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PostPosted: Fri Apr 08, 2011 7:44 am 
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I'm a big fan of Vivaldi's well known and often recorded "The Four Seasons" and was wondering if any CAMers also really like this piece, and which recording(s) of it they prefer. It seems like practically every violinist has taken a stab at this piece of music. It's interesting to me to hear the differences in pace, soloists' playing styles, the sound of the supporting orchestras, the varying acoustics of the recording locations, and so on...


I have the following recordings:

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Soloist unknown with Budapest Strings, 1988, Laserlight

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Nigel Kennedy with the English Chamber Orchestra, 1989, EMI

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Nadja Salerno-Sonnenburg with the Orchestra of St. Luke's, 1990, EMI (currently my favorite)

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Elmar Oliveira with the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, 1993, CVP

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Gil Shaham with the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, 1994, Deutsche Grammophon

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I also have Vanessa-Mae's "The Original Four Seasons and The Devil's Trill Sonata" on EMI, 1998, but that doesn't really count...


Which is your favorite version of "The Four Seasons"? I have yet to hear this piece on SACD. Does anyone have one they could recommend as being both exceptionally well played and recorded?

I'm also open to recommendations of similar pieces of music, so if you're knowledgeable in this area, feel free to steer me in the direction of your favorites. I'm finding classical music in general is an awfully deep pool to dive in without a lifeguard.

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 08, 2011 8:03 am 
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I like this piece a lot myself.

My favourite is the the following, which I have on CD and vinyl:
Gidon Kremer / LSO / Claudio Abbado
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 08, 2011 8:40 am 
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For me it seemed The Four Seasons had almost been turned into elevator music until I heard it interpreted by Il Giardino Armonico. This recording on period instruments treats Vivaldi as if he's still alive and kicking your ass about how to play his stuff. As much as I continue to enjoy this recording I was even more entranced with their album of Vivaldi violin concertos called "The Red Priest - Il Prete Rosso". It is muscular, enticing and appears to have deleted by the Teldec label.


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 08, 2011 9:03 am 
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I prefer this DVD version: Vivaldi - The Four Seasons / Von Karajan, Mutter, Berlin Philharmonic (1987)
Not that I have heard too many different variations, none from your list.


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 08, 2011 9:14 am 
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ChrisGranger wrote:
It's interesting to me to hear the differences in pace, soloists' playing styles, the sound of the supporting orchestras, the varying acoustics of the recording locations, and so on...

It's the very definition of a classical warhorse! :D

Anyway one of the more interesting versions in my collection includes narrations (in both English, and Italian or Latin, don't recall exactly) of poems before each movement, this apparently not an uncommon historical presentation of the work ... from the Wiki page:

wiki wrote:
The four concertos were written to go along with four sonnets. Though it is not known who wrote these sonnets, there is a theory that Vivaldi wrote them himself, given that each sonnet is broken down into three sections, neatly corresponding to a movement in the concerto. If Vivaldi in fact wrote the sonnets, The Four Seasons may be classified as program music, music that intends to evoke something extra-musical


I'm not fond of the Nigel Kennedy version, I like a powerful 4 Seasons but that version goes way over the top sounding more like a Rock Opera.


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 08, 2011 9:20 am 
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The SACD version I like the best is the one on the Delos label by the Moscow Chamber Orchestra. Superb performance and recording. You really get a feeling for the recording space. Plus, in a couple of spots, you can actually hear the musicians take a deep breath before an uptempo section...if you're into that aspect of playback of course... :wink:


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 08, 2011 11:12 am 
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ditto on: Il Giardino Armonico

I also have Neville Marriner/ Academy of St Martins in the Field in both lp and CD:

http://static.rateyourmusic.com/album_i ... 341156.jpg

both very different. The Marriner/ St Martins in the Field recording is a very smooth pre-authentic baroque style that flooded the markets some 10 years later. The Armonico disk is just plain fun and I think captures what The Red priest really wanted this music to do.

Kennedy made 2 recording and the 2nd is the best as I recall. I heard the 1st once and it struck me as excessive and tedious sawing.


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 08, 2011 11:34 am 
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I have five versions, mostly mentioned above (Kenndy, Sonnenberg, I Musici, a dull naxos one and an old DG one by Karajan. I might also have the Sir Neville one if I did not give it to my brother. Not a favourite piece for me but I play the I Musici one which just sounds right and so does the old Karajan if I want the Vivaldi as Beethoven presentation.

I have a Naxos cd boxed set of all kinds of Vivaldi music. The 4 Seasons is not great but there are lots of other gems in there. Worth exploring. Hyperion has done a great job with his sacred music which I enjoy.

I'm not a baroque guy or early music guy. I prefer the late classical, romantic or modern eras. But a little night music, water music, and 4 seasons set a lot of us off on discovering classical music. It's always good music and nice to hear.

Good topic. I think i will pull my collection off the shelf tonight to have a good listen to the ones I have.


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 08, 2011 12:10 pm 
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I have enjoyed Lara St. John's 2009 recording of
The Four Seasons, which is coupled with the
The Four Seasons of Buenos Aires by Piazzolla. Not a recording
for purists, but very energetic. The tango-based Piazzolla
piece provides an interesting contrast to the Vivaldi.


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 08, 2011 12:39 pm 
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I have a number of versions of the Four Seasons, on both vinyl and cd, including the above mentioned versions.
My favorite is the The Academy of St. Matin-in-the Fields with Alan Loveday (solo violin) directed by Neville Marriner on the Argo label (vinyl). The performance and recording , as stated above, is very smooth and enjoyable.

Pet


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 08, 2011 1:18 pm 
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I love Baroque music because it pulls down the electrical energy cycles in the brain. Almost no other music pulls the cycles of the brain down or slows the brain down as much as Baroque music. Someone said it better here:

For example, the Bulgarian Psychiatrist, Gorgi Lazanoff was able to show an increased capacity for learning, super learning, if you will, by playing Baroque music (1700's Bach, Vivaldi, Telemon, Handle) and having his students breathe in rhythm with the beat. It all goes to show that sound and music can have a profound effect on our health, and well being, not only physically, but also mentally and emotionally as well.

I look forward to reading how wonderful a 4 Seasons Blu-ray recording will be described.

-- 08 Apr 2011 21:19 --

I love Baroque music because it pulls down the electrical energy cycles in the brain. Almost no other music pulls the cycles of the brain down or slows the brain down as much as Baroque music. Someone said it better here:

For example, the Bulgarian Psychiatrist, Gorgi Lazanoff was able to show an increased capacity for learning, super learning, if you will, by playing Baroque music (1700's Bach, Vivaldi, Telemon, Handle) and having his students breathe in rhythm with the beat. It all goes to show that sound and music can have a profound effect on our health, and well being, not only physically, but also mentally and emotionally as well.

I look forward to reading how wonderful a 4 Seasons Blu-ray recording will be described.


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 08, 2011 1:41 pm 
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I really enjoy the Joshua Bell recording with Academy of St. Martin in the Fields on Sony. Haven't heard many others but the violin on a set amp is pure magic.

worth checking out.


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 08, 2011 2:10 pm 
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pet wrote:

My favorite is the The Academy of St. Martin-in-the Fields with Alan Loveday (solo violin) directed by Neville Marriner on the Argo label (vinyl). The performance and recording , as stated above, is very smooth and enjoyable.


Agreed. Loveday and ASMF is a superb performance and, I think, one of the pivotal recordings in the work's recorded history because it encouraged other ensembles and soloists to think 'outside the box' when approaching this masterpiece. I, too, have numerous versions of the Seasons—but over the years this is the one that has most consistently given me pleasure.

I own both the LP and CD versions.


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 08, 2011 2:10 pm 
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L'Estro Armonico Op.3 and The Trial of Harmony and Invension Op. 8 are two of Vivaldi's great works.

The Four Seasons are the first 4 violin concerti from Op. 8.

However, there is another 8 concerti, which are Op. 8 No. 5 to 12

but for some reason, No. 8 to 12 are are rarely recorded.


From the over 500 recordings of the Four Seasons, Jeanne Lamon and Tafelmusik's
is considered one of the top performances of The Four Seasons.

However, I prefer

Monica Huggett - Violin
Nicholas Kraemer - director
Raglan Baroque Players
Virgin 7243 5 61172 2 8

This disk includes Op. 8 No. 1 to 4 and also No. 5, 6, 10 and 11

Even though this is a 1989 CD, the sonics are quite good.
There is a duo pack of this, but for some reason, the sonics of the disks are not as good.


Two other Vivaldi disks I highly recommend are:

Vivaldi - 3 Cello Conceros & Sonatas
Christophe Coin & The Academy of Ancient Music
L’ Oiseau-Lyre 433 052-2

Vivaldi - La Viola da Gamba in Concerto
Jordi Savall
Aliavox AV9835


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 08, 2011 3:41 pm 
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Thanks for all the responses, everyone. I saw the Il Giardino Armonico, Lara St. John, and Joshua Bell versions while having a quick browse on Amazon.ca earlier. Good to know that they're worthwhile recordings and easy to obtain.

b3733366 and RalphH, I would have to agree re: the first Nigel Kennedy recording. I had heard it many years ago on a high-end (at the time) system and was more focused on the gear than the playing. I found it recently for a good price at a secondhand shop, so I picked it up... but I've only listened to it once or twice since. Not my favorite rendition by a long shot. Curious that it's so famous.

I don't have a SACD player yet, but finding a 'perfect' recording of this piece might be the kick in the pants I need to get me to add one to the system. I'll keep a lookout for versions mentioned.

Uunderhill, I am a little gun-shy after buying three L'Oiseau-Lyre discs and finding two of them had some strange distortion or veiling on the sound that I couldn't quite put my finger on, but found impossible to ignore. On the other hand, my prized possession is Jordi Savall and Montserrat Figueras "Cant de la Sibilla" so I would probably love Savall doing Vivaldi's music.

Again, thanks all.

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