Notes On Vivaldi Four Seasons

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Much will be said about the instruments that you will see and hear at the concerts and events we will be presenting this weekend. And, indeed, each of the instruments being showcased this weekend have a fascinating history. Afterall, all of them are older than the United States! However, I’d like for you to also take notice of something that can only be experienced when you see baroque music — that is to say the music that was composed at or around the time these instruments were being made — live: order and balance.

The music of the Baroque is the music of the Age of Reason and The Enlightenment. It is ordered in that the instruments used are essentially always stringed instruments with occasional winds thrown in. It is balanced, in that the soloists aren’t any more prominent or important than the group, and there is always a sense of proportion. When you watch baroque music being performed, it actually sounds like baroque architecture looks. Everyone on stage has an integral and indispensible job to perform. It’s like looking at those beautiful baroque clocks whose inner-workings can be seen through a dome of glass…every cog matters!

There is one role, however, that is completely out of place in this music and completely unnecessary, and that’s the role of the conductor. Conductors simply were not used for this music unless there were performances, often outdoors, that required a large group of performers spread over a large area. In any event, you’ll get to see me wave my arms around during the first half of the concert in music that I absolutely adore.

Aside from the obvious highlight of the concert, Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, there is one little gem that I’m particularly happy to bring to this concert, and that’s the music of Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach. His music is the bridge from the Classical Era (the music of Haydn and Mozart) to the music of the Baroque. C.P.E. Bach was one of the 23 children of Johann Sebastian Bach and was an incredibly successful and popular composer during his lifetime and enormously influential. In fact, he was Mozart’s favorite composer.

Written by

Music Director of the California Symphony and Las Vegas Philharmonic

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