Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Songs I Never Get Tired Of #15

Concerto for sopranino recorder in C Major, RV 443 (Largo)
By Antonio Vivaldi

This post is also a test to see if my blogger imports to my website properly. It's over here if you want to check it out...still under construction, obviously. Pay no mind to the shifty eyes at the top of the page, they're a placeholder until I decide what to put there.

Ok! On to the song. This one is a rather long story, but I'd like to open by saying that Vivaldi is one of my favourite classical composers. How did he become so? Well, it all started with a children's music series called 'Classical Kids'. Each album would feature a classical composer - there was 'Bach Comes to Call', 'Beethoven Lives Upstairs', 'Mozart's Magic Fantasy' and of course...

There's fire in his music, too
I've always appreciated my mother for instilling in me a love of classical music, and I'm fairly certain that Vivaldi's Ring of Mystery found its way into our CD music collection because of her, along with Rachmaninoff, Grieg, etc. I must have listened to this CD dozens of times, just like my old Treasure Island cassette tape/graphic novel combo.

Sadly, my version was not read by Alfred Molina.
The CD itself, like all of the titles in the Classical Kids series, was an ingenious melding of narration and music. Vivaldi's Ring of Mystery managed to interweave beautiful baroque music with a compelling, touching story. At the same time, the tale teaches the listener a great deal about Vivaldi, his work, and Venice during the renaissance. Is it strange that a young boy fantasized about being a member of the Pieta? Yes, I know the school was for orphaned girls, but dammit, I wanted to play a Stradivarius!

Vivaldi used to boast that he could compose a complete concerto in less time than it took to copy out the parts. If this particular sopranino recorder concerto (replaced by the piccolo in a modern orchestra) was written that quickly, then I imagine that Vivaldi's vanity was well-earned. The largo movement is haunting and compelling, and in the Ring of Mystery it's combined quite well with the story to create a sense of chilling urgency.

Most are familiar with Vivaldi through his most famous work, The Four Seasons, which is well-represented in Vivaldi's Ring of Mystery. However, to this day that recorder concerto has stuck with me. Give it a listen, or do yourself a favour and check out the Ring of Mystery. It's a great introduction to the importance of classical music.

Better yet, get your kids to listen to it.

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