On Monday, July 16, the Carmel music community enjoyed two beautiful and contrasting performances of the Four Seasons at Sunset Center in Carmel-by-the-Sea. The first half of the program was Antonio Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, and the second half was Astor Piazzolla’s Four Seasons of Buenos Aires. Under the leadership of concertmaster and director Peter Hanson, members of the Festival Orchestra presented a fascinating and ultra-clear characterization of nature, elements and people.
Vivaldi’s Four Seasons was published in 1725 as part of a work called The Contest of Harmony and Invention. Because of the composer’s inclusion of sonnets with the work, the Festival Orchestra was able to present supertitles during the performance, which were nearly superfluous given the beautifully synchronized and well planned decisions on interpretation and execution. The songs of the birds in the opening of Spring, rendered sweetly by a trio of violins, were touching, and later, even the barking of the dog, characterized masterfully by one of the violists, could be heard next to the sleeping shepherd. The cuckoo’s song during Summer was beautifully voiced, and the sounds representing the hailstorm were vivid and captivating. The celebration of harvest and hunt during Autumn was underscored by a Bacchus presentation, which was unique and witty. The work culminated with a dramatic depiction of the elements in Winter, concluding with joy. This was a masterful and unique performance, with flourishes, ornamentation, dynamic balance and execution that is rarely heard. The audience was able to hear a refreshing and new interpretation that was breathtaking and unforgettable, and rose in a standing ovation afterward.
The introduction and performance of Astor Piazzolla’s Four Seasons of Buenos Aires was fascinating, witty, lush and beautiful. Piazzolla’s genius in orchestration made possible a fascinating journey in which the listener was truly transported to Buenos Aires. The music is in a world of its own, and the occasional reference to Vivaldi helped create a seamless historical transition across time, geography and culture. The contrasting between Piazzolla and Vivaldi diminished neither composer and introduced color, beauty and inspiration for all in attendance. The fugue at the end was entrancing, passionate and irresistible, which was a fitting end to a great performance. Again, the audience reacted with a standing ovation, and the performers returned to treat us to Piazzolla’s Oblivion, which was simply amazing.
Director and concertmaster Peter Hanson, along with the world class performers selected from the Festival Orchestra, deserve the highest praise for sharing an unforgettable evening with the Carmel community!