Vivaldi penned more than 500 concertos. At least 214 of these are for solo violin and orchestra, but as Michael Talbot remarks, ‘scarcely a year passes without the announcement of some fresh discovery’. So what was the ‘concerto’ to Vivaldi? What about it did he love so much to have composed so many? In the decade before Vivaldi composed Le Quattro Stagioni.
Despite what this recorded collection suggests, few of Vivaldi’s instrumental works have programmatic titles. On the whole, titles gesture towards a general mood. Il Riposo and L’amoroso are examples of this indication of Affekt – indeed, both are united in their key of gleaming E major. The case of Il Grosso Mogul is stranger. There seems to be no known link between Vivaldi and the Indian court of the Grand Mughal, Akbar. The extreme virtuosity required by the soloist in the outer movements, as well as the long, fully written-out cadenzas, suggest a theatrical function. Perhaps Vivaldi performed it as a ‘theatre concerto’ as part of an opera plot set in India. French royalty, however, did play a huge role in the reception of Le Quattro Stagioni.
Producer Jonathan Freeman-Attwood writes:
“Working with Rachel Podger and Brecon Baroque has been an object lesson in starting anew and identifying the ingredients which make ‘Le Quattro Stagioni’ great works. Virtuosity is non-negotiable here and Rachel has it in abundance. But it’s the colour, poetry, vibrancy and evocative characterisation of weather, human warmth and fragility, captured by the dynamic flux of Rachel interlocking with her colleagues in Brecon Baroque, that deliver near-unimaginable qualities in this music.”Download booklet