4 seasons, 4 viols – Antonio Vivaldi

Les Voix humaines Consort of Viols :
Margaret Little, Mélisande Corriveau, Felix Deak & Susie Napper

Antonio Vilvaldi’s Quattro Stagioni revisited

The Four Seasons (Le Quattro Stagioni) is Antonio Vivaldi’s (1678-1741) most popular set of concertos. What a bizarre phenomenon that these pieces are heard nowadays as elevator and supermarket Muzak, as street music on anything from accordion to Jews harp as well as annoying, “ on hold” telephone entertainment!

However the popularity of The Four Seasons is nothing new. They were amongst the Top Ten tunes during the 18th century! Spring was performed regularly from 1725 to 1790 at the Concerts spirituels, the Parisian concert series. There are also many period arrangements of the concertos for diverse instruments, from solo recorder to full orchestra with choir. Stealing music was common practice in the baroque period. Like clay, it was a medium to be modelled to fit different instruments and new performance situations. Les Voix humaines is, therefore, following a well-trodden, baroque tradition by arranging these pieces for the fun of it!

Each of Vivaldi’s seasons is filled with word painting: you can hear the birds singing, dogs barking and the hurdy-gurdy in Spring, the thunder storms and mosquitos in Summer, the drunken farmers and hunting horns in Autumn and the wind, ice and rain in Winter. Vivaldi includes short poetic descriptions of the seasons throughout the music which you will hear during this performance. You’ll also hear some other well-known jazz standards, pop tunes and traditional songs (by Henry Purcell, George Gershwin or Joseph Kosma) that we’ve slipped into the concertos for your pleasure and ours.

Luckily we’ll never know if Vivaldi is turning in his grave!

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