This concert is sponsored by Char & Larry Burgess and the Will J. Reid Foundation
Ms. St John's appearance is sponsored by Luann Bangsund

The Four Seasons

featuring Lara St. John, violin

Antonio Vivaldi

Born 1678 in Venice, Italy| Died 1741 in Vienna, Austria

Composed in c. 1720 | 37 minutes
In four movements: Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter
Scored for solo violin and strings

The Four Seasons of Buenos Aires

featuring Lara St. John, violin

Astor Piazzolla

Born 1921 in Mar del Plata, Argentina| Died 1992 in Buenos Aires, Argentina

Composed between 1965 and 1970| 25 minutes
In four movements: Summer, Winter, Spring, Autumn
Scored for solo violin and strings

Program Notes: Four Seasons

VIVALDI: The Four Seasons (Le quattro stagioni, Op. 8, nos. 1-4)

Antonio Vivaldi's The Four Seasons was composed around 1720 and stands as one of the most celebrated and recognizable works in the Baroque repertoire. This collection of four violin concertos, each representing a different season, showcases Vivaldi's innovative approach to both musical form and programmatic expression. The vivid imagery and evocative musical language of The Four Seasons have ensured its enduring popularity and widespread appeal.

1. Spring (La Primavera): Allegro - Largo - Allegro: The first concerto, dedicated to spring, bursts forth with the energy and vitality of the season. The opening Allegro paints a picture of birdsong, blooming flowers, and the overall renewal of nature. The central Largo provides a tranquil contrast, depicting a serene pastoral landscape. The concerto concludes with a lively Allegro, capturing the exuberance and joy of springtime festivities.

2. Summer (L'estate): Allegro non molto - Adagio - Presto: The second concerto, representing the intensity of summer, opens with a tempestuous Allegro non molto, symbolizing a thunderstorm. The Adagio that follows offers a moment of respite, evoking the heat of the summer sun. The concerto concludes with a spirited Presto, portraying the relentless energy of the season.

3. Autumn (L'autunno): Allegro - Adagio molto - Allegro: The third concerto, dedicated to autumn, features an opening Allegro filled with lively dances and the harvest's abundance. The Adagio molto that ensues captures the reflective and melancholic mood of the season. The concerto concludes with a buoyant Allegro, celebrating the joy and festivity associated with autumn.

4. Winter (L'inverno): Allegro non molto - Largo - Allegro: The final concerto, depicting winter, opens with an Allegro non molto that conveys the biting cold and harsh winds. The Largo, a slow movement, paints a serene, snow-covered landscape. The concerto concludes with a brisk Allegro, depicting the lively activity of winter sports and the cozy warmth of indoor gatherings.

Vivaldi's The Four Seasons is not only a masterpiece of Baroque music but also a groundbreaking example of program music, where the composer uses music to tell a narrative or depict a scene. The concertos are not merely descriptive but also showcase Vivaldi's inventive use of the concerto form, with virtuosic solo violin parts and innovative orchestration.

The Four Seasons continues to captivate audiences with its vibrant depiction of the changing seasons and its enduring influence on subsequent generations of composers. Vivaldi's gift for melody, his vivid imagination, and his ability to evoke the essence of each season make The Four Seasons a timeless and enchanting musical journey.

PIAZZOLLA: The Four Seasons of Buenos Aires (Cuatro Estaciones Porteñas)

Originally composed between 1965 and 1970, Astor Piazzolla's Four Seasons of Buenos Aires presents a captivating fusion of traditional Argentine tango and classical music elements. Originally conceived as separate works, these four pieces – "Verano Porteño" (Summer), "Otoño Porteño" (Autumn), "Invierno Porteño" (Winter), and "Primavera Porteña" (Spring) – collectively form a vibrant and innovative homage to Antonio Vivaldi's Baroque masterpiece, The Four Seasons. 

1. Otoño Porteño (Autumn) "Otoño Porteño" offers a melancholic reflection on the changing seasons. The tango rhythm persists, but now it is tinged with a sense of introspection and nostalgia. Piazzolla's harmonic language, influenced by jazz and contemporary music, adds a unique and sophisticated layer to the traditional tango form.

2. Invierno Porteño (Winter) The second piece paints a musical portrait of a Buenos Aires winter. A hauntingly beautiful and expressive melody unfolds against a backdrop of rhythmic pulsations, capturing the desolation and solitude of the season. Piazzolla's harmonies push the boundaries of traditional tango, infusing the music with a modern and introspective character.

3. Primavera Porteña (Spring) La primavera bursts forth with the exuberance of springtime in Buenos Aires. Piazzolla employs rapid rhythmic patterns and dynamic contrasts, creating a sense of celebration and renewal. The piece is a vibrant display of the composer's ability to blend the rhythmic intricacies of tango with the complexity and expressiveness of classical music.

4. Verano Porteño (Summer) The sultry intensity of summer in Buenos Aires is decipted in the final piece. Piazzolla infuses the traditional tango rhythm with a modern flair, creating a piece that sizzles with heat and passion. The violin, representing the traditional solo instrument, engages in a fiery dialogue with the ensemble, exploring the expressive and virtuosic possibilities of both tango and classical idioms.

Astor Piazzolla's Four Seasons of Buenos Aires is a testament to his innovative spirit and his desire to push the boundaries of traditional genres. By fusing the passionate and rhythmic world of tango with the structural sophistication of classical music, Piazzolla created a work that transcends cultural boundaries. The Four Seasons is a thrilling journey through the changing moods of Buenos Aires, showcasing Piazzolla's profound understanding of both the traditions he inherited and the musical language of his time.

In this work, Piazzolla invites listeners to experience the soul of Buenos Aires, capturing the essence of the city's vibrant culture and the emotional depth of its people. The Four Seasons of Buenos Aires remains a cornerstone of Piazzolla's legacy and a vivid example of the ever-evolving dialogue between tradition and innovation in the world of music.

Guest Artists

Lara St. John

Canadian-born violinist Lara St.John has been described as “something of a phenomenon” by The Strad and a “high-powered soloist” by The New York Times. She has performed as soloist with the orchestras of Cleveland, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Toronto, Montreal,Vancouver, Amsterdam, Queensland, Adelaide, Auckland, Tokyo, Kyoto, Shanghai, Hong Kong and São Paulo, as well as the Boston Pops, Royal Philharmonic, NDRSymphony, Ensemble Orchestral de Paris, Yomiuri Nippon Symphony, China Philharmonic, Orquestra Sinfonica Brasileira and Orquesta Sinfónica Nacional de México, among many others. Recitals in major concert halls have included New York, Boston, San Francisco, Washington, Prague, Berlin,Toronto, Montreal, Bogotá, Lima and the Forbidden City. 

Lara manages her own label, Ancalagon, which she founded in 1999. Her Mozart recording won a Juno Award in 2011. In 2014, her Schubert album was chosen as one of “the best CDs of spring” by Der Tagsesspiegel. Her 2016 album of reimagined folkmusic earned a five-star review from All About Jazz. Lara has been featured in People, US News and World Report, NPR’s All Things Considered, CNN, the CBC, the BBC, a Bravo! special and twice on the cover of Strings magazine.

In 2021 she was invested with the Order of Canada, for service to society and innovations that “ignite our imaginations.” Lara began playing the violin when she was two, made her first appearance as soloist with orchestra at age four, and her European debut at 10. She entered the Curtis Institute at 13. Lara owns and performs on the 1779 “Ex-Salubue” Guadagnini.

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