Random Records with Steve O

Antonio Vivaldi - The Four Seasons

Steve O - April 13, 2014

The Four Seasons

Wait a minute, this isn’t punk rock! Well, thank you Captain Obvious. Did you know the first hominin-made tools are from around 2.5 million years ago? They were rocks with one side stuck to create an edge. It took about a million years for someone to turn the rock over and hit the other side, creating a bi-facial tool. A million years. Think about that. I think you’re needed back there Captain Obvious.

[Captain Obvious walks off, dejected, to his time machine.]

But I digress. Antonio Vivaldi is probably most well-known for this work, The Four Seasons. You probably know some of these melodies without realizing it. Melodies in the first movements of “Spring” and “Winter” are some of those classical melodies that are known in popular culture for some reason or another, kind of like Beethoven’s Ode to Joy or Grieg’s In the Hall of the Mountain King. You know it without knowing you know it. How’s that for mind bending?

Anyways, I highlight The Four Seasons because it’s the time of year where you can get weather that feels like all four seasons. Last week I went out wearing my winter coat. Today I went for a bike ride wearing shorts. The weather is unpredictable. So Vivaldi gives us a feeling for all four seasons. From the uplifting spirit of “Spring” to the melancholy of “Winter”, this has it all. “Summer” has those relaxing moments where you’re just lounging around followed by sudden bombasts (like at the very end of the first movement), just like an arriving afternoon thunderstorm.

And that’s one of the coolest things about classical music. The dynamics. It can get so soft and calm you have to turn the speakers way up to hear it, and a split second later it can be so overwhelmingly loud, that you rush back to those same speakers to turn it down. It’s dynamic element, those sudden bombasts of noise and furor are just like punk music. Just listen to Night on Bald Mountain (also known as the best part of Fantasia) or anything by Wagner (Kill the Wabbit anyone?) for proof. Captain Obvious might have missed that. But Captain Subtle Observation sure caught it.