A lutenist is a good companion for autumn

Colour. © Charles Thibo

A pleasing tune to enchant you and me, a lively melody to keep us company on a fall day, a companion unburdened by the evils of the world, cheering us up in case we need it or simply giving us some comfort by being there – such is Antonio Vivaldi’s Concerto for Viola d’Amore and Lute in D minor (RV 540), performed by Rachel Barton Pine (viola), Hopkinson Smith (lute) and the ensemble Ars Antigua.

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Shiver and tremble at the sound of the viola!

Vivaldi thunderstorm
The storm closes in. © Charles Thibo

A month ago we experienced our first severe thunderstorm of the year. We saw it coming from afar. We saw the lightning illuminating distant clouds. It was dead silent. It was dark except for the occasional stroke of light at the horizon. Then came the growling, slow, persistent, menacing. Tension was mounting. Then came the wind. Gusts, triggered by the approaching rain. Time to duck for cover. I was outside until the first rain drops fell, to witness this natural phenomenon that fascinates since I was a child. I used to observe thunderstorms with my father from the terrace on. One of these father-son moments…

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Count Durazzo’s collection of manuscripts unearthed

A splash of colour © Charles Thibo

The high grass combined with the thimbleweed that my wife planted in front of our kitchen window keeps fascinating me. The colours and shapes change with the seasons, add the changing light of a grey or a sunny day and you get plenty of variations. Two aspects however remain the same: the plants’ elegance and the contrast between two different forms, the line and the dot. Elegance and contrast are two common aspects of Baroque music too and a delightful example is Antonio Vivaldi’s Concerto for two Mandolins, Strings and Continuo in G major, RV 532.

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The Venice competition of harmony and invention

Vivaldi - inspiring like the flowers in our garden. © Amélie Wohlgenannt
Vivaldi – inspiring like the flowers in our garden. © Amélie Wohlgenannt

Can I write about Antonio Vivaldi’s Violin Concertos commonly know as “Le Quattro Stagioni” (The Four Seasons) without boring you? Vivaldi succeeded in an admirable way to paint with notes the sounds heard during the different seasons: the birds at spring time, a summer thunderstorm, the drinking and dancing on a late summer night, the bitter winter frost… Everything worth saying or writing about this piece has been said and written. Really? I hope I can find a new angle. The four concertos “Spring” in E major, “Summer” in G minor, “Autumn” in F major, and “Winter” in F minor are part of those compositions that I can listen to over and over again. Why? Because I feel how every note speaks to me, resonates in my body and makes me shiver out of pure pleasure. And I am blessed since I have three recordings to choose from.

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