With a tip of the hat to the Larcom String Quartet, who performed the Allegro movement at a recent concert I attended, I give you one of my favorite pieces of the Italian Baroque – Vivaldi’s Concerto #4 in F minor, op. 8, RV 297, “L’Inverno” (Winter). The YouTube video below features a good performance by I Musici and an interesting video.
I intended to post this a few weeks ago when winter officially gave way to spring, but alas, my long trip got in the way. (Winter often hangs on into April in New England anyway, so I'm really not so very late!)
What I did not know about these popular “Four Seasons” concertos is that they were accompanied by sonnets that were possibly written by Vivaldi himself. At the concert, violinist Jessica Corwin recited L’Inverno before the quartet played the piece:
Allegro non molto
To tremble from cold in the icy snow,
In the harsh breath of a horrid wind;
To run, stamping one's feet every moment,
Our teeth chattering in the extreme cold
Before the fire to pass peaceful,
Contented days while the rain outside pours down.
We tread the icy path slowly and cautiously, for fear of tripping and falling.
Then turn abruptly, slip, crash on the ground and, rising, hasten on across the ice lest it cracks up.
We feel the chill north winds course through the home despite the locked and bolted doors...
this is winter, which nonetheless brings its own delights.[Note 1.]
1. The sonnets are available at Wikisource, http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/The_Four_Seasons_Sonnets. If you’re wondering why these sonnets don’t have fourteen lines, remember that they have been translated from the original Italian verse!