On the Eleventh Day of Christmas

I don’t think could ever tire of hearing Vivaldi’s popular work ‘The Four Seasons’ written about 1718 – 1720, but if I did, I could listen instead to Max Richter’s re-imagining of the work. Richter took parts of Vivaldi’s original and recomposed the piece with the same format: four violin concertos, each with three movements. Here’s the first movement from Winter, appropriate for those of us in the northern hemisphere. I enjoy the uneven pulse which gives a surprising new energy to the piece.

If like me, this makes you want to go back and listen to the original, here’s one of the many exciting performances I have watched recently on You Tube. This is London Musical Arts Ensemble with Vivaldi’s Winter (all three movements) recorded in 2013, at the Church of St Martin in the Fields, London.

Tomorrow will be the last in my ‘Twelve days of Christmas’ mini series! If you have enjoyed any of my posts please share using the social media buttons. You can also subscribe to my blog by scrolling down and adding your email address. Thank you.

On the Tenth Day of Christmas

I have just a few more musical gifts to share with you before twelfth night! If you’ve not heard this before, I hope you enjoy the surprise. Bulgarian polyphonic singing has a distinctive sound, coming from a vocal technique that creates a strident tone and harmonies that are full of exciting dissonances. Perunika Trio is a London-based group who specialise in this style of singing. I especially love the whoops and shrieks in this track. Oops, did I just give away the surprise?

On the Ninth Day of Christmas

One of my favourite pieces to play with a small ensemble is Arcangelo Corelli’s Christmas Concerto (Op. 6 no. 8). Composed around 1690, for performance on Christmas Eve, it’s a concerto grosso, a form in which a group of soloists known as the ‘concertino’ play in contrast with the full ensemble, the ‘ripieno’, in alternating sections. The last movement is a ‘pastorale’, a lilting melody with a simple bass line, which was composed as a sort of musical Nativity scene with shepherds. It references a Christmas tradition of the time, in Italy, where shepherds came into towns playing their various pipes (piffero and zambogna), instruments with drones. For me, this final movement exudes a peaceful calm and the fast movements seem full of joyous optimism. I am happy to listen to this at any time of year, not just at Christmas.