Saturday, May 21, 2016

Saturday Music spot: a Vivaldi Concerto arranged by Bach

To be clear, this magnificent piece was actually written by Vivaldi for four violins, and in that form was one of the many pieces of Vivaldi's music popularised by the late Yehudi Menuhin after, like almost everything Vivaldi wrote, it had been long forgotten.

JS Bach transcribed Vivaldi's music for four harpsichords instead of four violins, and that is this version.

It is unbelievable, but true, that the musical world somehow largely managed to forget about both Bach and Vivaldi for one and two centuries respectively. Bach was then "rediscovered" and popularised by Mendelsohn and Vivaldi, almost within living memory, by Menuhin. In my youth I remember reading a letter in The Times by a professor of music about the fact that his generation of music students were told that they would probably never hear a piece by Vivaldi performed, but they ought to study him because he was important to the development of other composers (like, I presume, Bach). He added that he remembered this with wry amusement every time yet another recording of "The Four Seasons" came out.

So that's four great musicians to remember when you hear this piece!

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