Excerpts from the original CD booklet:
Cimento del I'Armonia e deII'Invenzionc, Opera 8
The great popularity achieved by this set of twelve concertos
which go to make up "Il Cimento" is due to the first
four. Each one of these is dedicated to descriptions and evocations
of one of the year's seasons. This music
thus belongs to that important line of development which seeks
to represent nature. A great deal of the musical vocabulary
to be found in Haydn (Le Matin, Le Midi, Le Soir, 1761) and
in Beethoven (Pastorale, 1808) can be traced back to this cycle
however, despite this descriptive and evocative role, remain
an evident expression of the character and purpose of the musical
forms of the time, and are thus natural examples of the eighteenth-century
pieces Vivaldi achieves a truly magnificent use of the opportuni-ties
offered by strings. He invents new tones and alignments, and
ranges far and wide across the potentialities and capacities
of these instruments. There are forceful unisons, flights of
demisemiquavers, elegant mutes, and contrasts between strings
and pizzicato, to record the most obvious.
in F major for Violin, Strings and Organ (or Harpsichord) n.
This is the most famous of the four concertos. Like the other
three it is accom-panied by an explanatory sonnet, perhaps written
by Vivaldi himself which adds further force and verve to the
descriptive features of the music.
introductory verses open the allegro with the phrase: "Spring
has arrived to be greeted by the joyous birds". The song
of the birds is clearly heard and is entrusted to the three
solo violins in a way which is absolutely loyal to the rhythmic
structure. Immediately afterward "the springs flow with
sweet murmuring" and the violins imitate the running of
the water. We then encounter the episode of thunder and lighting
which is magnificently ren-dered by the violent repetition of
the same note.
other splendid descriptive elements are to be found in the largo.
They overlay each other and create an intense feeling of space:
"the murmuring of the leaves" expressed by the violins;
the image of the sleeping goatherd evoked by the first violin;
and the imitation of the barking "faithful dog" achieved
by tbe repeated notes of the violas.
in G minor for Violin, Strings and Organ (or Harpsichord) n.
This piece is rich in charm and is highly descriptive from the
very first moments of its allegro non molto. "In a state
of languor because of the heat" declare the notes on the
score and the music itself seems to languish suffocated by the
heat and the sun. We hear the song of the cuckoo, the lark and
other small birds; the calm of afternoon sleep disturbed by
the buzzing of the flies, as is so well expressed by the first
violin (adagio). A storm of musical instruments communicates
the "impetuous summer weather" (presto). Scales are
used to represent the lightning, notes are played over and over
again (as in "Spring"), and harmonic progressions
are employed to evoke the blowing of the wind.
in Fa major for Violin, Strings and Organ (or Harpsichord) n.
With the initial allegro "the dance and song of the village
children", Vivaldi describes a country scene made up of
the counterpoising of songs and dancing. In terms of melody
and rhythm, the rustic dance presented here certainly follows
a popular dance of the lime. The effects of the "liquid
of Bacchus" are evoked by a solo violin with notable virtuosity
(adagio molto) until the moment when everybody "finishes
their enjoyment by going to sleep". There are other important
images in this allegro when the "hunters go out with their
horns hunting at dawn, carrying guns and sticks".
in F minor for Violin Strings and Organ (or Harpsichord) n.
The whole of this fourth concerto communicates a strong feeling
of cold and of desperation, elements which we do not find in
the other pieces. The initial "frozen trembling amongst
the shining snows" (allegro non troppo) is achieved with
repeated notes which bring to mind a similar passage from "King
Arthur" by Henry Purcell (1659-1695). The adagio, with
the rain evoked by the plucking of the strings of the violins,
parallels the "return to the hearth, calm and happy".
"Walking upon the ice, falling down, running so hard that
the ice breaks and gives way", the "hard and searing
wind", and "all the winds of the world", are
the many telling descriptions which conclude this concerto.