• Ian Passmore

Music that doesn't suck, No. 43: Springtime!

Happy Spring, everyone! With the exception of Brahms’s Second Symphony, this blog has been dedicated to relatively underperformed works—I don’t cover a lot of “masterworks,” because most folks hear that stuff all the time. Well, we’re covering another warhorse today! Sort of….

There are lots of pieces associated with Spring: Stravinsky’s Le sacre du printemps, Schumann’s First Symphony, Delius’s On Hearing the First Cuckoo in Spring, Lili Boulanger’s D’un matin de printemps; and, of course, anything dealing with the four seasons. Seasons “cycles” by Haydn (an oratorio) and Glazunov (a ballet) come to mind. But, the most famous, BY FAR, is Antonio Vivaldi’s set of four violin concertos, Le quattro stagioni. Composed around 1716-1717, this set is one of the most instantly recognizable pieces in all of classical music, up there with Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D minor, Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro, Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, etc., etc.

Okay, enough about Vivaldi…because today, we’re returning to Max Richter!

You might remember Max from his beautiful work, “On the Nature of Daylight,” which we covered back in MTDS, No. 22. Well, my first encounter with his music was actually Recomposed: The Four Seasons, his 21st-century “reimagining” of Vivaldi’s 18th-century classic!

The piece is really a sort of time-defying collaboration between the two composers. Alongside his own music, Richter subjects about 25% of Vivaldi’s original material to phasing and looping; the other 75% was discarded.

For comparison, I have included a recording of Vivaldi’s original, “La primavera,” as well as the premiere recording of Richter’s version, “Spring 0” through “Spring 3.” The Vivaldi recording features the violinist Itzhak Perlman and the Israel Philharmonic; the Richter recording features the violinist Daniel Hope and the Konzerthaus Kammerorchester Berlin. Enjoy! :)

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