I’ve been surprised at how much classical music I can find on YouTube, including some excellent and unique performances. I have several mp3 albums on my iPod featuring an Italian baroque ensemble called Il Giardino Armonico, and earlier today discovered this performance of one of my favorite Vivaldi pieces, often called the Concerto for Four Violins, but more accurately called the Concerto for Four Violins and Violoncello, Strings, and Continuo (RV 580). The concerto is number ten from Vivaldi’s L’Estro Armonico (“Harmonic Inspiration”) – a set of amazing pieces that, if you’ve never listened to Vivaldi before, would get you hooked if you heard them all (I promise!).
There are quite a few other performance videos featuring the group on YouTube; try this search:
and you will find among the results some very stylized interpretations and video staging that is unusual for classical music videos. In several of the videos, the group combines their performing style with imagery and other video content that I can only describe as MTV meets Bach. I’ll highlight more of their videos here on this site in the future, but if you like Baroque music (or are learning to like it), treat yourself to at least a half hour of their fascinating work.
The video below is the same Vivaldi concerto, from a historic performance that includes violinists Pinchas Zukerman, Isaac Stern, Shlomo Mintz, and Ida Haendel. Some might consider it a more standard performance of the piece, which I suppose it’s true at least in the sense that it’s closer to the typical interpretation. It’s very different from the previous performance, yet when I compare the two, they seem equally wonderful to listen to.
“Many of Vivaldi’s compositions reflect a flamboyant, almost playful, exuberance. Most of Vivaldi’s repertoire was rediscovered only in the first half of the 20th century in Turin and Genoa and was published in the second half. Vivaldi’s music is innovative, breaking a consolidated tradition in schemes; he gave brightness to the formal and the rhythmic structure of the concerto, repeatedly looking for harmonic contrasts and innovative melodies and themes. Moreover, Vivaldi was able to compose nonacademic music, particularly meant to be appreciated by the wide public and not only by an intellectual minority. The joyful appearance of his music reveals in this regard a transmissible joy of composing; these are among the causes of the vast popularity of his music….”
This fine performance is from: