisatory elements similar to the approach of a jazz musician today. This performance is by Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra:
Do you prefer one of these recordings over another? It’s amazing that we can approach the same piece in so many different ways.