Tone Poem Tuesday

Antonio Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons is one of the great stalwart works of all classical music.

It’s also a work that…I just don’t like very much. At all. I’ve never warmed to it. It honestly does nothing for me. For years I concluded that I didn’t like Vivaldi, because I have never managed to turn myself around on The Four Seasons. Luckily, I eventually realized that Vivaldi wrote a lot of music that’s just fine and it’s just the one piece I didn’t much care for; this happens. (See Ravel and “Bolero”, for example…and even my favorite composers have works that don’t thrill me much, such as Berlioz’s Te Deum, which is…OK, I guess, if you like that sort of thing.)

But here’s the thing about The Four Seasons: it’s a concept that surely didn’t occur only to Vivaldi in 1718, right? Surely some composer in the three hundred years since has tried to address this concept.

Enter Argentine composer Astor Piazzola (1921-1992), who was known for his skill at composing for the national dance of Argentina, the Tango. Thus his suite of seasonal-based works consists of a set of tangos, as opposed to a set of baroque concertos, a la Vivaldi. (Also, Piazzola’s suite wasn’t even composed intentionally as a suite but was rather four different works gathered together into a suite. Many works of art come from a messy creation story!)

Still, this suite makes for a fascinatingly energetic and refreshing listen as you let Piazzola guide you through his dance-version of the four seasons of his Southern Hemisphere home. Here is The Four Seasons of Buenos Aires, by Astor Piazzola.

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2 Responses to Tone Poem Tuesday

  1. Roger says:

    Interesting, though, that there were a couple of times early when it seemed to echo the Vivaldi, esp around the six-minute mark.

  2. fillyjonk says:

    Tchaikovsky, too, had his Four Seasons. As did that old sot Glasunov. (I have read that Rachmaninoff’s “writers block” may have been exacerbated by the fact that Glasunov conducted a program of Rachmaninoff’s music while under the influence, and did it very badly, and Rachmaninoff thought the performance sounded bad – and apparently it was poorly received)

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