Vancouver Symphony Orchestra

The Four Seasons

Dates and Venues 17 & 18 December, 2010 at 8pm | Orpheum Theatre AND 20 December, 2010 at 8pm | Bell Performing Arts Centre

Featured performers Dale Barltrop, violin; Alessandro Juliani, narrator

Programme Corelli Concerto Grosso in D Major, Telemann Don Quixote Suite, Vivaldi Four Seasons

Reviewer Ed Farolan

There's nothing like celebrating Christmas listening to Vivaldi's string concerts. His timeless classic The Four Seasons has been considered one of the world's most popular pieces of music for two-and-a-half centuries. The beautiful and exquisite interpretation by Australian Concertmaster Dale Barltrop and the VSO during their performance at the Bell Performing Arts Centre in Surrey was excellently executed. The Surrey audience stood in ovation with bravos for this performance.

In the first half of the programme, Narrator Alessandro Juliani gave comic relief as he did an interpretative reading of Cervantes' Don Quixote. Gerog Philipp Telemann's Don Quixote Suite in eight movements was influenced by the novel. I particularly liked the fifth movement, "Sanche Panche berne", and I knew Juliani studied this movement because his "up" and "down" interpretation matched Telemann's music. I noticed, however, that only seven movements were played. Either thee was an error in the programme, or I might have dozed off a bit, but the seventh movement, "Celui d'ane de Sanch", wasn't narrated and played.

The concert started off with Arcangelo Corelli's Concerto Grosso in D Major. Corelli's writing for violin influenced Vivaldi who went on to compose prolifically, particularly the gosso form which Corelli invented. Barltrop's interpretation of this grosso concert in four movements was exquisite.

Before performing Vivaldi, Barltrop reminded the audience to read the programme, as a set of sonnets depicting the four seasons, perhaps written by Vivaldi himself, was included. It was interesting to read the sonnets, close my eyes, and listen to the music. Vivaldi's Spring Concerto in E Major reflected the words in his sonnet: "Springtime is upon us. The birds celebrate her return with festive song...". And true enough, the vilins played to the allegro tune of birds chirpng in Spring.

The Winter Concerto in F Minor also reflected the sonnet's last movement, an Allegro, thus: "We tread the icy path...We feel the chill north winds...this is winter, which nonetheless brings its own delights."

Although the musicians were dressed informally (the audience member beside me me quipped: "Why aren't they dressed in tuxes?"), the music was delightful, and Vivaldi, wherever he is, was probably smiling joyfully.

© 2010 Ed Farolan