Vivaldi’s Four Seasons has enchanted generations of music lovers with its vivid musical images of the natural world. Caramoor’s bucolic surroundings is the ideal setting to experience this work. The legendary tango composer, Astor Piazzolla was inspired by Vivaldi’s masterpiece to create his own “Four Seasons of Buenos Aires,” which Artist-in-Residence, Jason Vieaux will perform with bandoneonist Julien Labro. Vieaux has chosen Vivaldi’s beloved Guitar Concerto in D Major to open this program.
“Vieaux opened ears with his rhythmic clarity and remarkable left-hand facility … He made the single guitar seem like a body of instruments at work in music full of the emotion of loss.” – The Philadelphia Inquirer
Jason Vieaux, guitar
Julien Labro, bandoneon
Krista Bennion Feeney, violin
Orchestra of St. Luke’s
Vivaldi Guitar Concerto in D Major, RV 93 Piazzolla Cuatro Estaciones Porteñas for Guitar and Bandoneon – Intermission – VivaldiThe Four Seasons, Op. 8
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Grammy-winner Jason Vieaux, “perhaps the most precise and soulful classical guitarist of his generation” (NPR), is the guitarist that goes beyond the classical. His latest solo album, Play, won the 2015 Grammy for Best Classical Instrumental Solo.
Vieaux has earned a reputation for putting his expressiveness and virtuosity at the service of a remarkably wide range of music. Recent and future highlights include performances at the Caramoor Festival, Philadelphia Chamber Music Society, Ravinia Festival, New York’s 92Y, Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, Bard Music Festival, Music@Menlo, Strings Music Festival, and many others. He has performed as soloist with nearly 100 orchestras and his passion for new music has fostered premieres by Dan Visconti, Vivian Fung, José Luis Merlin, and more.
Jason Vieaux was the first classical musician to be featured on NPR’s popular “Tiny Desk” series and in 2011, he co-founded the guitar department at The Curtis Institute of Music.
Vieaux continues to bring important repertoire alive in the recording studio as well. His latest album Together, with harpist Yolanda Kondonassis, was released in January 2015. His previous eleven albums include a recording of Astor Piazzolla’s music with Julien Labro and A Far Cry Chamber Orchestra, Bach: Works for Lute, Vol. 1, Images of Metheny, and Sevilla: The Music of Isaac Albeniz. Vieaux was the first classical musician to be featured on NPR’s popular “Tiny Desk” series. Vieaux recently recorded Ginastera’s Sonata for Guitar for a Ginastera Centennial album produced by Kondonassis, which will be released in fall 2016 on Oberlin Music. His album with bandoneonist Julien Labro will also be released in fall 2016 on Azica.
In 2012, the Jason Vieaux School of Classical Guitar was launched with ArtistWorks Inc., an unprecedented technological interface that provides one-on-one online study with Vieaux for guitar students around the world. In 2011, he co-founded the guitar department at The Curtis Institute of Music, and in 2015 was invited to inaugurate the guitar program at the Eastern Music Festival. Vieaux has taught at the Cleveland Institute of Music since 1997, heading the guitar department since 2001.
Vieaux is affiliated with Philadelphia’s Astral Artists. In 1992 he was awarded the prestigious GFA International Guitar Competition First Prize, the event’s youngest winner ever. He is also honored with a Naumburg Foundation top prize, a Cleveland Institute of Music Alumni Achievement Award, and a Salon di Virtuosi Career Grant.
Jason Vieaux is represented by Jonathan Wentworth Associates, Ltd and plays a 2013 Gernot Wagner guitar.
Heralded as “the next accordion star,” Julien Labro has established himself as one of the foremost accordion and bandoneón players in both the classical and jazz genres. Deemed to be “a triple threat: brilliant technician, poetic melodist and cunning arranger,” his artistry, virtuosity, and creativity as a musician, composer and arranger have earned him international acclaim and continue to astonish audiences worldwide.
French-born Labro was influenced early on by traditional folk music and the melodic, lyrical quality of the French chanson. Upon discovering the music of jazz legends like Charlie Parker and Miles Davis, he quickly became inspired by the originality, freedom, creativity, and the endless possibilities in their musical language.
Labro and Vieaux’s collaboration will also result in the release of a new album entitled Infusion, which will include new arrangement of music by Brouwer, Gnattali, and Metheny amongst others.
After graduating from the Marseille Conservatory of Music, Labro began winning international awards, taking first prize in the Coupe Mondiale in 1996 and the Castelfidardo Competitions in 1997. After sweeping first place in the Marcel Azzola, Jo Privat, and Medard Ferrero competitions in 1995 and 1998, respectively, Labro moved to the United States, where he earned graduate degrees in Classical Music, Jazz Studies, and Composition. During this time, he was exposed to and embraced other genres of music, ranging from pop and hip-hop to electronic/techno and rap, as well as Latin, Indian, Middle Eastern, and other types of world music. Labro draws from both his diverse academic background and eclectic musical influences in his professional life as a performer, arranger, and composer. His passion for promoting the understanding and love of music has well been recognized through his master classes at renowned institutions such as the Oberlin Conservatory of Music and the Cleveland Institute of Music.
In the past, he has performed and/or collaborated with groups and artists such as Brazilian pianist João Donato, Argentinean Grammy winning composer and pianist Fernando Otero, vocalist Cassandra Wilson, clarinetist Anat Cohen, Lebanese oud master Marcel Khalife, saxophonists Miguel Zenón, James Carter, Chris Cheek, Jon Irabagon and Victor Goines, composers Du Yun and Avner Dorman, harmonica extraordinaire Howard Levy, percussionist Jamey Haddad, bandoneónist Daniel Binelli, and guitarists Howard Alden, Larry Coryell, Frank Vignola, Tommy Emmanuel, and John and Bucky Pizzarelli.
The new season will open with a trip to Jordan for the Jordan Citadel Festival in Amman, followed by several orchestral engagements throughout the United States, including a performance with the Arkansas Symphony and Jason Vieaux as part of the ACANSA Arts Festival. Labro and Vieaux’s collaboration will also result in the release of a new album entitled Infusion, which will include new arrangement of music by Brouwer, Gnattali, and Metheny amongst others. On the jazz side, Labro is also working on a new project with saxophonist Jon Irabagon, and preparing for a second tour with trumpet player Diego Urcola, while continuing to perform with the Julien Labro Quartet and Hot Club of Detroit. In his free time, Labro is working on composing a new bandoneón concerto that will be a sequel to his accordion concerto Apricity.
Krista Bennion Feeney, violin
Krista Bennion Feeney, violin, has enjoyed an unusually varied career, much in demand as a soloist, chamber musician, music director, and concertmaster. Krista is a concertmaster of Orchestra of St. Luke’s, a member of St. Luke’s Chamber Ensemble since 1983, and a frequent soloist with both ensembles. She is currently involved in rediscovering and reviving a musical sound world from the past, as the founding first violinist of the Serenade Orchestra and Quartet, specializing in music of the late-18th and 19th centuries with historic instrumental configurations. From 1999 to 2006, she was music director of the conductor-less New Century Chamber Orchestra based in San Francisco.
She has soloed several times with the San Francisco Symphony (debuting in Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto in E minor at age 15), and with the St. Louis Symphony, Philadelphia Chamber Orchestra (in the world premiere of SolTierraLuna, a concerto written for her by Terry Riley), Mostly Mozart, and New York String Orchestra at Carnegie Hall, and the Kennedy Center, in addition to several historic instrument ensembles. Highlights of the 2016/2017 season include a performance as violin soloist in The Lark Ascending by Vaughan Williams with Orchestra of St. Luke’s conducted by Sir Simon Rattle, and Nardini’s Violin Concerto in E minor and “La Campanella” from Paganini’s Violin Concerto No. 2 on historical violin with the American Classical Orchestra in May 2017.
Krista Bennion-Feeney is a concertmaster of Orchestra of St. Luke’s, a member of St. Luke’s Chamber Ensemble since 1983, and a frequent soloist with both ensembles.
She is the founding first violinist of the DNA Quintet, Loma Mar Quartet, and Ridge String Quartet (1979-1991), which, along with pianist Rudolf Firkusny, won the Diapason d’Or and a Grammy Award nomination in 1992 for its RCA recording of Dvorak’s Piano Quintets. The DNA Quintet (the Loma Mar Quartet with the addition of bassist John Feeney) has released world-premiere recordings of the string quartets and quintets of Domenico Dragonetti to critical and popular acclaim, bringing this uniquely beautiful music to light after being hidden for more than 165 years in the British Library. The Loma Mar Quartet has also recorded original works written for the ensemble by Paul McCartney for EMI, and its members were recently featured as soloists in Arnold Schoenberg’s Concerto for Quartet and Orchestra with the San Francisco Ballet Orchestra and with Orchestra of St. Luke’s for Paul Taylor’s American Modern Dance performances.
In May 2014, The New York Times praised Krista’s playing saying: “Her deep notes were rich and melancholy … there was a tender exuberance in both tumbles of notes and sustained phrases … a dramatic interplay of ferocity and light slyness.”
Orchestra of St. Luke’s (OSL) is one of America’s most versatile and distinguished orchestras, collaborating with the world’s greatest artists and performing approximately 80 concerts each year—including its Carnegie Hall Orchestra Series, Chamber Music Series at The Morgan Library & Museum and Brooklyn Museum, and the Caramoor Summer Season. In its 41-year history, OSL has commissioned more than 50 new works, has given more than 175 world, U.S., and New York City premieres; and has appeared on more than 100 recordings, including four Grammy Award winners and seven releases on its own label, St. Luke’s Collection. Pablo Heras-Casado is OSL’s principal conductor and the orchestra’s fourth titled conductor; previous music directors and principal conductors are Sir Roger Norrington, Sir Charles Mackerras, and Donald Runnicles. Bernard Labadie’s currently serves as Principal Conductor Designate.
OSL grew out of a chamber ensemble that began giving concerts at the Church of St. Luke in the Fields in Greenwich Village in 1974. Today, the 21 virtuoso artists of St. Luke’s Chamber Ensemble make up OSL’s artistic core.
In its 41-year history, OSL has commissioned more than 50 new works, has given more than 175 world, U.S., and New York City premieres; and has appeared on more than 100 recordings
OSL owns and operates The DiMenna Center for Classical Music in Midtown Manhattan, where it shares a building with the Baryshnikov Arts Center. The DiMenna Center is New York City’s premier venue for rehearsal, recording, and learning, having quickly gained a reputation for its superb acoustics, state-of-the-art facilities, and affordability. Since opening in 2011, The DiMenna Center has welcomed more than 100,000 visitors, including more than 400 ensembles and artists such as Renée Fleming, Susan Graham, Itzhak Perlman, Emanuel Ax, Joshua Bell, Valery Gergiev, James Levine, James Taylor, and Sting. OSL hosts hundreds of neighbors, families, and school children at its home each year for free community events.
Through its Education & Community programs, OSL has introduced audiences across New York City to live classical music. OSL brings free chamber concerts to the five boroughs; offers free interactive music programs at The DiMenna Center; provides chamber music coaching for adult amateurs; and engages 10,000 public school students each year through its Free School Concerts. In 2013, OSL launched Youth Orchestra of St. Luke’s (YOSL), an intensive in- and after-school instrumental instruction program emphasizing musical excellence and social development, in partnership with community organizations and public schools in the Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood.
Program at a Glance
Vivaldi’s Four Seasons has enchanted generations of music lovers with its vivid musical images of the natural world. Caramoor’s bucolic surroundings is the ideal setting to experience this work. The legendary tango composer, Astor Piazzolla was inspired by Vivaldi’s masterpiece to create his own Four Seasons of Buenos Aires, which Artist-in-Residence, Jason Vieaux will perform with bandoneonist Julien Labro. Vieaux has chosen Vivaldi’s beloved Guitar Concerto in D Major to open this program.
Guitar Concerto in D Major, RV 93
About the Composer
Vivaldi’s concertos made him for a time the most famous and influential Venetian composer of the day. The concertos established a style and a flexible form that other composers were able to use for decades but by his death even the concertos were beginning to fall into an oblivion. They began to emerge, almost by accident, as a by-product of Bach research in the nineteenth-century. The discovery that J.S. Bach had taken Vivaldi seriously enough to copy out entire works and to rework some of his violin concertos for keyboard and orchestra caused a generation of late nineteenth-century scholars to view Vivaldi in a more respectful light. In our own time, he has returned to prominence and popularity.
Vivaldi was fortunate to grow up in the Italian city with the richest musical tradition of his day. But by the time Antonio was born, his father was a professional musician and clearly gave his son early lessons on the violin. From childhood, he suffered from a “tightness of the chest” which has been variously interpreted as asthma or angina pectoris. The fragility of his health required an entourage devoted to his care, but it did not prevent him from undertaking extensive tours during the years of his greatest fame under traveling conditions that we would find daunting.
Vivaldi became a priest in March 1703, but he ceased saying mass almost immediately and had little or no experience in a pastoral capacity. In September of 1703 he joined the staff of the Pio Ospedale della Pietà as violin teacher and later as concert director. The institution was a charitable, state-run orphanage in which the girls were given special training in music. (The boys were taught more “practical” subjects, like carpentry and horseshoeing.) Their frequent concerts were a high point of the Venetian social and artistic season. Of course, the emphasis on musical training at these orphanages was not brought about solely from artistic motives on the part of the government, but rather to assure that the girls, when they came of age, could attract a husband who might support them and take them off the public rolls. Nonetheless at least some of them became professional musicians in their own right. It was for these talented girls that Vivaldi composed most of his sonatas and concertos.
About the Work
This work has become one of Vivaldi’s most famous concertos – but also one of the hardest to identify in the definitive Ryom catalogue (RV) of his works, because neither he himself nor the scholar Peter Ryom identifies it as a guitar concerto. Indeed, the guitar in the early eighteenth-century was a considerably smaller instrument (much narrower than the modern classical guitar, with, therefore, a smaller sounding board for resonance), and used more as a folk or popular instrument than as a concert instrument.
What Vivaldi actually wrote for was the lute, a round-bellied instrument whose strings were plucked (like those of the guitar) which was reaching the end of its centuries-long history. (To complicate matters, Vivaldi considered the two violin parts to have equal prominence as the solo lute, so he described it as a concerto for lute and two violins, for which reason Ryom catalogued it under the group of very small category of concertos intended to be played the “more than two instruments of different types.” Indeed, Vivaldi probably intended performance by a group as small as five players – the lute, two violins, and the basso continuo, which might be performed by just a harpsichord and a cello.
Modern performers – and especially guitarists, who have few enough concertos by earlier classical composers – prefer to think of the piece as a solo concerto with a small orchestral ensemble behind them, and since Vivaldi composed literally hundreds of those, there is no reason why they shouldn’t see the work in that light.
A Deeper Listen
We know nothing about the circumstances of the composition or performance of the lute/guitar concerto. But it falls into the typical pattern of the Italian concerto that Vivaldi himself so thoroughly developed, with the vigorous and driving first movement, alternating the main opening idea for full ensemble (called a “ritornello”—that which returns—because it keeps coming back in different keys, finally ending in the home key) with the episodes for the soloist, accompanied only by the continuo, to show off his abilities. In this piece, the tunefulness and rhythm of the material suggests a popular flavor that would have been entirely suitable to the plucked string instruments of Vivaldi’s day.
The slow movement allows the soloist to display a sustained, lyric, legato sound (which is particularly challenging on the guitar); Vivaldi gives the player a touching melody that evolves into a slow dance that grows more and more expressive. The finale reverts to the energy of the opening movement and offers a bright, lively close.
Las cuatro estaciones porteñas
(The Four Seasons of Buenos Aires)
About the Composer
The Argentine composer Astor Piazzolla traveled to Paris to study with the most famous composition teacher of the time, Nadia Boulanger. She had already played an important role in working with many composers, starting with Aaron Copland, and she was a good friend of Stravinsky’s. Piazzolla came to her hoping to learn to write the kind of contemporary music that was developing in Europe at the time. Regarding the tango music he had played and written most of his life, he was very modest, considering it just “the music of the common people back home.” But after telling him he had talent on the basis of his “advanced” works, she asked to hear what he wrote in Argentina, and she would not be denied when he tried to demur. When he played some of his tangos, she said at once that this was the real Piazzolla, that he had found his true voice in the tradition of tango.
In the United States, the tango was a popular dance genre first introduced from Latin America by Vernon and Irene Castle in 1914 and then used for such popular songs as Sigmund Romberg’s “Softly, as in a Morning Sunrise” from the operetta The New Moon, 1928. Just as American jazz developed in the yeasty mix of cultures in New Orleans, Argentine tango blends elements of European – Spanish, Jewish, German, and Italian – with New World elements. Tangos in America came to be associated in the popular mind with bordellos and lascivious activity, partly through the films of Rudolph Valentino, a favorite with female audiences in the ’20s for his sultry sensuality. By midcentury, tangos were parodied in Broadway shows (as in “Hernando’s Hideaway” from Pajama Game, 1954). But in Latin America, the tango went through no such decline. It was and has remained a popular form of music-making, often approaching the level of light classics.
Piazzolla was extremely popular in his homeland as a composer of dances and songs, but he also extended the concept of tango to a degree not recognized by many purists, who wished to stick with the old-fashioned tradition. Indeed, it would be fair to compare Piazzolla to a handful of other composers who succeeded in elevating popular dance genres to substantial works of art – Chopin, Johann Strauss the younger, and Scott Joplin. Each of these composers were able to reveal unsuspected riches in a “simple” dance form. The Chopin mazurkas, which evoke an astonishing range of expression from the most exuberant and extrovert to a dark intimacy, perhaps come closest to serving as an analogy to Piazzolla’s achievements with the tango.
Piazzolla composed a large repertory of piece for his standard ensembles, especially a quintet including his own favored instrument, the bandoneon (a type of concertina). But he also wrote concertos and even opera in tango style. His music was sought after by so many others, that his works have been transcribed into a wide range of combination, including the version heard here for strings and guitar.
About the Work
The bulk of Piazzolla’s output is in the form of chamber music for a quintet featuring his own instrument, the bandoneon, a type of button-accordion, or concertina, developed in Germany about 1840, which became the principal solo instrument connected with the tango in Argentina at the beginning of this century. Piazzolla himself was a leading exponent of the bandoneon, performing and recording frequently with the instrument. But he also composed in larger forms as well. Moreover, his work falls in a free-wheeling area between what we customarily think of as “classical” and “popular,” and it has invited arrangements – sometimes by Piazzolla himself, often by others – for many different kinds of scoring, for anything from guitar solo to full orchestra.
The Cuatro Estaciones porteñas (the last word is an adjective referring to a “port city,” but in Argentine Spanish that means only Buenos Aires) cover a remarkable range of moods and sounds, tracing a kind of programmatic circuit of the seasons, beginning in the spring and progressing through to winter. These are not pieces intended for dancing, but rather for serious listening. The programmatic titles (“Buenos Aires Spring,” and so on) are general enough to avoid suggesting any specific visual images. The result is purely abstract music, passionate, songful, dark, romantic, rhythmic—imbued with the spirit of everything connoted by the word “tango.”
The Four Seasons, Op. 8
About the Work
Vivaldi published The Four Seasons as the first four concertos in his Opus 8, a set of twelve issued in Amsterdam in 1725. His fanciful title to the whole set, Il Cimento dell’Armonia e dell’Inventione (“The Test of Harmony and Invention”) hints that its contents were in some way extraordinary. The “test” in question involves the ability of music to depict specific programmatic ideas. This is particularly true of the first four concertos, entitled Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter.
Vivaldi had no doubt performed the concertos himself on many occasions before they were published. In a live concert he could explain the program to each of the pieces, but for the publication, he chose to add four Italian sonnets, one describing each of the four concertos, and its sequence of events. And he went farther – he actually entered into the player’s instrumental parts brief descriptions of what was supposed to be happening.
This extraordinary effort was perhaps necessary because the Opus 8 concertos – and especially The Four Seasons – departed from the classic ritornello form established by Vivaldi himself in his Opus 3. There he had opened his concertos with an extended orchestral passage (called a “ritornello” because the material keeps returning) for full orchestra. This was designed to lay out the thematic ideas and identify the home key with rock-solid clarity. It would recur, often abridged, in various keys as the movement progressed, alternating with the soloist’s flights of invention.
A Deeper Listen
In The Four Seasons, Vivaldi’s ritornelli depict the continuing natural phenomena of the seasons, while the episodes provide vivid sound-pictures of events. Sometimes these are general, as in Spring: “Song of the birds,” “The brooks flow,” “Thunderclaps,” and “Song of the birds” again.
Others are charmingly specific. The slow movement of Spring, for example, notes that the orchestral violins represent “The murmuring of the boughs and the grasses,” the repeated viola notes on middle C are “The barking dog,” and the gentle solo line above it all is “The sleeping goatherd.” The final movement is a “Pastoral dance.”
Summer’s main feature is “Languor from the heat,” though there are appearances in the episodes by various birds: “The cuckoo,” “The turtle-dove,” “The goldfinch,” and various breezes—“Sweet zephyrs,” “Diverse winds,” and “The [north] wind Boreas.” The result—given the amount of work to be done in the heat, is “The weeping peasant.” The slow movement buzzes frantically with “Flies and hornets,” while the concerto ends with “Unruly summer weather.”
Autumn shows Vivaldi’s keen sense of humor. The ritornello of the opening movement offers the “Song and dance of the peasants,” but the episodes reveal that they are celebrating too much, because each one suggests various images of drunkenness. The slow movement, then, necessarily depicts “Sleeping drunkards,” the crowd sleeping off their merrymaking. Once they wake up for the finale, however, they are ready for “The hunt,” with episodes of “The fleeing prey,” “Guns and hounds,” and the inevitable end, “The fleeing prey dies.”
Winter, finally, offers a vivid image of the season’s weather, starting with “Frightful wind,” and the vigorous “Running and stamping one’s feet from the cold,” a musical gesture that is strikingly pictorial. More “Winds” lead to a clear chattering of teeth, mentioned in the sonnet though not marked in the score. The slow movement depicts “Rain,” dripping ice-cold. And the finale suggests “Walking slowly and with fear,” “Falling down,” “Running fast” and finally a battle between “The sirocco wind” [a hopeful warm breeze] and “Boreas [the cold north wind] and all the other winds.”
At the same time that his music provides these vivid and even witty images, Vivaldi’s concertos do exactly what a concerto is supposed to do: allow the solo violinist opportunities to display virtuosity and expressive prowess. The listener can enjoy the structure of the concerto while sharing in the delight of the composer’s imaginative use of melody, rhythm, harmony, and texture to create vivid tone-paintings.
Vivaldi’s sonnets for The Four Seasons
Giunt’ é la Primavera e festosetti
La salutan gli Augei con lieto canto,
Ei fonti allo spirar de’ Zefiretti
Con dolce mormorio scorrono intanto:
Vengon coprendo l’aer di nero amanto
E Lampi, e tuoni ad annuntiarla eletti
Indi, tacendo questi, gli Augelletti
Tornan di nuovo al lor canoro incanto:
E quindi sul fiorito ameno prato
Al caro mormorio di fronde e piante
Dorme’l Caprar col fido can a lato.
Di pastoral Zampogna al suon festante
Danzan Ninfe e Pastore nel tetto amato
Di Primavera all’apparir brillante.
Sotto dura staggion dal sole accesa
Langue l’huom, langue ‘l gregge,
ed arde il Pino;
Scioglie il cucco la Voce, e tosto intesa
Canta la Tortorella e’l gardelino.
Zeffiro dolce spira, ma contesa
Muove Borea improviso al suo vicino;
E piange il Pastorel, perchè sospesa
Teme fiere borasca, e’l suo destino;
Toglie alle membre lasse il suo riposo
Il timore de’ Lampi, e tuoni fieri
E de mosche, e mosconi il stuol furioso!
Ah che pur troppo i suo timor son veri.
Tuona il fulmina il Ciel e grandinoso
Tronca il capo alle spiche e a’ grani alteri.
Celebra il Vilanel con balli e Canti
Del felice raccolto il bel piacere;
E del liquor di Bacco accesi tanti
Finiscono col sonno il lor godere.
Fa ch’ognuno tralasci e balli e canti,
L’aria che temperata dà piacere;
É la staggio ch’invita tanti e tanti
D’un dolcissimo sonno al bel godere.
I cacciator alla nov’alba à caccia
Agghiacciato tremar tra nevi algenti
Al severo spirar d’orrido Vento,
Correr battendo i piedi ogni momento;
E pel soverchio gel battere i denti;
Passar al foco i dì quieti e contenti
Mentre la pioggia fuor bagna ben cento.
Camminar sopra il ghiaccio, e a passo lento
Per timor di cader, girsene intenti;
Gir forte, sdruciolar, cader a terra,
Di nuovo ir sopra’l ghiaccio e correr forte
Sinch’il si rompe, e si disserra;
Sentir uscir dalle serrate porte
Siroco Borea e tutti i Venti in guerra.
Quest’é’l verno, mà tal, che gioia apporte!
– Antonio Vivaldi
Spring has arrived, and merrily
the birds greet it with happy song;
and the brooks, at the breath of Zephyrs,
with sweet murmuring rush along.
Then, covering the air with a black cloak,
come lightning and thunder selected to
herald it, then, when they are silent,
the little birds return anew to their
And now in the pleasant flowery meadow,
to the soft murmur of boughs and grasses,
sleeps the goatherd, his faithful dog at his side.
To the festive sound of pastoral bagpipes
Nymphs and Shepherds dance under their
beloved sky at Spring’s sparkling arrival.
In the harsh season parched by the sun
man and flock languish, and the pine withers.
The cuckoo raises its voice and, when it’s heard,
the turtledove and goldfinch sing.
Zephyr blows sweetly, but, in contest,
Boreas suddenly moves nearby; and the
shepherd boy weeps, for, in suspense, he
fears the violent storm and his own fate.
His weary limbs are deprived of rest by
fear of lightning and wild thunder, and by
the furious swarm of flies and bluebottles!
Unfortunately his fears are justified.
The sky fills with thunder and lightning,
and hail decapitates the proud stalks of grain.
The peasant celebrates with dance and
song the pleasures of the happy harvest.
And glowing with the wine of Bacchus,
many end their merrymaking with sleep.
The mild air that gives such pleasure
causes all to leave off dancing and singing;
it is the season that invites all and sundry
to the fair delights of sweet sleep.
The hunters, a-hunting at dawn
Trembling, frozen, in the icy snow,
at the horrid wind’s harsh breath,
running while constantly stamping one’s
feet, and feeling the teeth chatter from the
Passing quiet and contented days by the fire
while outside the rain soaks people by the
hundreds; walking on the ice with slow
steps for fear of falling, turning cautiously;
Turning suddenly, slipping, falling down,
going on the ice again and running fast
until the ice breaks open;
Hearing, as they burst through the bolted doors,
Sirocco, Boreas, and all the winds at war.
This is winter, and it brings such joy!