antonio vivaldi – four seasons

i needed something to listen to tonight that would not tax my brain too harshly. being that we’re in spring, heading for summer, this was a concept that i knew would leave me uplifted and hopeful.

in reality, while the music has been familiar to me since i was a child attempting to perform it on stringed instruments, the prompt for me buying this was the false memory that spring was a song used by the simpsons to signify the simple joys of childhood. that turned out to be beethoven’s pastoral symphony (6th).

i’ve hit upon something that is at least a partial explanation for the story-telling capacity of purely instrumental music. it’s not as though i doubted a long history of moving music, but the less obvious connections between genuinely classical music and a band like the dirty three are suddenly in clear relief. there’s a key difference, however, in that vivaldi’s music of the early eighteenth century paints clear though slightly fussy images in one’s mind, mostly of landscapes. dirty three, and admittedly not many others, manage to invoke emotional landscapes that are more capable of changing one’s mood and perspective irreversibly.

here, spring is perfect for what it is; summer seems too fast and violent; autumn is the most beautiful and winter is unpredictably light with a small amount of recognition of its challenges.

it is also conceptually strange compared to modern music, and perhaps even relative to its contemporaries. this is a suite of music almost designed to play in constant cycles, without break, given what it represents. it effectively has no beginning and no ending. like ouroboros.

equally strangely is the fact that, in some ways, this music had a kind of lyrical content, in so far as it was accompanied by related sonnets for each season, to aid in interpretation.

its ubiquity is in some ways its most notable feature. but this is, unquestionably, gorgeous music that will forever be ageless.


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