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Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons” and the 21st Century

A new video of Vivaldi's "Four Seasons" with the Akademie für Alte Musik, Berlin, gives plenty of food for thought.

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Photo: Courtesy of the Artist

Midori Seiler is the violin soloist in a new video of Vivaldi's "Four Seasons" by the Akademie für Alte Musik, Berlin.

When people say “I love Vivaldi,” they most likely mean “I love Vivaldi’s ‘Four Seasons.’” And what’s not to love? Some of Antonio Vivaldi’s most exhilarating and poetic music can be found within the four concertos that make up the “Seasons.”

Its popular appeal is easily understood. As well as the need for ensembles to make their own recording of it despite the immense competition from other groups and individuals who have already gone down that road.

Getting Noticed

With all of that expectation, how is an ensemble supposed be noticed in a forest of “Seasons”?

The Akademie für Alte Musik, Berlin (Akamus) has come up with an ingenious, albeit unusual way of presenting them. Not just with a recording, but with a video. Take a look at the trailer:

Coupled with Jean-Fery Rebel’s “Elements” of 1737, the “Seasons” are presented as postmodern theater. Vivaldi’s evocative and unmistakably programmatic music now has a new layer and even a new storyline—all dictated by the staging.

The Akademie’s performance is excellent and its soloist, Midori Seiler, engaging.

But what does the elaborate choreography do for Vivaldi and our expectations? (For a piece that most everyone can recognize.)

A Good Thing?

You can watch the entire “Seasons,” beginning with the first of twelve videos, on Youtube and decide for yourself.

What do you make of it?

Bernard Gordillo

Bernard Gordillo was born in Managua, Nicaragua, and raised in New Orleans. He holds degrees from Centenary College of Louisiana, the Early Music Institute at Indiana University, and the Guildhall School of Music and Drama (London). Bernard also writes and hosts the Harmonia Early Music Podcast.

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