The Eight Seasons: Vivaldi – Piazzolla

Many are familiar with ‘The Four Seasons’ by Antonio Vivaldi, one of the pinnacles of Baroque music and the cycle of violin concertos that serves as definition of the genre. Fewer people know that Vivaldi’s work served as major inspiration to Argentinian composer Astor Piazzolla and led him to compose his own spin on the theme of the four seasons, imbuing them with his trademark tango and jazz influences. Russian composer Leonid Desyatnikov combined the two cycles into a unified concert performance in 1998. Since then, they are known as ‘The Eight Seasons’. The concert The Eight Seasons: Vivaldi – Piazzolla at Volksoper Wien presents them in their full glory thanks to the musical skill of its two soloists, Omer Meir Wellber on the harpsichord and the accordion and Jacob Reuven on the mandolin.

Antonio Vivaldi composed ‘The Four Seasons’ inspired by the beauty of the Italian countryside. Officially published in 1725, the cycle of violin concertos was revolutionary for its time and still sounds powerful and fresh nearly three centuries later. The amount of musical invention and creativity Vivaldi put into the scores remain unparalleled to date, his musical metaphors and natural sound imitations second to none. Astor Piazzolla’s response to the Baroque original was composed between 1965 and 1970. The title ‘Las Cuatro Estaciones Porteñas’, usually translated in English as ‘The Four Seasons of Buenos Aires’, is a nod to his adoptive hometown.

In The Eight Seasons: Vivaldi – Piazzolla, Desyatnikov’s rearrangement and fusion of Vivaldi’s and Piazzolla’s work is remarkable. Thanks to his creative vision, each of the Argentine seasons is split into three sections according to the Baroque model. Desyatnikov also inserted carefully selected musical quotes from Vivaldi’s works into Piazzolla’s, playing with the climactic inversion across the northern and southern hemisphere. Thus, quotes from Vivaldi’s ‘Winter’ appear in Piazzolla’s ‘Summer’, imbuing it with a transcendental quality. Vienna’s Volksoper hosts a special musical journey through time and space.

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