Antonio Vivaldi, ‘The Four Seasons’ – ‘Autumn’, I Musici

Antonio Lucio Vivaldi, “Autumn”, “The Four Seasons” / “Le Quattro Stagioni” – “L’Autunno” – Concerto No. 3 in F major, Op. 8, RV 293
00:00 I. Allegro
05:18 II. Adagio molto
08:39 III. Allegro

Performers: I Musici Group
Violin Solo – Federico Agostini, 1988
Anton van Munster Film (1934-2009)

Other Concertos:
(1/4) Vivaldi – Spring –
(2/4) Vivaldi – Summer –
(3/4) Vivaldi – Autumn –
(4/4) Vivaldi – Winter –

Antonio Vivaldi must be regarded as the indisputable king of the Baroque instrumental concerto. Four concertos, known collectively as The Four Seasons, were first published in 1725 as part of a set of twelve concerti, Op. 8, entitled Il cimento dell’armonia e dell’inventione (The Contest Between Harmony and Invention) and remains the composer’s best-known and most characteristic work.

Aside from the features that have come to be associated with most of Vivaldi’s music – grace, virtuosity, energetic motoric rhythms – the concertos of The Four Seasons are remarkable for their extraordinary programmatic imagination, which is counterbalanced by close attention to formal structure. Each concerto is accompanied by a descriptive poem whose imagery becomes an essential element of the musical fabric. The birds that greet the season “with their joyful song” in La primavera (Spring), for example, are colorfully depicted in the work’s elaborately ornamented figuration. L’estate (Summer) is painted in similarly vivid colors that portray both the piping of a shepherd and a gathering storm. L’autunno (Autumn) is marked by a folksy harvest celebration and the galloping of a hunting party on horseback. The bleakness and dissonance of L’inverno (Winter) create a severe but expressive portrait that provides a striking summation of Vivaldi’s pictorial ingenuity in these four works.

This is the third of four violin concertos that make up Antonio Vivaldi’s popular cycle known as The Four Seasons. It is subtitled “Autumn” and, like the other concertos, is made up of three movements, with the usual fast-slow-fast scheme. Like the other “Seasons,” its music was written to depict pastoral scenes and events described in a sonnet that accompanies the score.

The first movement, marked Allegro, opens with a chipper, rhythmic theme that bears some resemblance to its effervescent counterpart in “Spring.” But here the music is a bit less buoyant, perhaps a tad more emphatic and muscular in its rhythmic features, too, but all to depict a hearty peasant celebration at the end of a bountiful harvest. Interspersed throughout the latter half are moments of repose, inserted perhaps to portray the deep sleep that has overcome those revelers who had imbibed too much liquor. Still, the music is mostly playful and carefree, even in the more intricate and colorful virtuosic solos for the violin.

The brief second movement sounds even slower than its Adagio molto marking would normally suggest. Its dreamy music represents the peasants at peaceful sleep.

The finale, marked Allegro, is joyous and thematically catchy in its colorful depiction of men embarking on a hunting escapade at dawn. The music played by the string orchestra has a stomping, march-like character, where the solo violin passages, here representing horn calls, are in contrast stately and elegant. At times, however, the solo violin’s music becomes quite energetic and makes formidable demands of the performer. On the whole, however, the mood remains festive and chipper, despite the slaying of a beast by the hunters.

This is the Vídeo of the most popular classical works of all. I Musici were the driving force in the rediscovery of Baroque repertoire and their CD recording of The Four Seasons is one of the best-selling Philips discs of all time. I Musici are still considered to be one of the greatest ‘modern’ string ensembles. These performances by I Musici were filmed in key locations around Vivaldi’s city of Venice. This aforementioned mega-hit video contain flashes of Venetian points of interest and art works. The film incorporates panoramic shots of the city as well as some of the great masterpieces of art to be found there by artists such as Canaletto, Guardi and Tintoretto. There are also shots of the fabulous costumes sported by Venice’s citizens during its unique winter Carnival. All the four video thumbnails movements are from the Venice Carnival in the 4th last movement.


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