Shunske Sato Plays Vivaldi: “Summer” from “The Four Seasons”

Antonio Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons (Le quattro stagioni) is one of the earliest and most iconic examples of programmatic music. Vivaldi composed the collection of four violin concerti, each depicting a season of the year, during his tenure as music director at the court chapel of Mantua. Together with eight additional concerti, the works were published in Amsterdam in 1725 under the enticing title, Il cimento dell’armonia e dell’inventione (“The Contest Between Harmony and …

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Vivaldi’s Stabat Mater: Music of Sorrow and Solitude

Antonio Vivaldi’s Stabat Mater, RV. 621 was first performed during Holy Week in 1712 at Santa Maria della Pace in the Northern Italian city of Brescia. The text, a 13th century poem which has been attributed to numerous authors, is a sorrowful meditation on Mary’s suffering during the crucifixion of Christ. Scored for solo alto (originally castrato) and orchestra, Vivaldi’s Stabat Mater sets only the first ten of the poem’s twenty stanzas. Its …

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The Italian Christmas Concerto: Music of Corelli, Vivaldi, and Locatelli

In one of Italy’s most enduring Christmas traditions, shepherds from the mountains enter towns to perform carols on the piffero (a reed instrument similar to the oboe) and the zampogna (a kind of bagpipe). The impromptu concerts recall legends in which shepherds in Bethlehem celebrated the birth of Jesus through the music of their pipes. These rustic sounds enter the Baroque Christmas concerto, a form of concerto grosso popularized by numerous composers …

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Vivaldi’s Concerto for Four Violins in B Minor, RV 580: Dramatic Innovations

The world of Antonio Vivaldi (1678-1741) was marked by dramatic innovation. In the Italian city of Cremona, just over a hundred miles from Vivaldi’s native Venice, instrument builders such as Antonio Stradivari and Giuseppe Guarneri were elevating the violin, tonally, to previously unimaginable heights. At the same time, Vivaldi, perhaps the world’s first rock star, captivated listeners with such blazing violinistic virtuosity that one witness described his playing as “terrifying.” Through techniques …

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Vivaldi’s Oboe Concerto in A Minor, RV 461: Alfredo Bernardini and Bremer Barockorchester

In addition to being a prolific composer, Antonio Vivaldi (1678-1741) was a virtuoso violinist, teacher, opera impresario, and musical innovator. Based primarily in Venice, Vivaldi was renowned throughout Europe. His music influenced J.S. Bach. In his final years, Vivaldi moved to Vienna with the intention of gaining employment at the court of Emperor Charles VI. Soon after, the Emperor died. Vivaldi was left without a source of income; he died in poverty. …

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Vivaldi’s Trio Sonata No. 12 in D Minor, RV 63: Variations on “La Follia”

Antonio Vivaldi’s Twelve Trio Sonatas, Op. 1, published in 1705, conclude with a dazzling display of musical fireworks. The Sonata No. 12 in D minor, RV 63 unfolds in a single movement made up of twenty variations on La Follia. This theme, first recorded in Francisco de Salinas’ 1577 treatise, De musica libri septem, originated in Portuguese dance music. It was used by numerous composers throughout the Baroque period, including Jean-Baptiste Lully, Domenico Scarlatti, Purcell, …

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Vivaldi’s Concerto for Two Cellos in G Minor: Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra

The Concerto for Two Cellos in G minor, RV 531 is one of Antonio Vivaldi’s most intensely dramatic and convention-defying works. Out of the composer’s nearly 500 surviving concerti (30 of which feature the cello), it is the only “double” concerto for the instrument. The first movement begins not with the standard tutti ritornello but with the two solo instruments taking center stage with a vigorous conversation in thirds. Immediately, we are …

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