Although many regard Antonio Vivaldi's cycle of violin concertos The Four Seasons as an "old chestnut," modern awareness of this set of four concertos only goes back to the 1920s when Gian Francesco Malipiero republished them for the first time since the original 1728 print. Popularized by American violinist Louis Kaufman in the 1940s, they are now among the most popular of all Baroque instrumental pieces. Violinists such as Kennedy, Anne-Sophie Mutter, and Janine Jansen have used recordings of the work to help launch their careers. Some may wonder, "what new can possibly done with the venerable old Four Seasons?" The Akademie fur Alte Musik Berlin has devised a new wrinkle through a striking new video made of a performance in Italy where they staged the Four Seasons with the help of choreographer Juan Kruz Diaz de Garaio Esnaola.
This performance was presented at a festival in the fall of 2009 and shown on television in Europe. A DVD of the performance is already available overseas, which, like the CD, also includes a similar staging of Jean-Féry Rebel's Les Elemens. No doubt the tiny stature and iron clad concentration of solo violinist Midori Seiler makes the involuntary acrobatics she "performs" in this video possible. Some American viewers might chortle "Oh, that's so European," but Vivaldi himself always intended the Four Seasons to be representative of something. He appended four descriptive sonnets to the printed score -- the only poetry that we know from Vivaldi's own hand -- to provide a clue to both his artistic and musical intentions. The Harmonia Mundi disc of Akademie fur Alte Musik Berlin's Four Seasons, combined with the Rebel, has made it's bow in the US in March 2010. No word yet if Harmonia is planning a release of this extraordinary video recording as well. Akademie fur Alte Musik Berlin plan to repeat the performance in Versailles in June.