Domenica con Vivaldi: Duel, Dance, Strut, and Inspire

Antonio Vivaldi (March 4, 1678-July 28, 1741) composed over five hundred concertos, yet Stravinsky joked that Vivaldi actually wrote the same concerto five hundred times. Many of the Venetian composer/violinist’s concertos display similar traits, making them instantly recognizable as the work of the same artist. Yet how each performer (and listener) approaches Vivaldi’s concertos makes all the difference. “Sundays with Vivaldi” will take Il Prete Rosso’s concertos one at a time, and see whether each of these things is in fact like the others.

Concerto Number 10 in B Minor
RV 580
Solo Instrument: Four Violins and Cello
Published as Part of: Opus 3, “L’Estro Armonico
Ensemble: Il Giardino Armonico

Five soloists dueling over a seductive dance rhythm, followed by an incisive riff building suspense out of simple repetition [at 4:38], and capped off by a strutting finale that feels like it’s poised to reignite the whole affair in an infinite adrenaline loop [at 5:52]:

Silence in the presence of greatness, or just objectivity? Either way, for the tenth concerto in Vivaldi’s Opus 3, my favorite work of Vivaldi’s and one of my favorite pieces of music by any artist, in any genre, from any era, and on the man’s birthday, no less, I’ll just let the music speak for itself.

…or let Bach do the talking.  Yup, he loved this one too.  Here’s his stunning transcription for four keyboards:

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