The Many Kinds of Winter

Winter in New YorkCredit:

Winter in New York

Winter – Spring – Summer – Fall: It’s not only Vivaldi who has his four seasons; other composers took up the idea. In Argentina, we find Astor Piazzolla applying the idea to Buenos Aires in a set of tangos. Collectively called the Cuatro Estaciones Porteñas, these four compositions, originally written separately between 1965 and 1970, are often performed together as a suite. The word ‘porteñas’ refers to people born in Buenos Aires, hence the English title of The Four Seasons of Buenos Aires.

The winter tango starts at 19:48
(Astor Piazzolla y su Quinteto)

There’s no Vivaldi quoted in Piazzolla’s work, but in the late 1990s, a new arrangement of the bandoneón ensemble pieces were made by Russian composer Leonid Desyatnikov. Following Vivaldi’s model of the works as violin concerts, Desyatnikov arranged the work for violin solo and string orchestra and inserted bits of Vivaldi into Piazzolla. If you’re expected pure Piazzolla, it can be quite a surprise when a bit of the 17th century creeps in!

Piazzolla: Las 4 Estaciones Portenas (The 4 Seasons of Buenos Aires) II. Verano Porteno (Summer) (arr. L. Desyatnikov for violin and strings)
If you’re familiar with the Vivaldi original, you’ll hear a bit of Vivaldi creep in, such as

Piazzolla 01:29 = Vivaldi I: Allegro non molto 01:00 (the cold wind of winter)

Piazzola 06:30 = Vivaldi II. Largo (opening)

Summer in Buenos AiresCredit:

Summer in Buenos Aires

Vivaldi: The 4 Seasons: Violin Concerto in F Minor, Op. 8, No. 4, RV 297, “L’inverno” (Winter): I. Allegro non molto
II. Largo (Lara St. John, – violin; Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra of Venezuela; Eduado Marturet, cond.)
Now, you will have noted that in Desyatnikov’s version, Piazzolla’s Winter quotes Vivaldi’s Summer. That would be, of course, because of the inversion of the seasons between the northern and southern hemispheres.

Other composers took up the idea of The Seasons and here are a sample of other winter sounds.

Tchaikovsky: Les Saisons, Op. 37b: XII. December: Christmas
Glazunov: The Seasons: IV. Winter: Ice (Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra, Ondrej Lenard, – Cond.)
Cage: The Seasons: Winter. (Margaret Tan, piano)
And Haydn wrote an oratorio on the topic, opening his Winter section with an instrumental piece on the thick fog of the season.

Haydn: Die Jahreszeiten, Hob, XXI:3: Der Winter: Introduction: Die Einleitung schildert die dicken Nebel (Orchestre des Champs-Elysées, Herreweghe)
Such different views of winter covers the whole world: the cold winter of the northern hemisphere and the hot winter of the southern hemisphere. Today, it’s 1C (33F) in New York and 27C (81F) in Buenos Aires. Brrr and mmmmm all at once around the world!

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