The Authentic Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons: Watch a Performance Based on Original Manuscripts & Played with 18th-Century Instruments

Last week we fea­tured a per­for­mance of Pachel­bel’s Canon as faith­ful as pos­si­ble to how Pachel­bel orig­i­nal­ly com­posed it, as well as to the instru­ments and play­ing styles of the era in which he lived. Today we offer anoth­er per­for­mance by the same ensem­ble, San Fran­cis­co’ Voic­es of Music, this one of an even more beloved piece: Anto­nio Vivaldi’s The Four Sea­sons. In the video above, vio­lin­ist Cyn­thia Miller Freivo­gel joins Voic­es of Music to play the suit­e’s “Win­ter” con­cer­to on such gen­uine­ly ear­ly 18th-cen­tu­ry instru­ments as the baroque organ, the Ital­ian sin­gle man­u­al harp­si­chord, and the arch­lute.

“Of the many com­posers who helped to bring the Ital­ian Baroque style to its zenith at the begin­ning of the 18th cen­tu­ry, Anto­nio Vival­di stands out as per­haps the most cre­ative,” says the web site of the Red­lands Sym­pho­ny. “Like Bach, his ener­gy was pri­mar­i­ly direct­ed toward per­fect­ing exist­ing forms rather than cre­at­ing new ones. With­in the works of Vival­di, we see a per­fec­tion of the 17th cen­tu­ry Ital­ian con­cer­to and opera forms.”

And in the case of The Four Sea­sons, made up as it is of one con­cer­to rep­re­sent­ing each quar­ter of the year accom­pa­nied by a son­net on the spir­it of that sea­son, Vival­di made “a con­scious attempt to write pro­gram­mat­ic works. They are, in fact, one of the ear­li­est attempts to com­pose music of this type.”

For this video, Voic­es of Music’s offi­cial notes explain, a “new edi­tion” of The Four Sea­sons “was pre­pared from the orig­i­nal sources, prints and man­u­scripts for Vivaldi’s music. In addi­tion, a dig­i­tal over­lay has been cre­at­ed for Vivaldi’s son­nets which were inlaid into the orig­i­nal engrav­ing: click the CC but­ton to view the son­net and the gear icon to choose your pre­ferred lan­guage.” This per­for­mance of one part of Vivaldi’s best-known com­po­si­tions, sound­ing as close as we can pos­si­bly get today to the way Vival­di him­self must have heard it, will be sea­son­al­ly appro­pri­ate for south­ern-hemi­sphere Open Cul­ture read­ers now in the mid­dle of their own win­ter. As for read­ers in the sum­mer­time of the north­ern hemi­sphere — well, nine and a half min­utes of 17th-cen­tu­ry win­ter­time may be just what they need to cool down.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Why We Love Vivaldi’s “Four Sea­sons”: An Ani­mat­ed Music Les­son

Vivaldi’s Four Sea­sons Brought to Life in Sand Ani­ma­tions by the Hun­gar­i­an Artist Fer­enc Cakó

The Recorder Played Like You’ve Nev­er Heard it Before: Hear a Stun­ning Solo from Vivaldi’s Recorder Con­cer­to in C Major

14-Year-Old Girl’s Blis­ter­ing Heavy Met­al Per­for­mance of Vival­di

The Authen­tic Pachelbel’s Canon: Watch a Per­for­mance Based on the Orig­i­nal Man­u­script & Played with Orig­i­nal 17th-Cen­tu­ry Instru­ments

Based in Seoul, Col­in Mar­shall writes and broad­casts on cities, lan­guage, and cul­ture. His projects include the book The State­less City: a Walk through 21st-Cen­tu­ry Los Ange­les and the video series The City in Cin­e­ma. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall, on Face­book, or on Insta­gram.

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