Vivaldi's Four Seasons - as you have never heard them before
October 3, 2013 6:02 PM   Subscribe

Nigel Kennedy, best known for this performance of the Four Seasons by Vivaldi at the Proms in 1989, decided to give the popular classical piece a make over. He invited the Palestine Youth Orchestra to ". . . bring(s) fresh insights to these visionary concertos, including the addition of his own improvised links between them." Youtube Link

For the 119th time this summer the Proms took place at the Royal Albert Hall in London. Up to 100 classical performances in eight weeks, culminating in the famous "Last Night of the Proms".

During the 1989 event, violinist Nigel Kennedy played Vivaldi's "Four Seasons", a recording thereof sold over 2 million times.

"We may play dead composers' works, but we don't have to look as if we're still at the funeral." True to his words, Nigel is known for his punk hair cut, eccentric outfits, fist bumps and - outstanding virtuoso skills on the violin.

This year he re-visited the Four Seasons, together with the Palestine Youth Orchestra and the Orchestra of Life. Cello by Yaron Stavi, Percussion by Krzysztof Dziedzic and Piano by Gwilym Simcock.

For reference, here are the start times for the various seasons:
Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter.

To just get a feeling for the unusual aspects of the perpformance:
Oriental Violin, Cello / Piano, Cello and Singing.

For the encore 15 year old Mustafa Saad joined Nigel to play Vivaldi A Minor 2 Concerto for 2 Violins.

Controversy ensued when Nigel used the opportunity to comment on the Israel/Palestine conflict: "We all know from the experience of this night of music that giving equality and getting rid of apartheid gives a beautiful chance for things to happen.” The comments were not part of the later broadcast by BBC.
posted by nostrada (9 comments total) 21 users marked this as a favorite
Thank you for this. I will spend some time checking out these links.

When I was a preschool-aged kid, I had chronic insomnia. I had a wild and gruesome imagination, and would lie awake at night worrying that every airplane I heard overhead was going to drop bombs on me and my family, and that every rustle of leaves was a burglar coming to rob us, and possibly also kill me to avoid leaving any witnesses. I would lie there stiff as a board, terrified, listening.

My parents were pretty occupied with marital strife at the time and really didn't have the patience or resources to comfort me through those scary nights. They were often fighting things out in the other room while this was going on. It's not that they didn't care--my mom hated to see me lying in bed for hours anxiously, but she really did not know what to do about it and did not have a lot of energy to invest in a solution. She tried leaving me with a tape player and some soothing music, but her selections didn't do it for me. She was really into Etta James and this prog rock band called Renaissance, and while I have nothing against either of those choices, they just didn't help my situation.

Then one night, at her wits' end, she put on a cassette of Vivaldi's Four Seasons. I don't even know where the tape came from, as I can't remember my folks every listening to classical music. From the first fresh, soaring strings of spring, I was hooked. The music transported and soothed me. I would listen to that tape every single night, for years, always falling into sleep before the end. I remember when we went on a family road trip once, and the tape got left at home. I didn't sleep until my dad was able to find a replacement at a bookstore somewhere in Vermont. It was my auditory security blanket, and it got me through those nights.
posted by bookish at 6:59 PM on October 3, 2013 [9 favorites]

We have the Mozart Effect, said to be helping people to concentrate. So I totally understand how The Four Seasons had a calming effect on you. Classical music - it can stir up such emotions, or calm people down.
posted by nostrada at 7:20 PM on October 3, 2013

Thanks... a nice end to a long day...
posted by HuronBob at 8:10 PM on October 3, 2013

I've also found the Four Seasons wonderfully calming. We played one movement in high school orchestra, I fell in love with it and wore out a recording on cassette.

But that recording became the definitive version for me, and I often tend to find fault with how others perform it.
posted by Foosnark at 8:35 PM on October 3, 2013

that little exchange between Nigel and the cello player at about 55 minutes in is interesting...
posted by HuronBob at 8:54 PM on October 3, 2013

Top geezer, innit, man?
posted by Decani at 3:30 AM on October 4, 2013

Thanks for this post. I have loved the Four Seasons ever since listening to the dramatized Vivaldi's Ring of Mystery as a kid, and come back to them as study or background music when motivating myself through tedious tasks. Or dancing through the rain, occasionally.

What sticks out for me about these performances is the joy and enthusiasm that all the musicians seem to have. Clearly Nigel Kennedy is a force of nature.
posted by warm_planet at 12:38 PM on October 4, 2013

I dearly love Nigel Kennedy. His recording of Beethoven's violin concerto from the '90s is one of my very favorite things to listen to ever. I also enjoy his Vivaldi, and I'm looking forward to listening to this recording later tonight.
posted by ob1quixote at 1:39 PM on October 4, 2013

Thank you, nostrada. This is very enjoyable.

At 17:00: absolutely wonderful!
posted by Bokmakierie at 4:39 PM on October 9, 2013

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