Baroque at its best
From the Four Seasons to the Brandenburg Concertos
Antti Tikkanen, violin and leading
Pauliina Fred, traverso
Irma Niskanen, violin
Petteri Pitko, harpsichord
Finnish Baroque Orchestra
Johann Sebastian Bach and Antonio Vivaldi were the masters of the Baroque, and their works represent the most iconic music of the 18th century. In the hands of popular culture, Bach and Vivaldi have, however, just like Mozart and Beethoven, been eroded to tame museum items. But in their own time, the gentlemen in wigs were everything but old hat. Vivaldi was a spirited innovator who developed the success product of Baroque music – the virtuosic solo concerto. Vivaldi’s style was also admired by Bach, whose intelligent musical architecture was deemed old-fashioned by his contemporaries. Usually the case was that Bach’s music was too difficult for the musicians playing it, and the listeners never got to experience its endless ingenuity. Many of Bach’s pieces were never appreciated during his lifetime. Presumably, not even the Brandenburg Concertos were ever performed all together, but instead they were left to collect dust in the library of the Margrave of Brandenburg.
Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, which nowadays are worn down by ads and from being played as queue music, were something absolutely radical in their own time. A poetical story had been slipped into the collection of four violin concertos, and it depicted the change of the seasons from the joy of spring to summer thunders, and from harvest dances to winter weather. Never before had instrumental music without words carried a story forward by imitating the barking of a dog or the wheeling of a whirlwind.
Did Bach and Vivaldi know each other? It is unlikely that they ever met. Vivaldi’s music was, however, on every composer’s lips in Germany during Bach’s time, and Bach studied Vivaldi’s concertos with enthusiasm, and he also rearranged them. Vivaldi, on the other hand, admired the art-filled court of the prince-elector in Dresden, where Bach was in favour.
Duration: 1 h 15 min (no intermission)