lunes, 4 de febrero de 2008

Baroque Music I - Vivaldi

Guess what my computer's name is? It's Antonio, in honor of Antonio Vivaldi. I love Vivaldi. He's amazing, he's got such a power! Listen to that BOMB. So much energy, so much life! There is just everything in his music. Sometimes he's melancholic, sometimes playful and light. He's painfully sensitive at times, he can be deeply sad, express desolate sorrow, and also sound upbeat and joyous. He's enthusiastic, exuberant, funny and a bit crazy.

He's just beautiful.

I have a burning passion for baroque music in general, and Vivaldi especially. Since one post would not be enough to cover baroque anyway, I'm just going to start with him.

If you don't know this kind of music yet, please take your time and concentrate when you listen to it. You'll probably need a while to get used to it and notice how beautiful it is. At least that's what most people say. I don't know, I fell for baroque within two minutes when I first heard it.

The Four Seasons

You probably know his most famous work, The Four Seasons, even if you don't know that you know it. It's so famous that you can even hear it as background music in the supermarket from time to time, at least in France. Here's the beginning, it'll seem familiar to you: La Primavera (Spring).

There are many different interpretations of this work, this one was Nigel Kennedy. Here another piece, conducted by Fabio Biondi: L'Invierno (Winter). Isn't that totally powerful?

And this one is just amazing! Nigel Kennedy again. Listen to that energy, to that tremendous force! L'Estate (Summer).

On a side note, this last piece inspired many modern musicians. For example here's a techno-remix by Vanessa Mae, and that's Jean-Michel Jarre's version.

Instrumental music

So what did Vivaldi write besides supermarket music? Among other things, a lot of instrumental music. Some nasty people say he wrote the same concerto a thousand times. ;) He mostly wrote lots of concerti indeed, with or without a solo instrument. The Four Seasons are concerti too. Here just a few more.

His concerti generally have three parts: the first one fast, the second one slower and more contemplative, or even sad, and the third one fast again, shorter and brighter than the first one.

This violin concerto is one of the most famous ones. Here the version by Nigel Kennedy (solo violin) and Berlin Philharmoniker:
Part one, Allegro (Allegro = cheerful, lively)
Part two, Largo (Largo = slow) Listen how sensitive and melancholic....
Part three, Presto (Presto = quick, fast) The final firework!

You'll find more nice concerti to listen to later at the bottom of the page, if you like that stuff. I want you to listen to the rest first, before you reach the saturation point.

Vocal music

His vocal music is what I love most about Vivaldi. I'm a fervent fan of baroque singing, and what he created is just amazing. There are operas and other pieces with secular topics, but in my eyes his religious music is the most beautiful ever. Listening to it is for me an extremely intensive and exhalting experience.

I was very lucky to find several nice versions of the aria Cum Dederit on youtube. That's a part of the motet Nisi Dominus and one of my favorite arias ever. In this one, Cum Dederit and Amen are sung by Philippe Jaroussky, a great countertenor. I love this wonderful guy, and I love the Ensemble Matheus and conductor Jean-Christophe Spinosi. It's simple, I'm in HEAVEN when I hear that!!!
Philippe Jaroussky, Cum Dederit, Amen

What you heard in the second part of the previous video is the beginning of Vivaldi's Stabat Mater. It's basically about Maria's pain when she must see her son die on the cross, so it's very sad, and that's why the singer Marie-Nicole Lemieux looks like she's suffering so much. I love the Stabat Mater! Here are two small extracts of Andreas Scholl, another countertenor, singing it. If I'm not wrong, it's with Chiara Banchini and her Ensemble 415, in case you want to buy the CD:
Andreas Scholl, Stabat Mater Dolorosa
Andreas Scholl, O Quam Tristis (which means "oh how sad")

Vivaldi also wrote some choral music. His Gloria is a mix of chorals and arias for one or two singers. This very CD with Alessandrini as conductor is the first bit of baroque music I discovered and it was a revelation. I heard it and fell in love immediately.
Gloria, choral.
Here an extract of another version, in my opinion not so good, but just for you to hear an aria:
Gloria, Laudamus Te

You also have to hear some opera. Listen to Philippe Jaroussky in this fantastic aria, isn't he absolutely wonderful?!
And in that one, he's playing a singers fight together with Marie-Nicole Lemieux, that's SO funny, I LOL every time I watch it: Nel Profondo modified.

Well, that's my Vivaldi. If you like it, here's more material:

More singing

Here the same extracts of Nisi Dominus as above, this time sung by Andreas Scholl with the Australian Brandenbourg Orchestra & Paul Dyer:
Andreas Scholl, Cum Dederit
Andreas Scholl, Amen
I had this CD and absolutely loved it, but someone borrowed it and never gave it back, and of course I don't remember who that was, since I give my things away all the time.

And here's the complete Nisi Dominus by Sara Mingardo, with the Concerto Italiano & Rinaldo Alessandrini. Part two begins with the aria Cum Dederit that we've already listened to twice. It's very interesting to compare the versions!
Nisi Dominus, Part one
Nisi Dominus, Part two
Nisi Dominus, Part three

If you liked Sara Mingardo, the Concerto Italiano & Rinaldo Alessandrini, I found two more complete CDs:

Here's more choral singing: Magnificat. Wonderful, especially in part two the aria Esurientes. I loooove it. Listen to it very loud!
Magnificat, Part one
Magnificat, Part two

And here's a Salve Regina.
Salve Regina, Part one
Salve Regina, Part two
Salve Regina, Part three

More Concerti

This one is very nice: Concerto for 4 violins and strings (Europa Galante & Fabio Biondi).

Here a peaceful Concerto for Lute (Il Giardino Armonico & Giovanni Antonini).

This one with mandolin is so beautiful! (even though I would have played the second part much slower) : Concerto in C Major (Il Giardino Armonico & Giovanni Antonini).

I find this one heavy, suffering, and in the third part conquering and forceful. A darker side of Vivaldi. No matter how he feels, it's beautiful: Allegro - Largo - Allegro (Europa Galante & Fabio Biondi).

A light, fast and playful one: Concerto for strings "Alla rustica" (Europa Galante & Fabio Biondi).

What I love particulary are his concerti for cello. Here you have a very brilliant and elegant one: Allegro - Largo - Allegro (Europa Galante & Fabio Biondi). I don't know about you, but it makes me happy!