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A Springtime Celebration With Early Music Song And Dance

Time capsule for this episode: Allegory of Spring

In temperate regions, there is no more highly-anticipated season of the year than spring. After many long and dreary winter months, spring brings relief in the form of warmer weather, more sun, a welcoming outdoors, and the flowering of trees and other vegetation. Spring can be seen, heard, and felt.

Historically, spring has always been celebrated in one way or another. One of the most lasting ways is to feature the time of year in song. Since at least the Middle Ages, songs about spring have reminded us there is much to celebrate with the season’s arrival.

One piece of music that clearly says “spring” is the three-movement concerto, titled as such, from Antonio Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons.” It’s a piece that was very recognizable in Vivaldi’s time, especially in France, where composer Nicolas Chedeville put together his own arrangement of the complete seasons for small chamber ensemble. The result is familiar, but with a twist.

One of the biggest hits of the late Renaissance was a madrigal by Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina, who set music to a spring-themed poem entitled Vestiva i colli, or “Clothing the summits (hills).” The work proved so popular that many of his generation and those following borrowed it for their own purposes. Compositions based on Vestiva I colli survive for vocal and instrumental ensembles in versions for devotional use in church or for entertainment at home.

Our featured release keeps to the theme of spring. The L'Orfeo Baroque Orchestra performs excerpts from J.C.F. Fischer’s Le Journal du Printemps, or the “Spring Diary,” a collection of dances for orchestra.

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